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Up-and-Comers of the European Poker Tour

by Julio Rodriguez |  Published: May 21, 2008

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Other poker tours and TV shows have done their part to create household names domestically, but a new breed of poker superstar is sprouting up abroad. And, thanks to the European Poker Tour, which allows players who are at least 18 and up to play, they're getting younger and younger.

The new poker celebrity is a world traveler. In tournament after tournament, he makes his mark, in Dortmund, San Remo, Monte Carlo, London, Copenhagen, Barcelona, and Dublin. The best across the pond aren't afraid to go and get it. They are young guns with deep pockets, banking on keeping those pockets filled as long as there's another stop on the tour.

Turning 21 is like hitting it big at the slots. As the stars of the EPT get older, they set their sights on the big stops in Atlantic City and Las Vegas, eager to show off their skills in yet another locale.

Players like Thierry Van Den Berg, Florian Langmann, Dag Martin Mikkelson, and William Thorsson already have made an impression in the States, while continuing to impress back home. Norwegian Mikkelson has made scores in Las Vegas, Dublin, Barcelona, and Melbourne. Langmann is a regular player at Bellagio, and he finished second in the EPT London event for more than $600,000.

Van Den Berg not only has two EPT main-event final tables under his belt, but a World Series of Poker final table, as well. Thorsson continues to prove why he is one of the best up-and-comers in the game, having three EPT final tables on his resume, as well as a 13th-place finish in the 2006 WSOP main event.

The new poker celebrity plays on the Internet. Sure, you may be in one of the most exotic places in the world, but who wants to go scuba diving when the Sunday Million starts in just half an hour! The stakes are higher, the peer recognition is instantaneous, and you can have it all with just a few clicks of the mouse.

Dario Minieri, having just turned 21, might be in the middle of a transition to live play, but he picked up the game online. Minieri played so hard for so long that he was able to earn a Porsche with his frequent-player points, despite not even having a license to drive at the time. Add to that the fact that he has earned more than $700,000 in the live arena, and you have the makings of a well-rounded poker wunderkind.

Another online genius, Soren Kongsgaard, started his ascent up the professional ladder when he won the Sunday Million on PokerStars, and then finished second in one of the largest Full Tilt Online Poker Series events. Kongsgaard also has a live score of just under $900,000 to his credit for last year's third-place finish in Monte Carlo.

The new poker celebrity is consistent. It's not all about one huge score and a flash-in-the-pan success story. Some of the best players on the EPT have proven themselves over time. Anything can happen in one tournament, but the real winners are those who continue to show why they belong without bleeding away buy-in after buy-in.

An exampe is Julian Thew. Thew is the definition of consistency, having made more than $1.1 million in his career. He has six final tables to brag about, the most successful of which was a 2007 win in the EPT Baden event.

And there's Andreas Krause. This German player has made five final tables in his short career and seems to love the States, having cashed an amazing 11 times at the WSOP. Winners like Trond Erik Eidsvig has made three EPT final tables and amassed more than $1.5 million in winnings since June 2007.

They're winners … OK, second-place finishers, too, like Denes Kalo. Kalo has made almost the most of his two EPT main-event final tables, having finished runner-up in both the 2007 Baden main event and this year's Grand Finale in Monte Carlo. Both of these scores alone put him at nearly $2.4 million in lifetime tournament earnings.

The new poker celebrity captures the people. Poker players are rock stars, they are charismatic, and they not only create an audience, they keep it.

Nobody is more of a rock star right now on the EPT than Johnny Lodden. Lodden is fresh off a 17th-place finish in Monte Carlo, where he captivated the rail for three days before finally falling back to earth. Despite the disappointing finish, Lodden still gives the people what they want with his own website, which includes a blog and professional photos of himself for all of his fans.

Always dressed fashionably and looking sharp is Peter Jepsen. Jepsen won the EPT Warsaw main event in 2007 and hasn't looked back, having played all over Europe for the past year. Jepsen, a hybrid look-alike of Gus Hansen and Patrik Antonius, is the consummate professional at the table, always acting courteously toward his opponents and handling his beats with class.

While this recipe for success has never quite been a constant in the world of big buy-in tournament poker, players such as these have proven time and time again why they are the true, new up-and-comers of the EPT.