It’s funny how “bold predictions” usually work.  You see sports analysts picking Super Bowl champions before the first week of games, and they’re usually wrong.  You see the weatherman guaranteeing rainfall or blue skies on a certain day, and he’s usually wrong.  In my case, I boldly predicted that Black Friday would take enough liquid assets out of the poker economy to dry up the live tournament scene rather quickly.  And so far, I’m DELIGHTED to say, I’ve been wrong!  In this case, however, I couldn’t be happier as it means that poker is still doing quite well when it comes to live tournament numbers.

EPT Barcelona, whose Main Event is running this week, has done so well in fact that the tournament staff can now boast that this year’s event is the largest field ever to be hosted in Spain.  In all, 811 runners have posted their buy-in (5,300 Euro) to take a shot at this title, and it looks to be a resounding success for the players and for EPT event organizers.

As for the Tournament itself, several players who have made names for themselves at the WSOP are running well in Barcelona, including Guillaume Darcourt, Eugene Katchalov, Victor Ramdin, and Vanessa Selbst.  Darcourt has the most recent success of that group, finishing 35th in this summer’s WSOP Main Event. However, every one of those players has a ton of live tournament success and experience, so don’t be surprised to see their names near the top of the leaderboard the rest of the way.

Now for the biggest question of all: ‘What does a big EPT field say about the future of Tournament Poker?’  Well, just like you can’t always judge a player on one result, you can’t judge an industry on one event, so it would be foolish to suggest that this somehow ‘proves’ the imminent health and stability of the poker world.  Some skeptics have even suggested that any large tournament field from now until next year’s WSOP will still be an aberration over the long-term, because those large tourneys could be the simple result of former online players finding a way to get the last of their funds into circulation/action.  That was the argument made by nay-sayers for the huge turnouts at the 2011 WSOP Events, for example.  But I would suggest to them or anyone that if you look at the player lists for these big events, one thing you see a TON of names from countries besides the United States!  You see names showing up from markets where online poker is still played and still thriving, and the reality of it is that unless and until the online game dries out in those parts of the world, there is no reason for tournament numbers to go down.

Our hats are off to the players, organizers, and local staff for the EPT Barcelona; its been a great tournament thus far, with a great finish sure to follow.  Stay tuned to as we bring you the results from Spain and around the world – – Good Luck at the Tables!!