Players are already participating in online poker qualifiers for the 2012 WSOP at Bovada, but the best place to play the game continues to deliver the regular tournament action they want, with big guarantees and buy-ins that let every player participate! Bovada's weekly $100,000 guaranteed poker tournament went down this past Sunday and Imari L claimed the top spot, earning $20,500 for their play.
The one thing poker players like doing more than anything else is playing poker. The second thing they like doing is heading to a swanky cafe/restaurant overlooking Monte Carlo bay, drinking champagne out of delicate glass flutes and listening to the results of the EPT8 Awards, punctuated by the comedy stylings of TV's Joe Stapleton. Who wouldn't.
It turns out that this week those poker players have been in luck. After one of the most demanding and rewarding festivals of poker the world has ever seen, tonight everyone could cut loose at Cafe Llorca, in the Grimaldi Forum, Monaco, for the latest EPT party.
But this was not just any old EPT party. It was the last one of the tournament year, where those awards would also been handed out to some of the very best players of a scintillating season.
What they've been playing for all season
Stapleton took to the stage in inimitable style: beer in one hand, five o'clock shadow on his chin and a list of gags at hand. "What do Daniel Negreanu and an emergency room have in common?" he asked. "Neither of them ever closes."
The internet's Joe Stapleton
The biggest laugh was from Negreanu himself, fresh from losing heads up in the ?25,000 High Roller event, and now finding needles stabbed into his wounds. But Negreanu seemed well equipped to cope with the disappointment, sitting in the VIP seats alongside fellow Team PokerStars Pro Liv Boeree and posing for pictures with anyone who just happened to be passing.
Daniel Negreanu poses for a photo
Stapleton pressed on, awarding the first two trophies of the night to the Welsh player Roberto Romanello. Romanello won both the EPT Achievement of the Year and the Player's Choice award, popular among commentators and peers alike.
Roberto Romanello, left, celebrates double success
From there, we celebrated the success of Melanie Weisner (Heads Up Player of the Year), Salvatore Bonavena (Mixed Game Player of the Year) and Khiem Nguyen (Omaha Player of the Year) before Pierre Neuville swaggered onto stage in a white-shirt-white-shoes-white-suit combo not seen since Thomas Wolfe stopped playing on the EPT.
"What did I win?" asked Neuville, apparently unaware that the self-styled Serial PokerStars Qualifier was now PokerStars Qualifier of the Year. Expect the embroiderers of Belgium to be rubbing their needles together with glee, and putting up prices for bespoke garment decoration.
The man from Del Monte, Pierre Neuville
Lebanon won Country of the Year, before we made it to the big one: EPT Player of the Year. That meant an appearance on stage of the EPT Director Edgar Stuchly, who told the gathering masses that Ondrej Vinklarek had beaten the likes of Romanello, Martin Finger, Steve O'Dwyer and Jonathan Duhamel to the top prize.
Vinklarek came to accept his prize, pose for the camera, and just like that we were done.
Ondrej Vinklarek collects his award from Edgar Stuchly
A full list of nominees and winners is below. Many of them were cut down from much longer lists, the full details of which will be making its way to the EPT Facebook page.
As you read this, the majority of this year's fine talents are still demonstrating their abilities at the free bar at Cafe Llorca. Soon after, they will be stumbling to their chauffeur-driven limos and yachts.
That's the end of another wonderful EPT season. Sail away.
EPT ACHIEVEMENT OF THE YEAR
(Voted for by the media)
Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier
OMAHA PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Jose "Nacho" Barbero
MIXED GAME PLAYER OF THE YEAR
HEADS UP PLAYER OF THE YEAR
ONLINE QUALIFIER OF THE YEAR
PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Spaniard Leo Margets took down the title at the EPT Grand Final Ladies event here in Monte Carlo this evening after beating Team Pokerstars Pro Victoria Coren in a heads-up which saw the chips swing backwards and forwards. The top two finishers made a deal prior to heads-up play to flatten the payouts. It all came down to the final hand where Vicky's A-9 did not improve against Leo's A-Q.
The day started with 12 players but within half an hour a final table of nine was reached after Maya Geller, Coralie Nauder and Melanie Weisner were eliminated. Play slowed down considerably as they moved closer to the money. Vanessa Selbst, who started the day as chip leader, had a string of unlucky hands before she busted out without a money finish at the hands of EPT London Ladies Champion Jan Combes.
Jan had played a strong tournament and was chip leader in the latter stages but she was sent to the rail by Leo and had to settle for fourth place. Vicky then knocked Nicole Kotrinas out in third after her A-Q held up against Nicole's A-7.
Leo, 28, lives half the year in London and the rest in her native Barcelona as well as travelling the world playing poker. She started playing in 2008 but by the following year she had turned pro after finishing in the WSOP Main Event in 27th place cashing $352,832 and was also the 'last woman standing'.
Prior to discovering poker she studied in London and then worked as a Player Relations Manager and Interpreter at all the tennis Grand Slams and then went to work for sport's giant IMG.
She was thrilled to win the title today as well as the gigantic trophy and said it rounded off a great week for her as she also cashed in the main event. She is reinvesting her winnings in her bankroll in preparation for the WSOP this summer.
Final table results
Results based on two-way deal
1st: Leo Margets ?16,850
2nd: Victoria Coren (Pokerstars Team Pro) ?10,950
3rd: Jan Combes (EPT London Ladies Champion) ?6,380
4th: Nicole Kotrinos ?4,560
5th: Ingrida Klassen ?3,650
6th: Darya Hulyk ?3,200
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High Roller tournaments at major poker festivals will always attract fewer players than the main event. It's something to do with the buy in being at least twice the size (and often significantly more).
But High Rollers are also utterly compelling, a concentrated distillation of all that we love. Almost every pot means phenom-versus-phenom in a battle of wills, and when the champion is crowned you know you're either going to see an established superstar clutching the trophy, or the face of a person who has outwitted the best in the world.
Today's winner was very nearly from the former category. The Team PokerStars Pro Daniel Negreanu was heads up for the ?25,000 High Roller event at the PokerStars and Monte-Carlo® Casino EPT Grand Final. But instead take a look at the man below. That is Igor Kurganov and he is ?1,080,000 richer after showing that he too has an awful lot of game.
Igor Kurganov, champion
But don't go thinking that Kurganov is a rookie either. He is no stranger to the top competition. He has finished runner up in two ?10,000 buy in events on the European Poker Tour in the past couple of years, and this time was adamant not to be bridesmaid again. He had been a short stack four-handed, but battled back, and when they got heads up, Negreanu himself tweeted: "The kid is tough."
Igor Kurganov and Daniel Negreanu heads up for the title
They traded the chip lead back and forth in the final stages, each doubling up and then being knocked back down. Negreanu was eventually forced to settle for ?598,600 for second place, missing out on what would have been the biggest single payday in a career in which he has earned more than $15m in tournament prizes.
Daniel Negreanu deep in thought
Even to get heads up, those two had had to out-battle some mighty contenders. Justin Bonomo, who had recently won the Super High Roller event, carried a massive chip lead to the final table, but the blazing Bonomo would melt this time in fourth.
Justin Bonomo: Fell short in bid for second High Roller
That was one place before Philipp Gruissem, the man rapidly becoming Mr High Roller. Gruissem was at his fifth High Roller final table of the season, and he had already won two of them. But Gruissem would this time bust in third, with a ?366,000 payday to cushion his fall. (Plus a piece of Kurganov.)
Philipp Gruissem: Mr High Roller finishes third
All of that followed the departure of Max Lykov, Nathan Schoo, Noah Schwartz and Artem Litvinov in eighth through fifth. Each one of those is some player too, and Negreanu had to crack Lykov's kings to get rid of the obdurate Russian Team PokerStars Pro.
After that, though, the final table flew by, bringing us to that heads up.
Negreanu would have been a hugely popular champion. Kurganov too. This time is fell to the latter, but the Germans have a lock on the High Rollers this season. Negreanu will have to try again next time.
And that is all but the end of season eight on the European Poker Tour. You can take a look back on everything that happened in our enormous PokerStars Blog EPT archive. Or if it's just this week in Monaco you're after, we can do that too.
Today's High Roller witterings are available to anyone with the balls to click any of the links below.
It's EPT Awards and party time now, and we will have a full round-up from there later on tonight. That's if you can keep your eyes open long enough, of course.
High Roller final table. A thrilling business
You might already know about the PokerStars 100k Depositor Freerolls, the nice little gift PokerStars gives to its depositors in which they can play up to four $1,000 freerolls per day for 31 days. It's a sweet way to get your hands on extra cash just for making a small deposit of your own. Now, for the month of May, PokerStars is ready to offer you double the fun.
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To get the bonus codes and see the tournament schedules, visit the PokerStars 100k Depositor Freerolls information page.
Just a few days ago, PokerStars announced the schedule for this year edition of SCOOP. It'll start on May 6 and finish on May 20. In that time, there will be 40 events split in three levels of buy-in (small, medium and high) with $30 million in guaranteed prize money. That's great, no? No matter what your stake is, you'll definitely find the right event for you.
Now, I'd like to share some of my experience with you. I played quite a lot last year in SCOOP. I played somewhere around 30 events, and I'm glad that I managed a few times not only to get in the money, but actually to reach a pretty good position (the best, a 6th place for around $20k). I hope this year will be profitable too.
Let's talk a bit about the low buy-in tournaments. I played in some of them last year and I can tell you that in these kind of tournaments, due to the small buy-in and the big guaranteed prizepool, players come in thousands. For example I remember that a $16.50 NL Hold'em event I played in gathered more than 11,000 players, while a $11 NL Hold'em tourney drew more than 20,000! So, it's not an easy job. Luckily, the structure PokerStars offers in these tourneys is really good. You play pretty deep, and levels are long enough for you to have an advantage over the less-experienced players.
But don't fool yourself: these are tournaments that stretch over many hours, so it's important that you get good rest before you sitat the tables. Otherwise you won't last until the end of the marathon. Once at the table, be patient; don't put your chips in the play too soon, especially at the beginning of the game. This is the moment when you play against a lot of newbies and many are more aggressive than they should be. You may find yourself in a dangerous situation. So, don't get involved in too many pots with marginal hands, or you'll be in a pretty difficult spot. I myself prefer to play some PL Omaha cash games at the same time, so I can be sure I control the number of hands I play in the tournaments. This is a safe alternative.
Another important aspect is confidence. Be positive even when you lose a pot, a thing that's very likely to occur in a tournament with so many people. Just move on, go on playing, and don't let what happened to affect your game. Confidence is the decisive factor that allows you to grow as a player.
But if you stay alert, think about your actions before you make them, and you weigh your steps, you may find yourself going deep in the tourney. And who knows? Maybe you'll even get to the top place.
So, be prepared and don't waste your efforts. Good luck!
I adore Berlin. It has such an edge of coolness about it I was so excited to return there for the penultimate EPT of the season. Having a good friend living there also helped me to enjoy the experience much more. Before the Main Event kicked off, I went out to celebrate my German friend's birthday and get to know the Berlin way of life a little better than I had done before. It was a Sunday night and apparently the best night of the week to go out (that was a statement from a Berliner, so it's pretty concrete.) We started in a Swiss restaurant called 'Helvetia' in Kreuzberg where we ate a cheese fondue. It was insanely tasty and cheap. In fact, I wasn't really looking forward to it so much, I mean, how can a bit of bread and cheese be that great? But trust me, it was. I couldn't stop dunking my bread into the hot runny cheese sauce. Just thinking about it now is making my mouth salivate, so really, if you come to Berlin, you must try and find Helvetia of you like cheese. The address is Mariannenstrasse 50, 10997 Berlin. Go. Go. Go!
After stuffing ourselves silly, we went out for a few more drinks and the others carried on to a club a little later, but having Day 1a the next day, I thought I better go with the sensible option and opt for an early night, well 2 a.m.
The day before we had also gone out to explore the city and all its history. There was of course a lot of history and I always loved coming to look at some of the old pieces of the Berlin wall that were still visible for the world to see. We had never visited the TV tower before, so felt we should take in the whole experience and see Berlin from up in the clouds and from a 360-degree view. There's no need for you to do the same though, as it's all here for you to take a look in the welcome video!
We knew Berlin was going to be a huge field right before the Grand Final and we weren't wrong. We played 10 levels on both Day 1a and 1b, which was pretty unheard of. Yet, it meant the total field of 750 players had been reduced to 102 by the end of Day 2, so ultimately it was a good thing.
A number of Team PokerStars Pros had gathered at the felt to try and conquer EPT Berlin, but it was not to be. German Team Pro Jan Heitmann made it the furthest by coming 29th and taking home ?17,500. It was such a pleasure to see Jan as well because he was such a great person and didn't frequent all the tour stops. In fact, I think it had been a whole year since I had seen him at last EPT Berlin. He was willing to get involved and make my videos fun, including making a rather silly video, which showed off his piano talents a lot more than mine. I should have, however, received the EPT Oscar after making this video with him ;)
As we got closer to the final table, although no Team Pros remained, we did have the chance of a double crown champion as former EPT Berlin Champion Kevin MacPhee, EPT Copenhagen Champion Anton Wigg and EPT Snowfest Champion Vladimir Geshkenbein all remained in the final 19 players. However this hope was also short-lived, as MacPhee busted in 19th, Wigg in 14th and Geshkenbein in 10th, even though the Russian did have his lucky monkey looking after his chips and his token alcoholic beverage next to him.
However, the final table was still an exciting one, with Canadian Andrew Chen and Belgian Davidi Kitai being the two players with most notable performance history and indeed making it to heads-up. Kitai held the chip lead for most of the day though it did pass to Chen a few times once the players had reduced. It was not a particularly long heads-up battle either, which was great seeing as our video team had to leave Berlin at 5 a.m. to get to Monaco (with a 4 hour stopover in Dusseldorf - its not all glamour!!) Davidi Kitai had become the first ever Belgian EPT Champion and the Belgians were having a great run recently for sure. He spoke to me after play and here is his interview:
So onward bound to Monaco, with no break in between Berlin and The Grand Final. I had my bags packed full of food as I had heard it was a little pricey in this glamorous principality. I just hoped it didn't all fall out on the flight and smother my dresses! I leave you with some of the outtakes from EPT Berlin (which went out the video before the winner interview). Yes, we are a silly bunch! Until next time. Auf Wiedersen!
It is with great pleasure that we find ourselves this week in Perth, Western Australia, as the Australia New Zealand Poker Tour rolls into town for the second official event of the Season 4 calendar. Originally scheduled as a standalone series known as the Perth Poker Championships, this event was recently upgraded to full ANZPT status following the withdrawal of the Gold Coast event due to casino renovations. Jupiters' loss is Burswood's gain as the best poker players in the country will flock to across the border to produce what is likely to be Perth's largest ever tournament by number of entrants, with an anticipated prize pool in excess of AU$300,000.
While there will be plenty of locals in the field, and the West have certainly produced plenty of highly-talented players over the years, there will be many making the long trip across the Nullarbor to one of the most popular destinations on the tour.
However it is a long trip from the Eastern states to one of the world's most remote cities. Perth is so isolated to the rest of the country that it, in fact, lays closer geographically to Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia, than Australia's own capital of Canberra. Travelling five hours on a plane, across two time zones, and land in the same country that you started, doesn't happen every day. But Perth is worth the long haul as a vibrant, modern city welcomes us with open arms.
The Burswood Entertainment Complex will play hosts once again this week, and upon arrival here this evening it appears that big changes are in store. Already this year, the complex has welcomed new restaurants and a day spa, but the mass of construction and scaffolding suggests that even bigger developments are on the way before the official rebranding to Crown Perth later in the year. It's an exciting time for everyone here in Perth as the poker room will no doubt only be enhanced by these changes.
When we were here last year, the title was brought back to the East when Grant Levy landed a historic victory to become just the second player, after Kiwi Brotha D, to secure both APPT and ANZPT trophies. We've received word that Grant is unfortunately unable to defend his title, so that means we'll be assured of a new champion this week.
Despite the absence of the defending champ, we will have plenty of big names in town, including Team PokerStars Pro Bryan Huang who was spotted en route to Perth directly from the recently completed APPT Cebu. Huang has made several appearances on the ANZPT without a whole lot of luck, so he will be keen to make an impression this time around.
It all gets underway at 12:30pm (GMT+8) on Wednesday afternoon and we'll have all the live updates and videos interviews for you exclusively right here on the PokerStars blog. Join us for what should be an exciting week on the felt!