Dan Smith Wsop Large

Dan Smith

In an age when the talents required to succeed as a poker player are often dismissed by elected officials as simple good fortune, there was nothing but reassuring news from Prague this week for the poker advocates, where the PokerStars European Poker Tour played out its last event of 2012.

The bigger events were dominated by players whose talents and natural skill could only be doubted by only the most ignorant of poker’s opponents.

Uppermost was the performance by Ramzi Jelassi, the 26-year-old Swede, who overcame a field of 836 to win the main event. Not unlike Ludovic Lacay, who won EPT Sanremo, Jelassi is among those EPT regulars who are overdue a big result after years of performing at the top of the game.

For Jelassi the relief was obvious. “Finally,” he said, as the trophy was presented to him. Only those on the game’s front lines know how difficult it is to succeed at the top of the game.

That said they often make it look so easy. Take Dan Smith and Marvin Rettenmaier for example. Both won side events in Prague; Rettenmaier in the €10,000 buy-in High Roller and Smith in the €5,000 Turbo. Each was merely adding to their 2012 records which sparkle with high stakes success.

What makes players like Jelassi, Smith and Rettenmaier the top quality players that they are? It would be great to know. But it is not luck, chance or being in the right place at the right time. Their talents should be celebrated, regardless of the ambivalence of those whose job it is to know.