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Eastern Poker Tour Raises Pub Poker Standard

Local Bar League Provides Substantial Prizes and Daily Events


EPT Winner is a happy manJust about every day of the week in towns dotting Massachusetts and Rhode Island, poker players find their way to local bars to play for money, pride, and a chance at a seat in the World Series of Poker main event.

The four-year-old Eastern Poker Tour (EPT) is elevating the concept of free pub poker to a new level, complete with a stunning online site, real nightly prizes, a points system, and an actual TV tourney event that’s broadcast locally.

Glenn McCrory, co-founder, owner, and president of the EPT, says his company is determined to give both the players and the bars that host the events a league that keeps the regulars coming back by offering substantial prizes and a chance to play for millions in the WSOP.

“We treat this tour like a legitimate mainstream tournament,” McCrory said. “Just because players aren’t paying someone to play, that doesn’t mean we can’t make it work. It’s way above and beyond any bar league in the country.”

Tournaments are scheduled for just about every night of the week in the following areas: Rhode Island, Southern and Central Massachusetts, Worchester Massachusetts, and Greater Lowell Massachusetts.

Players who win any event at any of the locations qualify for the EPT Tournament of Champions, which is filmed and broadcast on Comcast Sports New England. Bernard Lee is a commentator, and the second hour-and-a-half show is due to air sometime in March.

The first tournament that was filmed was broadcast in June and earned a Nielsen rating of 1.2 to 1.5, which is exceptionally high for local television.EPT makes people concentrate
“We really went through the roof in ratings,” McCrory said.

Speaking of numbers, he said that the EPT website, which tracks players’ wins, ranks them, shows who has qualified for the monthly events, and provides a centralized poker community to the players who frequent EPT events, gets a little more than 1 million hits a month.

“Even at this level, people are proud of their results,” McCrory said, citing the reason they have so many visitors.

And nightly, the Rhode Island bars average 60-80 entrants; Southern Massachusetts, 40-60; Central Massachusetts, 30-50; and Worchester Massachusetts, 20-40.

The EPT pays out at each event by a sliding scale. For example, if 20 players show up at a location, the tournament has a $115 prize pool, with $75 going to the winner. If 60 people show up, there’s a prize pool of $650, with $250 going to the winner. If 100 people show up, there’s an $850 prize pool, with $400 going to the winner, and so on.

The EPT also keeps track of all its players’ stats and holds freerolls for those players who manage to stay at the top of the leader boards in their area. Every season of the EPT last six months, and the top 15 percent of players get to play in a freeroll for $5,000. Each month, the top players in each region play in a 50-entrant freeroll with a $1,200 prize pool.

It’s every six months that the EPT holds its WSOP qualifier, where a prize worth $13,000 is awarded. The next event is coming up Jan. 24. About 250 entrants -- all of the winners of the season’s events -- will get together and find out who’s going to the WSOP on EPT’s dime.

The EPT also holds charity poker tournaments weekly throughout Rhode Island and Massachusetts.

The EPT would like to bring its style of tour to markets outside of the area and are looking into ways of franchising their system. But that’s a little more down the road for the 4-year-old series.

“We’d like to have our tournament times a thousand. If we could get everyone else to be in the same page as us, wanting to give our players more, pub poker could become something substantial,” McCrory said.

To find out more about the EPT, click here.