Thomas Auston Preston, Jr, known as "Amarillo Slim" to generations of poker fans, has passed away at the age of 83. Preston won the 1972 World Series of Poker in Las Vegas and was part of the inaugural selection of the Poker Hall of Fame in 1992. He also wrote or co-wrote several books about the game and himself. His son, Bucky Preston, said on Monday that his father had died of colon cancer Sunday in hospice care in Amarillo, TX.
I’ve been uncharacteristic this year in my coverage of the Kentucky Derby for 2012. There are so many reasons for this that I hardly know where to start. But, start I must, so here goes: “Back in the day” – it used to be so much less complicated to pick a winning horse. Not easier, [...]
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Certain things are just easier in a High Roller's world. You need to get to Monte Carlo from Nice? Helicopter it is, or maybe give the Ferrari a spin. You want a round of drinks, and one for the nanny, there's your ?1,000, no problem. Similarly, if you need to get to the final table of a poker tournament before the sun comes up, rely on the High Rollers to get it done.
They may have parted with at least ?25,000 a head and be eyeing a first prize of more than a million, but we eased through day two of this event at the PokerStars and Monte-Carlo® Casino EPT Grand Final. There were 45 players at noon, but only room for eight big reputations at the final tomorrow, so they duly set about deciding who it would be.
The answer they came up with was as follows:
Seat one - Philip Gruissem - 990,000
Seat two - Igor Kurganov - 1,288,000
Seat three - Daniel Negreanu - 660,000
Seat four - Justin Bonomo - 2,202,000
Seat five - Max Lykov - 271,000
Seat six - Artem Litvanov - 331,000
Seat seven - Noah Schwartz - 522,000
Seat eight - Nathan Schoo - 387,000
As ever that is a spectacular final table for a single poker tournament, and demonstrates once again what an off-the-charts brilliant season a couple of those guys are having.
Justin Bonomo described himself earlier today as running "hotter than the sun", and he wasn't only responding to a pot in which he sent two players to the rail with the worst hand.
Justin Bonomo: When you're hot you're Bonomo
In that spot, Bonomo had called all in with jacks against queens and kings, but turned a jack to send two out. But really Bonomo was referring to his victory earlier in the week in the ?100,000 Super High Roller event, which netted him more than a million.
He is taking a massive lead to this final again, a huge chunk of which he won on the last hand of the night. He was up against Phil Ivey, which is formidable enough. But when you take on Phil Ivey, who is holding a set of kings, and still win, you know this is your time.
When they got all the money in on the turn on what would prove to be the final pot, Bonomo had top pair and a flush draw. The latter hit on the river and Ivey was out in ninth.
"When you're hot, you're hot," Bonomo said. Two High Roller titles in a week - plus a main event cash - is positively ElkY-esque.
Grospellier himself flamed out of this tournament, but that doesn't mean Team PokerStars Pro isn't represented. The ever-reliable High Roller supremo Daniel Negreanu booked his place at the party tomorrow with a display of characteristic grit.
Daniel Negreanu: looking at another final table
As big pots were taking place all around him, Negreanu stuck to his small ball game - and all of a sudden he had a huge stack. If you small ball it enough in the right spots, that tends to happen.
Negreanu on form is a pleasure to watch, and he too is running hot. He made the same Super High Roller final table that Bonomo won, so tomorrow will be a match between the form players of the month.
Negreanu isn't the only Team PokerStars Pro heading to the final tomorrow. Maxim Lykov is another who is a delight to see in full flow, and the way he ground up from being a short stack at bubble time demonstrated just how complete this young man's game has become. We've seen him destroy tournaments with a big stack (EPT Kyiv, for example), but he has many, many gears.
Max Lykov: pretty good with the short-stack too
All of that is before we even begin with another sensational story. What a year is being had by Philip Gruissem. The young German won the High Roller in Barcelona (for ?234,000), he won the High Roller in London (?450,200) and final tabled High Roller events in both Prague and San Remo.
If you chopped him in half at the waist, the words High Roller run through him like a stick of Monte Carlo rock. Gruissem is third in chips heading into his fifth High Roller event of the season. I'm not sure anything even close has ever been achieved before.
Philip Gruissem: Unstoppable high roller
Did I forget anyone? Well, there was almost Phil Ivey until he flew too close to the Bonomo sun. So it rests on the shoulders of any of Igor Kurganov, Artem Litvinov, Noah Schwartz or Nathan Schoo to write their own story tomorrow. Otherwise it's the same old, brilliant, faces.
Play begins at noon, and we'll have full coverage here. Click through if you want to check out how things went down in the main event today, or look back on today's action with the links below.
Andrey Pateychuk bubbles
Daniel Negreanu fits in among the leaders
Andrew Badecker: chip leader
A Round With ... Phil Ivey and Liv Boeree
Bright stars shining brightest
The run-good myth
The return of the High Rollers
Thanks again to Lina Olofsson for pictures. See you tomorrow.
Mohsin Charania was crowned The PokerStars Monte-Carlo®Casino European Poker Tour Grand Final champion tonight after the type of final that went exactly the way it should have done. Sure, the romantics wanted the first woman to reach an EPT Grand Final, Lucille Cailly, to win in front of a French rail looking for a reason to celebrate. But throughout the week Charania had the edge not just on Cailly, but on the field, becoming the Season 8 Grand Final champion tonight, earning ?1,350,000.
Charania took the title after a brief heads-up, and what was a brief final table, with the blinds hoisted high after two long days prior. With play down to two a deal was struck (not as simple as it sounds, it took 20 minutes) and play continued. Charania won one, Cailly won another and so on, until Cailly found ace-king and Charania found queens. There was only one outcome and an uninterested board delivered the title to Charania.
"When I'm winning every time I'm all-in it's of awesome benefit to me. I get to sleep in longer," said Charania. "I thought they (his final table opponents) were pretty tough but I felt really good. I thought I was the best player going in luckily the cards helped me prove that."
Cailly's was a distinctively impressive performance. While others around her struggled to find a rhythm, Cailly was sure of herself, not letting the few setbacks she suffered disturb her focus. Instead she ploughed on, powered by a Francophile rail and a few Marlboros. It is the breakthrough result for the Frenchwoman and we'll see more of her when the tour restarts in August.
For the others they would do well to follow the lead set by Charania and Cailly.
Frenchman Bernard Guigon finished third after an impressive display of laddering. Every once in a while a player turns up at a final who seems oblivious to the demands of being on television, of being at a final table or playing in front of an audience. Guigon simply played the game he'd loved for decades and earned ?545,000 for it. Unconventional, a little slow perhaps and not on a par with the winner, Guigon deserves a hat tip for the performance nonetheless.
It was all over in just six-and-a-half hours, kicking off at 1.30pm this afternoon with a one hour televised delay on EPTLive.
At the start it had all been about Cailly, thanks mainly to the rail she'd amassed who had sourced a dozen blond wigs at ?10 apiece, to support their heroine. Cailly thrived on it and the others could only dream of such encouragement.
Play almost got through a level without an elimination until Daniel Gomez went first. With the blinds already steep for the Spaniard, he found himself with ace-queen and did what he had to do, except he ran it into the jacks of Rodrigo Caprioli and more importantly the kings of Sergio Castelluccio. Gomez got a queen on the flop but nothing more.
Following in seventh was Clayton Mozdzen, whose desire to win this week was never in doubt. The Canadian set off a string of rapid eliminations. He went when his ace-ten was toppled not by Catelluccio's ace-ten but by Cailly's pocket nines.
The other Canadian at the final, Michael Dietrich followed. Charania found ace-king which swept aside Dietrich's ace-nine. The dust had hardly settled when Caprioli was also busted. He found pocket queens while Castelluccio took him on with ace-eight. Nothing up to the turn; an ace though on the river.
This left four players who settled into a steady tempo, Charania leading, with Guigon holding on by tightening up even further.
Ultimately Castelluccio would go in fourth. He felt confident when he four-bet shoved with jacks and Cailly paused for an agonising period of time before calling with ace-queen. The flop changed nothing but the queen on the turn sent the Italian to the rail, while arming Cailly with the chips she'd need to take on Charania.
It would be wrong to say Guigon came to life, but he doubled up. But his burst of energy could not last for long, and with ace-four he got his chips in, which Charania saw off with king-queen, the flop making him trips.
Both heads-up players put the work in, and like we said, the romantics favoured the Cailly win. But Charania, whose record live begins to rival his online accomplishments, had the edge and merits his EPT Grand Final title, bringing a fantastic season to an end.
The final result:
1st - Mohsin Charania, PokerStars Qualifier, ?1,350,000
2nd - Lucille Cailly, PokerStars Qualifier, ?1,050,000
3rd - Bernard Guigon, ?545,000
4th - Sergio Castelluccio, ?400,000
5th - Rodrigo Caprioli, PokerStars Player, ?315,000
6th - Michael Dietrich, PokerStars Qualifier, ?245,000
7th - Clayton Mozdzen, PokerStars Qualifier, ?185,000
8th - Daniel Gomez, ?130,000
That's the quick version, you can read the long version on our live coverage page, which also details all the pay-outs from the main event. For everything else check out the links below:
That brings an end to the EPT Grand Final main event, and the season. Well kind of. You can still follow the goings on in the ?25,000 High Roller event which is reaching a crucial stage as we speak (and that's without an hour delay). They play to a winner tomorrow.
Also tomorrow is the Tournament of Champions which you can watch in its entirety on EPT Live, complete with hole cards, as well as following the action on the PokerStars Blog.
We're now heading home to re-introduce ourselves to our wives and girlfriends, after a year of writing about people without wives or girlfriends. It was all rather excellent which suggests Season 9 should be too.
For that, we'll see you in August. For now, it's goodnight from Monaco.
All photography © Neil Stoddart
No matter how many poker tournaments you cover, in no matter how many casinos around the world,
the fact that this place has a self-cleaning toilet is amazing bubble time is always kind of tense.
It might be counter-intuitive to most casual observers, however, to learn that the higher the buy in in an event, the less on edge the players tend to be as these notoriously fraught period arrives. If you can spare $25,000 for a high-variance poker tournament, you're not going to be new to this whole thing, and neither are you going to be ruined if you don't make that min-cash.
So it was just now in Monaco, where the High Roller has just played into the money. It was Andrey Pateychuk who did the decent thing and was knocked out, finding out the hard way that aces don't always win the day.
Pateychuk was one of a handful of short stacks when we reached our final 15, but he opted only to make a standard opening raise after looking down at [ah][ac], allowing Justin Bonomo to call from the small blind. (Many lesser players would have just shoved with those aces to be on the safe side.)
The flop came [6s][js][10h] and Bonomo check-raised Pateychuk all in. Pateychuk called and saw that Bonomo was holding [as][2s] for the flush draw. The [3s] came on the turn and that was the end of that for Pateychuk.
Justin Bonomo, bubble burster
He's had an amazing season, winning EPT San Remo for ?680,000 and adding a WPT title in Prague. But Pateychuk is our bubble boy here. We're now pushing on to the final table.
The atmosphere around the final table tonight has been electric as France willed their player over the finish line. Lucille Cailly of France put in the performance of her life and so narrowly missed out on taking down the EPT Grand Final title. She ended heads-up against Mohsin Charania and in a final hand where she found her Ace-King (without improvement) up against her opponent's pocket queens she had to settle for second place and ?1,050,000.
The cheers around the tournament hall for a performance that will go down in poker history books was compounded by a standing ovation (some even on their chairs!) by the entire field of the ladies event.
Meanwhile the ?1,000 NLH Women's tournament has returned from the dinner break. Play has been slow with 39 out of the 47 runners still standing but the resounding opinion of those playing and railing is that the standard in these tournaments just gets better and better. A fact than even the dealers were tweeting about.
Julie Monsacre of France is one of the early chip leaders alongside Lithuanian Ingrid Klanssen. Team Pokerstars Pro Vanessa Selbst was a late entry and is still in contention.
An assortment of chip counts...
Julie Monsacre (France) 35,000
Ingrid Klanssen (Lithuania) 25,000
Maya Geller Antonius (Finland) 22,000
Darya Hulyk 21,450
Jan Combes 19,925
Nicole Kohlmoos 16,800
Jennifer Shahade 13,500
Victoria Coren 12,950
Lynne Beaumont 12,900
Anouk Aletrino 10,900
Corina Lupascu (Romania) 10,075
Gracy Barberane (France) 8,475
Francesca Angliolillo (Italy) 7,925
Natalie Hof 7,075
Sandra Salomon 6,625
The prize-pool has also been announced and the breakdown is as follows:
It may be raining outside but nothing is dampening the spirits of the female players inside the tournament area of the The PokerStars Monte-Carlo®Casino European Poker Tour Grand Final. The ?1,000 Women's Event has just kicked off with 35 runners and over on the Main Event Final Table Lucille Cailly of France is putting in a sterling performance as she battles it out for the title with just three players remaining.
Among the field in the ?1,000 Women's Event is Team Pokerstars Pro Victoria Coren, fresh from her win in the ?5,000 NLH Heads Up Event and Friend of Pokerstars Charlotte Van Brabander.
Other pros include Isabelle Mercier and Leo Margets, who made a side event final table at EPT Madrid last month.
Also in attendance are double Ladies Champion (2007 & 2008) Lynne Beaumont and Irish Open Ladies Champion 2010 Claire Renault hoping to add another title to their collections.
Jan Coombes, winner of the EPT London Ladies event last October, is also here and hoping to repeat her success here in Monte Carlo - perhaps she will end up against Lynne Beaumont at the heads-up stage again!
One to watch is serial qualifier Xuan Xuan Liu who took her live earnings over $1 million earlier this year when she took home $600,000 for her fourth place finish in the PCA $10,000 NLH event.
The tournament is still accepting late registrations throughout the first two 50 minute levels but in the meantime all eyes are still on that Main Event Final Table hoping for a top place finish from Lucille Cailly.
As you may have noticed if you have been following our colleagues over on the dark side of PokerStars Blog, the main event of the Grand Final - sorry, the main event of the PokerStars and Monte-Carlo® Casino EPT Grand Final - is over. They are wandering the halls, breaking down the set and unscrewing every single one of those lightbulbs that make the huge video wall.
But fear not! The High Roller endures. We have 16 players sill left on this side of proceedings, and we need to make them eight. That will take a good few hours yet, so there is still an awful lot of poker to be played.
Shortly before the end of level 16, Daniel Negreanu was brought to the same table as the chip-leading Andrew Badecker. He was joined by Philip Gruissem, among others, who was second in chips at the time.
Daniel Negreanu on day two at the High Roller
And Negreanu is nothing if not a stickler for neatness. And with the two big stacks sitting next to each other already, the Team PokerStars Pro decided to make it a threesome: he flopped a set of deuces to beat Joe Elpayaa's queens and move up to 730,000.
That meant that he made his stack the third largest in the room and when they went to dinner, Badecker (883,000), Gruissem (881,000) and Negreanu (730,000), all in a row, were all leading this thing.
They have now returned from dinner and straight into immediate bubble trouble. Only 14 get paid from the 16 players we have left. We're now about to find out who is leaving with nowt.
Bovada kicked off their qualifiers and satellites that allow you to win a seat in the 2012 World Series of Poker* Main Event at the beginning of April, and since then, seventeen players have earned their place in the biggest and best event that the world of poker has to offer. Let?s take a look at the dates our satellites took place and who found themselves getting ready for Las Vegas!
The EPT Season 8 awards are due to be given out at the closing party on Tuesday rewarding a select elite for their grind over the last nine months. They'll all have earned their plaudits but plenty of other unsung heroes will have to remain in the shadows. Don't ask why but we at the PokerStars Blog didn't actually get consulted on the Achievement of the Year or Player of the Year awards.* It's not like we've been at every event.
*It's a sponsorship impartiality thing. Bah humbug, say we.
So thumbing our nose at that decision we've decided to put forward a few of the players that haven't been short listed that we think deserve their own fleeting moment in the spotlight. In no particular order:
Ilan Boujenah has been one of this season's revelations. Three main event cashes, one final table and lungful's of histrionics, Boujenah has proved himself to be a precocious talent and one that will act as a catalyst for action at the table. Not the player that you want on your left. Another terror at the table is Melanie Weisner who ripped through the EPT Copenhagen main event but ran ace-queen into ace-king then the same hand into aces shortly after to go from chip lead to bust in around half an hour. She finished 28th there and in the same position at EPT Madrid just a couple of weeks later marking her third main event cash of the season. Weisner bust just before the money here but considering she finished runner-up to Victoria Coren in a tight 3-2 final in the ?5,000 Heads-Up here in Monaco for ?39,250. Weisner a wise-cracking, in-your-face kind of player who is not only happy taking on the worst kind of testosterone-fuelled macho players but seems to relish not only kicking them to the kerb but stamping her stiletto heels into the them for good measure. More deep runs to be expected.
For underestimated talent we can look at one of the quietest winners from the tour, Zimnan Ziyard. The Brit won EPT Loutraki for ?347,000, an event that was not streamed, so perhaps did not receive the kudos that he should have. Ziyard followed every play through if he thought it was the correct one, manipulating the final table stacks to an extent that's not frequently seen in live poker. At one point he re-shoved with [6h][2c] forcing runner-up Hauke Heseding out of the pot allowing him to knock out or treble up third-place finisher John Taramas. The move kind of made sense but few would be able to pull it with that amount of money at stake.
EPT Loutraki winner Zimnan Ziyard
Irishman Mick 'BIGMICKG' Graydon may not deserve an award this year but the onlint tournament specialist is certainly one to watch for next. A good friend of Team PokerStars Pro Jude Ainsworth, Graydon made a good run at the Player of the Year leader board scoring three main event cashes, one final table, as well as eight side events cashes. Graydon bust out in 24th with kings getting cracked by Ronny Kaiser's ace-king for the chip lead of EPT Tallinn. Kaiser hit, swiped a dominating stack and went on to win the event. Other players that fall into the 'They-nearly-got-it-but-no-doubt-will-be-back' award include auto big stack builder Martins Adeniya and fan's favourite Xuan Liu. Both made final tables neither quite got the rub of the green.
Mick Graydon (red jumper) with Jude Ainsworth
Martins Adeniya (left) with JP Kelly
However, perhaps more than anyone else the player that must be given a nod/thumbs-up/pat on the back is Phillip 'philbort' Gruissem. The German destroyed the High Roller scene earlier in the season scoring the following results:
Barcelona, ?10,000 buy-in: 1st, ?234,000
London, £20,000: 1st, £450,000
San Remo, ?10,000: 4th, ?68,600
Gruissem, who has won more than $2,000,000 in online tournaments online, is also the chip leader of in the ?25,000 High Roller which is down to it's final 16 players; 14 places pay. It's looking like it could be yet another giant score for the German. You can follow his final push by clicking through this link.
Can Gruissem win yet another High Roller? This one's worth ?1,080,000...
Philipp Gruissem has had an incredible season to look back on
Level 33: blinds 100,000-200,000, ante 30,000
Players: 3 of 665
Average stack: 6,650,000
Click here for live coverage and more features from The PokerStars and Monte-Carlo®Casino European Poker Tour Grand Final.