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State of the Felt -- Thomas Kremser

The EPT Tournament Director Talks About Running Major Events in Multiple Countries


In State of the Felt, Card Player will periodically bring you insights and opinions from some of the most influential players, tournament and poker organization directors, and other people who influence the poker industry. This is a place where the broad trends and forces that continue to shape the game will have space to live and breathe in open discussion.

This week, European Poker Tour Tournament Director Thomas Kremser talks about the challenges of running the EPT in different countries and the level of service he wants to deliver to players in European events.

Ryan Lucchesi: Tell me about the new structure that you employed here in Monte Carlo for the season five EPT Grand Final. What led you to include triple starting stacks and longer levels?

Thomas Kremser: The structure that we are playing in Monte Carlo is the new structure for EPT season six. This is the structure from now on for all EPT events. Before we had a different structure for the final, but this year we decided to introduce the new structure for season six with the Monte Carlo Grand Final.

RL: What input from players did you receive regarding the tournament structure? Is this new structure another way to influence more U.S. players to travel to these European events?

TK: The structure we used for the last five years at the beginning of the EPT was a good structure five years ago, but these days it is not up to date. Of course, we got complaints from players because the EPT is running the biggest tournaments. We knew we had to adjust, so the only thing we had to decide is if we should make a slight adjustment, or if we should make a really big adjustment so we don’t have to readjust in the next year or two. So, we decided to give them three times the amount of chips, we gave them more time from day 2, and the blind levels are more or less the same, just level one is missing. We used the input from the players. As I could see here, according to the remaining players statistics, I saw that the players always had [an average of] around 40 big blinds throughout the whole tournament.

RL: What extra challenges do you see as a tournament director working in a different country for each event you host during the course of an EPT season?

TK: The challenge, first of all, is the language, of course. My personal challenge sometimes is the crew I’m working with. Here in Monte Carlo or Prague, I can bring my own crew, so I feel comfortable because everyone knows what they’re doing. They’re used to running these types of tournaments. Once I go to other countries, I have to work with local staff, and this creates some challenges for me besides the language. English is quite common, so I can get along with English, and when it comes to poker languages, I’m quite good now.

RL: The EPT is now the marquee tour of the year outside of the summer months. What kind of precedent do you want to set with the way tournaments are run on this tour for all of the people coming in to play them from countries all over the world?

TK: From the beginning of the EPT, especially with regards to rules, tournament procedures, structure, dealers, this is my perspective: we want to achieve the top level. I really want to give the tournament players the best experience they can have. I understand how important it is to have a good staff to run a tournament. I’m trying to set a high standard. This was my goal from the beginning, and I never stop doing this. The poker world is changing, rules are changing, procedures are changing, and I’m changing because I’m on top of it and people listen to my suggestions. Anything that makes running a tournament smoother, better, and more secure, I try to give my input. If I hear someone else, I take it into consideration and use it. I think poker should be seen as a sport, and the highest level of integrity and security are important. This is my goal in the poker world.