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Europe Versus the U.S. - the Ongoing Battle

by Rolf Slotboom |  Published: Jun 01, 2007

The third season of the European Poker Tour has concluded in an absolutely spectacular manner - and with Gavin Griffin, we have yet another American winner of the Grand Final. Europe seems to be a happy hunting ground for the Americans, and the fact is that some of them also play very well. For instance, I have seen Chad Brown in action both at this EPT Grand Final and later at the Irish Open, and I know very few players who are as good as he is at accumulating chips. At the Grand Final, he had been the clear chip leader for most of day two and three, but in the end was unfortunate to bust out on the bubble. But by that time, fellow Americans Josh Prager and Gavin Griffin had already taken over, the latter eventually taking home the title. It appeared to me that the Americans knew better how to cope with the 90-minute levels and the deep money than most of the Europeans, who sometimes seemed to play a bit too aggressively considering the slow structure. In the final heads-up battle, when the blinds were still very low, both Griffin and runner-up Marc Karam from Canada showed some excellent small-pot poker, and during the first 90 minutes of heads-up play, we didn't have a single all-in bet or raise. It was enjoyable to watch both of these players play some strong, subtle, and deceptive poker. Congratulations to Gavin Griffin, a sympathetic young man who already has a World Series of Poker bracelet in pot-limit hold'em, does a lot for charity, and is now our reigning European champion.

Of course, with the World Series of Poker in Vegas ahead of us, it is up to us Europeans to show that the Americans are not the only ones who are capable of winning overseas. It is my firm belief that the level of tournament play in Europe has risen tremendously in the past 24 months or so, and especially when the structures are not too slow. I think we have lots of potential bracelet winners. I expect that at this year's WSOP, some of the absolute top players in Europe, like Roland De Wolfe (winner of both EPT and World Poker Tour events, and runner-up at the recent Irish Open), Patrik Antonius, and William Thorson, will make some excellent showings. While in last year's Series the Europeans performed quite well, albeit not in the truly large events, this time there will probably be even more Europeans than last year, simply because of the recent poker boom in countries like Germany, France, Spain, and Italy. So, sheer numbers dictate that as a result, Europe should be able to top last year's results. Also, my home country, the Netherlands, will bring a large contingent of top players. While most of them will go simply because the WSOP is the largest possible stage, there is one extra incentive: Despite having so many top tournament players, Holland has yet to win its first bracelet. Players like Steve Wong, Lex Veldhuis, Peter Dalhuijsen, Jorryt van Hoof, Noah Boeken, Marcel Lüske, Rob Hollink, and also yours truly will give our all to bring home to Europe that one little piece of jewelry, plus the honor that goes with it. It is my firm belief that these Dutchmen, and others like Abel Meijberg and Marc Naalden, who are not yet 100 percent confirmed to go, have all the required abilities to capture a bracelet. Now, let's just hope that they will catch enough lucky breaks so that indeed this will happen.