The 5 poker moments that shaped 2012: Epic Fail

Posted by Steve Ruddock on Dec 30, 2012 Posted in Poker News | No Comments »

epic poker leagueThere were a number of highlights (as well as a few lowlights) in the poker world this past year, but let’s face it, events like Greg Merson’s WSOP win, the emergence of poker in Asia, the hacking and subsequent lengthy hiatus for the 2+2 poker forum, or Greg Raymer’s four HPT titles aren’t going down in the poker history books. That being said, there were a handful of occurrences in 2012 that may find themselves written into the next history of the game, and in this series I’ll detail each of the poker moments that shaped poker in 2012.

Here is a look at the five stories that shaped poker during 2012, and will have some type of lasting effect on poker:

* Story #1: The Epic Poker League

* Story #2: The Relaunch of Full Tilt Poker

* Story #3: Phil Hellmuth’s 2013 tournament successes

* Story #4: PokerStars settles with the DOJ and purchases Full Tilt Poker

* Story #5: The Big One for One Drop

I have listed the events by how many lines I would give them if I were writing a comprehensive history of the game, and first up on the list will be the footnote that is the Epic Poker League.

Epic Poker League goes busto

The short-lived Epic Poker League can provide a very valuable lesson to all aspiring poker players, proper bankroll management is extremely important. From the outset the Epic Poker league was spending money on players as if they were enticing the biggest whales in the world to come visit their casino, and it didn’t take very long for their free-spending ways to catch-up with them (less than a year and just three tournaments in fact) as the company filed for bankruptcy in early 2012 and was liquidated later in the year.

The failure of the Epic Poker League came at perhaps the worst possible time for poker players who were firmly caught-up in the Full Tilt Poker/Black Friday fiasco when the EPL came on the scene, and just as quickly found itself on the scrap-heap with the Professional Poker Tour and the Super Bowl of Poker.

Considering the level of the competition at EPL events the tour had to entice players with some type of golden carrot, and the way the EPL decided to make star-studded fields +EV was to offer added prize-money to each tournament, as well as a season-ending $1,000,000 freeroll to the top performers over the first season (all of four tournaments).The failure of the EPL to run their promised $1 million freeroll was simply a kick in the gut for poker players who had already been knocked out by the sucker-punch of Full Tilt Poker.

Even though poker players were unsurprised by the bankruptcy filings of the Epic Poker league, the details that emerged from the court filings were absolutely jaw-dropping, as we discovered that the EPL was spending money like a Karl Rove led Super-PAC, and paying their executives handsome salaries in the process. All of this was going on despite the company posting huge losses in their first year of operation; reports had Jeffrey Pollack and Annie Duke (the faces of the league) cashing six-figure checks while the EPL owed millions of dollars to countless creditors.

The EPL also managed to deal out some collateral damage during its brief stint in the poker world. Somehow the EPL (through their parent company Federated Sports + Gaming) convinced the owners of the Heartland Poker Tour to sell their product to FS+G, with promises of future payments. When FS+G was unable to meet its obligations it tried to sell the tour and all of its assets to Pinnacle Entertainment, but that deal fell through (despite massive loans given to the EPL by Pinnacle) and the company eventually filed for Chapter 11 and was auctioned off to the highest bidder — Pinnacle Entertainment eventually became the purchaser of the EPL and all of its assets at auction, getting a sweetheart deal that included having their previous loans knocked off the final sale price.

In addition to nearly bankrupting a profitable poker tour in the HPT, the Epic Poker League also failed to pay many of its employees (the executives got their money of course) including countless writers in the poker industry. All the while, high-level EPL employees were touting their “long-term” business plan (claiming they had three years of operating costs at their fingertips), and blowing smoke up the asses of poker players with announcements that the date of the final leg of Season 1 had been moved in order to “accommodate the players.”

Fortunately, the assets were auctioned off, and the Heartland Poker Tour (the only asset that turned a profit) is alive and well, and another EPL creation, the Global Poker Index, seems to have become a viable tournament ranking formula and is now one of the “Big Three” when it comes to Player of the Year rankings and awards.

Honestly, it almost seems as if the Epic Poker League singular intention was to kick the poker world while it was down. The idea was not a bad one per se, but the execution of the league was akin to a poker player moving all-in every hand and only stopping if they win 10 hands in a row. Instead of building slowly, and using the millions they paid in added prize-money and perks, the EPL wanted it all, and wanted it RIGHT NOW.

If you want more specifics on precisely what occurred with the Epic Poker League you will find numerous links to articles on the failed tour here:


#1 – Epic Fail

#2 — FTP Relaunch

#3 — Hellmuth

#4 — Stars vs DOJ

#5 – One Drop



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