Back in 2004, the European Poker Tour (EPT) was still just a good idea that may or may not succeed. We’d been to Barcelona, where Alexander Stevic won €80,000 in the first ever event, and then we headed to London in October, for the beginning of a residency at the Grosvenor Victoria Casino.
This one cost £3,000 to play and the numbers were still very good. There were 175 entries, a prize pool of more than half a million pounds, and a popular winner in John Shipley, who had recently crashed and burned on the final table of the WSOP Main Event.
Most likely, not many people in Barcelona this week, 18 years later, remember all that much about that tournament. But a man named Baard Dahl does. The reason is simple: he came fourth in that very event, picking up £33,600, the biggest result of his career at that stage.
Dahl continued to play but moved more into the business side of the poker industry after that, including as an employee of PokerStars over the past 12 years. But he left the company two weeks ago, and that freed him up to play some live poker once more, and Dahl quickly hopped on a plane to Barcelona and a return to the table of the EPT.
That’s been a very rewarding journey so far. Dahl is currently sitting pretty with about 1.5 million chips, comfortably in the top half of the 50 players left.
Dahl has already set a new mark for time between first EPT Main Event cash and second. And if he makes the final table here, he will set another amazing record. The final table will be reached on Saturday, 17 years, 10 months and 11 days since he was first at an EPT final table.
To put it another way, that’s 6,524 days.
But do you want to hear another amazing coincidence? Of course you do.
Dahl is not the only player from that EPT Season 1 London final table still alive in the EPT Barcelona 2022 Main Event. Noah Boeken is too. Boeken — another of poker’s earliest enfant terribles — finished sixth in the tournament in London, banking £16,800.
Boeken has subsequently been to another EPT final table, in Copenhagen in 2005, where he won the tournament. He spent some time on Team PokerStars Pro and made numerous deep runs. But it’s just an incredible coincidence that he too is in with a shout of reuniting with Dahl on a final table, so many years later.
Should neither Dahl nor Boeken make the final table here, there’s one more chance for a blast-from-the-past presence in the deepest stages of EPT Barcelona.
Denmark’s Christian Grundtvig was another regular presence in the earliest days of the European Poker Tour. He used to qualify on PokerStars and then regularly tear through the major tournament fields, including in Baden in Season 2.
Back then, as a handsome young Finn named Patrik Antonius won his first major title, Grundtvig was at the final table, finishing fourth for €47,880. That remains Grundtvig’s only EPT final table appearance, but he is still alive here in Barcelona.
If Grundtvig made the final, it would be 6,165 days since his last, which came on October 4, 2005. It would obviously set a new record for time between final tables too.
By the way, the current holder of this slightly unusual record is that man Antonius. He made his first EPT final in Barcelona in September 2005, during the second season of the tour. He finished third. Flash forward 13 years and he was back at an EPT final Monte Carlo in April 2018, finishing sixth in the Main Event.
There was an interval of 4,612 days between his first and most recent appearance. It’s that record in Dahl, Boeken and Grundtvig’s sights today.