“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.”
That Charles Darwin quote is one of my favorites because I see it played out in the theatre of life every day. Black Friday changed the life of every online poker player who was based in the USA. It didn’t matter how strong your game was, or how intelligent you were when it came to discussing the fundamentals of poker. If you weren’t able to adapt, you were going to go down with the sinking ship, and there was no telling when the wreckage would be salvaged.
Steve O’Dwyer slung a few clothes in his rucksack, pulled a beanie over his long brown hair and jumped on a plane bound for Europe. There are thousands that will tell you that Black Friday was the worse thing that happened to them. That it pulled out their heart and handed it to Hannibal on a plate. Not Steve O’Dwyer – for him, Black Friday was the best thing that could ever have happened to him. With a few months of landing on this cold mass of a continent, O’Dwyer was sitting on more final tables than a busty blonde dealer. He was earning more money than he had ever imagined was possible on the virtual felt, he was meeting his new people and he was eating and drinking in some of the most luxurious places in the world. But something was still missing. Steve O’Dwyer just couldn’t find that extra little bit of luck, or skill, needed to be crowned a champion in one of the big three.
That was until yesterday….
It took seven major final table appearances before Steve O’Dwyer finally nailed it by becoming the European Poker Tour (EPT) Grand Final Champion in Monte Carlo. The American outlasted 530 of the world’s greatest poker players, and a final table bursting with brilliance, to earn €1,224,000 and set himself up nicely for what promises to be an outstanding summer in the sun.
Before a final table card was thrown in anger, the poker press was calling the EPT Grand Final ‘The Best EPT Final Table Ever!’ And that’s some accolade from a tour that generates some amazing action at final tables throughout Europe and the Caribbean. There were four Team PokerStars Pros in Johnny Lodden, Daniel Negreanu, Jake Cody and Jason Mercier, former WPT Champion Noah Schwartz, Asia-Pacific star Grant Levy and the CEO of Matchbook, and damn good poker player, Andrew Pantling.
In fact, the heads-up action fell between O’Dwyer and Pantling and for once it was a testing time for both players after Pantling decided he didn’t fancy a deal, meaning there was a pay jump of €382k between first and second.
“I asked for a deal when we got three handed and nobody wanted it. It was very stressful but I’m glad I ran as well as I did.
“I needed to get lucky to win because these guys are so good. It was always going to come down to who had the best day and I guess that was me…I ran really, really well,” O’Dwyer told PokerNews sideline reporter Kristy Arnett with a very wry smile.
The nutshell events at the final table went a little something like this:
Grant Levy was the first player eliminated after he moved in on a flop of [Jh] [7c] [3c], holding [Ah] [Ks], and was called by Andrew Pantling holding [Jc] [Tc]. The [Ac] on the turn handing the Canadian the flush to send Levy home in eighth for €103,000. Jason Mercier was next to leave the party and once again it was Pantling acting as party-pooper. Mercier moving in with the short stack – and [Qs] [Th] – only to run into the [Ad] [Qd] of Pantling and five community cards later Mercier was out in seventh for €137,000. Daniel Negreanu took the scalps of Jake Cody and Noah Schwartz in a three-way all-in. Negreanu held aces; Cody held jacks and Schwartz king-ten. No help for either player with Schwartz taking sixth for €189,000 and Cody taking fifth for €251,000. The impressive Negreanu suffered a cooler at the hands of Johnny Lodden when his pocket queens lost out in a pre flop all-in against the pocket of nines of the Norwegian, and when his short stack went in with pocket fours, Lodden was on hand to finish the job with [Ad] [Qd] and a little help from Broadway on the river. Lodden continued the sequence of victor turned railbird when he was out in third. It was a three-bet pot with Lodden the aggressor holding [Ah] [Jd] and O’Dwyer holding [Ad] [Th]. The board ran out [Td] [7c] [4s] [3s] [Kd] and Lodden c-bet the flop before shoving the turn only to see O’Dwyer call in both spots.
That left O’Dwyer heads up against Pantling and this is why O’Dwyer was left with a wry smile during his post match interview. O’Dwyer raised from the button to 240,000 holding [Tc] [8h] and Pantling called with [Ks] [5s]. The flop was [Js] [8s] [8d], giving O’Dwyer trips and Pantling the flush draw. Pantling check-called a 300,000 O’Dwyer bet and the turn was needed. The dealer put the [4s] on the felt and Pantling was now in a dominating position with the flush. The Canadian checked, O’Dwyer bet 600,000, Pantling check-raised to 1,425,000, O’Dwyer moved all-in and Pantling called. So Pantling was looking forward to a 2 to 1 chip lead when the dealer put the [8c] on the river to hand O’Dwyer quads and the title.
So what next Steve?
“I’m gonna play the €100k tomorrow and then try to become the first person to win two of these things.”