The largest online poker room in the world has once again shown its diversity by hosting one of the best live events. Season Nine of the European Poker Tour (EPT) has come to an end, the Red Spade has been stowed away in the garden shed and the world of poker now splinters into separate factions. Some head to the glorious sunshine of Las Vegas and the World Poker Tour (WPT) Championships at the Bellagio, followed by the World Series of Poker (WSOP); and others find shelter indoors where they will finish grinding the Spring Championship of Online Poker (SCOOP), before heading out into the damp cold air to play in the inaugural International Stadiums Poker Tour (ISPT) at Wembley.
Players from 55 different countries took part in 46-events during a nine day period that saw millions of euros handed out in prize pools, a feat that only the World Series of Poker (WSOP) has the power to eclipse. The Main Event was a €10,600 No Limit Hold’em (NLHE) event that saw the American Steve O’Dwyer finally get his hands on one of the majors, after reaching final tables on no less that seven different occasions. O’Dwyer overcame 530 other players, including arguably the most difficult final table in EPT history, to earn €1,224,000 in prize money and did so by rivering quads in his final showdown whilst trailing to the flush of the Canadian Andrew Pantling. It was quite a remarkable ending to a remarkable main event.
Unbelievably, that first prize of €1,224,000, was not the highest prize distributed during the Monte Carlo festival. The €100,000 Super High Roller Re-Entry attracted 50-buy-ins contributing to a total prize pool of €4,851,000, and €1,746,000 was reserved for first place. For a long while it seemed that the resurgent Jason Mercier was going to go all of the way. Fresh from his €2k Open Face Chinese victory – where he earned €48k beating a final table that included Victor Ramdin, Alex Kravchenko and Joseph Cheong – Mercier led from Day One right through to the start of the final table. But the man on a mission had to settle for a second place berth on this occasion; the pain eased somewhat with a band-aid worth €1,115,700 to cover up any potential sores. Mercier, went through the first losing run of his year during 2012, so although he’ll be disappointed that he didn’t win, he will be one very happy man as he heads to London to finish off grinding SCOOP.
So who was better than Mercier? Who managed to win €1,746,000? The poker media were left with more question marks than answers, as the winner had never cashed in a live tournament in his life. Max Altergott is another of those German geniuses that roll off the German manufacturing line with the look and feel of a top of the range Mercedes Benz. It seems rather ridiculous that the only line in his Hendon Mob statistics should read €1,746,000, but don’t let that fool you into believing that this kid is inexperienced. IveyPoker Pro Greg Merson tweeted that Altergott is one of the best he has ever faced in high stakes no-limit cash games. Other than that, and a fourth place finish in the 2012 $10,300 SCOOP Main Event for $369,581, very little is known about Altergott and for good reason – his business is his own business. Incredibly, Altergott was one of the last people to register after a last minute change of heart turned his attention towards Monte Carlo. After originally deciding to travel to Vancouver to grind the SCOOP series, Altergott decided to see if he could find enough backers to create a package to play in this event. As it turned out there were enough people who had faith in his ability and he has repaid them in kind.
“My heart was beating like crazy in the last hand that’s for sure,” Altergott told PokerNews sideline reporter Kristy Arnett, after the sweetest moment of his young life.
Altergott was not the only remarkable piece of German engineering setting Monte Carlo alight. Ole Schemion final tabled four side events, and bagged three victories, for over €200,000 in earnings, which takes his 2013 earnings just under $1 million, and he will be one to watch when he heads over to the WSOP in a few weeks time. Long time leader of the Global Poker Index (GPI) top 300 rankings, and last years GPI European Player of the Year, Marvin Rettenmaier, also bagged himself a side-event victory when he overcame 64-players in the €2k Turbo for a €43,400 win. That victory emulated the €2k score he had in the same competition last year. A win that was the springboard to an incredible run that saw him become the first player to win back-to-back WPT titles.
Talking about the WPT and Paul Volpe was in town and kicking ass as usual. Volpe is still trailing Matt Salsberg by 175-points in the WPT Player of the Year (POY) race and boy does that man have the Midas touch. Not only did the American finish 20th in the main event, but he also took first in both a €2k and the €10k Turbo for over €200,000 in earnings before retiring to his room and winning SCOOP Event #4: $2,100 Badugi by denying Shaun Deeb his sixth SCOOP title in heads-up action.
Volpe wasn’t the only player who was mixing it up both live and online. Adam ‘Roothlus’ Levy made the final table of the €1k EPT Monte Carlo Cup at the same time that he final tabled the SCOOP Event #3 $55+R 6-Max. It was an amazing scene as Levy found himself trying to manage the live challenges against the likes of Rhys Jones and David Peters, whilst simultaneously battling it out online with the likes of Mohsin Charania, Chris Brammer and Steve Gross. Levy finished third in the Monaco Cup but did win the SCOOP event after a heads-up encounter with Charania.
Last, but certainly not least, the EPT POY race ended emphatically after the long time leader, Jan Bendik, won the €1k side event for €39,400, and finished fourth in a €2k for €28,400, to cap off a wonderful season on the tour for the Slovakian. But as the PokerStars bloggers alluded to earlier in this tournament, I doubt if he even knows he was even involved in a POY race.