The Kids Are Alright, Aren’t They? No Junior Event at EPT Barcelona

IMG_2093Whilst looking through the WSOP schedule, I found myself wondering “Hmm…that’s peculiar, the WSOP doesn’t have a Junior Event.” After I realised my error (woops!), I checked out the EPT 12 Barcelona schedule which was released during the WSOP. To my surprise/dismay, I found that there was no Junior Event scheduled.

After the first Junior Event took place in Prague last season, there have been others that have taken place in both Malta and Monte Carlo. I actually played in the one during EPT Malta and I have to say it was one of the most fun tournaments I’ve ever played in.

There are three main reasons why I think that Junior Events are an important part of the EPT, and why they should be included as part of the schedule.

  1. They are fun to play
Thanh Nguyen, winner of the first ever EPT Junior Event in Prague last season
Thanh Nguyen, winner of the first ever EPT Junior Event in Prague last season

This I can say without a doubt. While I was in Malta I went from playing Day 1b of the Malta Cup one evening, to playing the Junior Event the next. The difference between the two was stark. In the Malta Cup, the field was a lot softer than I expected. There were multi-way limped pots, which were then checked down. There were all manner of weak player. Put simply, players weren’t bringing their A game to this side event.

By contrast, the Junior Event was a lot more intense and therefore appealing to me as a player. It was a big deal to these younger players to win the Junior Event. These were players who had been brought up on the aggressive style of poker which has been the norm for the past 5-10 years. These were the online players whose first instinct was to towards the raise button instead of the call one. There wasn’t a pot that wasn’t opened with a raise (just how players are taught these days), and 3-bets were increasingly common. I doubt I saw a single one during the Malta Cup.

Players took each pot seriously, each hoping to be crowned the latest EPT Junior Event champion. For young poker players, perhaps those who have only begun to play on that stage, having the chance to win a title in a smaller event means something to them.

  1. The tournaments appeal to newcomers to major tournament poker

Aggression aside, it is a tournament that appeals to newcomers. These newcomers, like I said, are used to this aggressive style and therefore have no problem playing right back at it. True you will get young players who are absolute beginners, new to the game and perhaps a little unprepared, but there are players like that in every tournament.

Junior Event entrants
Are decreasing field sizes to blame?

The field in these sorts of tournaments are a lot smaller. The one at EPT Malta consisted of 27 players. I’m assuming that this is one of the reasons as to the demise of the Junior Event in future EPT schedules, but I’m sure the Senior Event and Ladies Event posts similar numbers. A consequence of smaller field sizes is, like I said, that these tournaments necome more appealing to new players. You get to play on the tables, at the festivals, with the chips, and the cards…It’s all about the experience, and you get that from this slightly smaller more approachable tournament.

  1. Poker is getting younger and younger

Adrian Mateos Diaz, Charlie Carrel, and Dzmitry Urbanovich. No, not just a list of some of poker’s upcoming stars, but a list of potential entrants to an EPT Junior Event. They wouldn’t, of course, probably too busy off winning Main Events, High Rollers, and any other event the EPT offers.

There’s no denying that the faces of poker are getting younger and younger. The role of an EPT Junior Event should be, perhaps, to showcase these young faces and to give them a platform to go on to bigger and better things. What I hope is that eventually, a few years in the future, the main news in the poker world will be the first ever winner of both and EPT Junior Event and Main Event. Wouldn’t that be something? Wouldn’t that be a great story for poker, that this young-gun progressed through the ranks to take down an EPT Main Event?