The fifth day of action at the Triton Poker Series sees nine people make it to the final table of the HKD 1,000,000 buy-in Main Event led by Steffen Sontheimer, and including the defending champion Manig Loeser.
In the beginning, about nine of us made the annual trip to Blackpool. November. The Grosvenor United Kingdom Poker Tour (GUKPT). We always stayed in this shack of a hotel. But it was ours. We played poker in the back seat of the car, on the pool table at the hotel. On our beds, while we took turns in the shower.
At the venue, the nine of us wanted to play together. We might as well have not left Ogmore Vale. But we loved it. We didn’t want to play with anyone else. There was no talk of finding weaker players that we could rob. We would chance our arm in the tournaments, but when it came to the cash games, we shared the same table.
Here at the Maestral Casino in Montenegro I see a similar pattern. I’m here to interview poker players, only the poker players don’t want to be interviewed. It’s partly fear, a little bit of privacy, but most of all, they don’t have the time. It seems it doesn’t matter what stakes you play poker handcuffs you to its britches.
Life revolves around the game.
Wake up, work out, eat breakfast, sit down and play.
Rui Cao, a high stakes poker player who learned the trade while playing with the best online players in France, before travelling to Macau to find out what all the fuss was about, has been playing in the highest stakes cash games all week. You’re talking marathon sessions that run longer than the progress of an online poker bill through Congress.
Yesterday, Cao made the final table of the HKD 1,000,000 Triton Poker Series Main Event with 40 big blinds. In a few hours, he will compete for a USD 2,500,000 first prize. How did Cao unwind from his long day of playing tournament poker? He jumped into a €1m buy-in cash game with the likes of Phil Ivey, Jason Koon and Patrik Antonius.
As Dell Boy used to say: sleep is for wimps.
But there has to be an end to the neverending game, right?
Most of these fascinating men began playing poker because of their love of video games. They are fully aware of the narrative. They have to beat the bad guys, destroy the end boss, and win the prize.
In poker, nobody knows who the end boss is.
The prize seems to be millions of dollars, but what is that number?
Is the end goal a life stuck in a mobility scooter racing around the Rio searching for the action?
Questions that need answers and I can’t sit people down long enough to ask them, and when I do, they don’t have a clue. The stereotypical live life in the moment if I ever saw it.
At the end of Day 1, in the HKD 1,000,000 Triton Poker Main Event, only 39 players had entered. By the end of late registration on Day 2, the number had grown to 63 (41 unique, 22 re-entries).
Leading the pack is Steffen Sontheimer. The Poker Masters winner has 100 big blinds to play with, and a winning mentality recently injected into his brain by talking business with some of the sharpest minds in the game.
Two of Sontheimer’s crew have made the final table with him. The reigning champion, Manig Loeser, is in the hunt with 40 bigs, and Dietrich Fast brings up the rear with a nine big blind shoving stack.
The other person of note at the final table is Steve O’Dwyer. Yesterday, during my interview with Dietrich Fast, the Russian born star called O’Dwyer the worst player in high stakes poker, while also acknowledging that the American somehow wins all of the money. O’Dwyer starts with 29 big blinds and more final table experience than anyone around him.
And there is Cao.
We won’t have to wake him up.
He will likely leave his seat in the €1m cash game and walk straight into the tournament. 36-48 hours straight is nothing to these guys, these poker players, these end bosses.
Final Table Results
1. Steffen Sontheimer – 3,980,000
2. Peter Jetten – 1,960,000
3. Mikita Badziakouski – 1,945,000
4. Ivan Leow – 1,655,000
5. Rui Cao – 1,610,000
6. Manig Loeser – 1,590,000
7. Wai Leong Chan – 1,305,000
8. Steve O’Dwyer – 1,155,000
9. Dietrich Fast – 350,000
1. 19,618,400 (USD 2,499,306)
2. 13,217,000 (USD 1,683,793)
3. 8,002,000 (USD 1,019,382)
4. 5,512,000 (USD 702,179)
5. 3,793,000 (USD 483,194)
6. 2,845,000 (USD 362,427)
7. 2,312,000 (USD 294,526)
8. 2,015,000 (USD 256,691)
9. 1,956,000 (USD 249,175)