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October 6, 2008 7:30 PM

EPT £1 Million Pound Showdown - Done!

High roller events on the European Poker Tour are some of the most expensive side events in the world. The Million Pound Showdown at EPT London this week was the richest we've seen on these shores. It cost £20,000 to enter, somewhere between $30,000 and $40,000 and the Million Pound part referred to the guaranteed prize pool. As it happens, the 86 players soared past that generous guarantee and when they convened yesterday, they knew they were playing for a first prize of £516,000.

Step forward Jason Mercier for it is yours.

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Jason Mercier

Mercier's victory here completed a remarkable few months for the young American professional. Last April, he rose to prominence as a PokerStars qualifier in San Remo where he took down €869,000 first prize. He made a World Series final table, and then he was back around the felt of the EPT last month, finishing sixth for another huge chunk. He took the short flight to London, bought into this huge event and bludgeoned his way to this final table. He'll now take another half a million pounds back to Florida.

It was a measure of the quality of the field beaten by Mercier that between the final three players - Mercier joined by John Juanda and Michael Watson - there was a triple crown won in the past year. As mentioned, Mercier is the reigning EPT San Remo champion. Watson won the $15,000 WPT Bellagio Cup in Las Vegas in the summer. And just last weekend John Juanda took down the WSOP Europe event to add to his other bracelets and titles.

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The final table line-up

Add to that the multiple bracelet winner Scotty Nguyen, the online sensation Isaac Haxton, the huge cash player David Benyamine and the Team PokerStars Pro Isabelle Mercier, and we were looking at a table of the very highest quality. (For the record, the Million Dollar Man Dennis Phillips, chip leader at next month's WSOP main event final table, bubbled. It was a tough field; I'm sure you get the point.)

Isabelle Mercier has honed her game on the EPT, finishing two of the final table at the first Monte Carlo Grand Final, then making sixth spot in Deauville on season two. She's had several cashes at the World Series, including a final table in 2006, and few were surprised to see her back around the final table felt, even if she perished first today - ninth place - for £51,000.

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Team PokerStars Pro Isabelle Mercier

The Team PokerStars Pro was the first casualty of Watson's early mad rush. The two Canadians were short-stacked early, but Watson was catapulted up the ladder when he took Mercier's chips with A-K against her A-J, and then he also accounted for Benyamine, who couldn't get his characteristically aggressive style going with a short stack all day. Watson gleefully heard Benyamine call when the PokerStars player found aces. Benyamine's K-J never caught up.

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David Benyamine

Watson wasn't done, and having knocked out the final European in Benjamine, he then accounted for the only other player from outside north America. That was the Japanese high roller Masaaki Kagawa, who got busy once they went down to seven. But he was eventually ensnared by Watson's A-K, especially cruel since the Japanese had A-Q. There was no outdraw and Watson had taken them down to six.

Up next for the guillotine was Haxton, whose tournament strategy, cultivated on the online tables of PokerStars, is pretty much faultless. He made no mistake in shoving pre-flop with pocket eights; no mistake, that is, except running into Juanda's aces. Again, there was no outdraw and Haxton took home another massive payday as well as another bold entry on his resume.

Isaac Haxton talked to the video blog team about the final...

Watch High Roller London 08: Isaac Haxton on

Until that point, Peter Jetton had been a fairly quiet presence at the final table, despite having the largest stack at the start of play and having held onto it as all the others shared it out. He doubled up the short stack of Nguyen, then we played through more than 90 minutes with five players. But Nguyen, in a buoyant mood throughout the final table, was finally sharing his monologue with the post-match interview crew after Juanda's K-9 outdrew his A-10.

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Scotty Nguyen

Jetton was jettisoned soon after when he clashed with the ever-growing stack in front of Mercier. They got cute with one another pre-flop, before subtlety made way and they got all their chips in. Mercier had lowly pocket deuces, Jetton an A-J. But the ducks made a set on the flop and there's no way back.

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Peter Jetten

Three handed was an intriguing battle between these form horses. Watson doubled up a couple of times but could never overtake either of his opponents, who exchanged the lead between them. Watson was obdurate but eventually succumbed with A-7 to Juanda's A-K. That left Juanda with a two-to-one chip lead, but it soon vanished in a crucial pot, the first of heads up, when Mercier called Juanda's all in with Q-J versus A-2. Mercier admitted that he thought Juanda could outplay him heads up, especially with the chips, so was prepared to get them in with a 60-40 shot.

They were good tactics as he rivered a jack to double up and then he did it again after a short heads-up duel. This time he took K-Q against A-J and flopped a broadway straight. A remarkably modest Mercier claimed he had sucked out on Juanda twice heads up. But his results of recent months reveal a real talent.

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John Juanda

So to Juanda, who nearly completed an historic double here. He had endured a 22-hour final table in the WSOPE last weekend, triumphing well into tomorrow. He came up one short here, but London has been good to him.

Hat's off, though, to Mercier. And to another terrific double-header on the EPT. Budapest is next, and London will still be here this time next year.


Take a look back at the action from the day with any of the following links:

The showdown continues
£1 Million Showdown updates – No 7
Final table update 1
EPT £1 Million showdown player profiles
Final table update 2
Final table update 3
Final table update 4
Final table update 5
Final table update 6

Take a look back at the full list of winners here. You can also read all about it in numerous exotic tongues. There's German, Italian, Dutch and even Swedish!

And don't forget to keep you entertained for as long as you need entertaining. EPT Live will be back in December for the EPT Prague, full details of which can be found on the EPT website.

October 6, 2008 6:13 PM

Final table update 6 - £1 Million Showdown

The final table of the £1 Million Showdown event at EPT London is underway. Blinds are 10,000-20,000 with a 2,000 ante. Full details of the payout structure can be found here and you can follow all the action on EPT Live.

Click REFRESH to see the lastest up-to-the-minute updates

12.10am: Jason Mercier of the United States, wins the EPT £1 Million Showdown, earning £516,000 for first place.
Following a Juanda raise Jason Mercier moved all-in for a total of 1,210,000, the third time in about 15 minutes. John Juanda talked out loud about it, saying that he couldn't fold again and made a long slow call showing As-Jc. Mercier turned over Kc-Qd and it was all left to the dealer. The flop was a beauty for Mercier, Th-9s-Js for a flopped straight, delivered by the poker gods. The 5s on the turn ended it and no one really cared about the river. Jason Mercier wins the EPT £1 Million Showdown.

12.09am: John Juanda, USA, eliminated in second place, earning £327,000.

12.03am: First flop of Tuesday
We see a limped flop of Jd-9d-Ks. Juanda checks and Mercier made it 33,000, getting called. Both check the 7h on the turn and 3s river. Juanda shows a nine, good for the pot.

11.57pm: Latest chip counts
Jason Mercier - 1,173,000
John Juanda - 548,000

11.47pm: Flopping hands
The hand started with a Juanda bet and a Mercier call for a flop of Jh-6s-Jd. Mercier checked the flop and Juanda bet out 55,000. Mercier called for a turn card 7d which both players checked. Now to the river card, a 5h. Mercier raised, 75,000. By now it was a 285,000 pot. It took him a while but Juanda called. Cue Mercier’s J-6. He’d flopped the full house for another big pot.

11.40pm: Chip counts after the first all-in
Jason Mercier - 1,084,000
John Juanda - 637,000

11.38pm: First hand, all-in
We don’t have to wait for the first all-in of the heads-up match. On the first hand John Juanda moves all-in. Mercier smiles, pulls a few faces and calls, showing Q-J. Juanda had A-2 which puts him ahead. All they can do is wait for the board. The flop came th-8h-7c, giving Mercier more outs with a queen, jack or nine giving him the pot. The turn misses but the river brings a jack, doubling up Mercier.

11.34pm: The heads up chip counts
John Juanda - 1,185,000
Jason Mercier - 536,000

11.31pm: Michael Watson, Canada, eliminated in third place, earning £241,000.
Michael Watson moves all-in for 365,000. Taking everyone by surprise John Juanda calls, and with good reason, turning over A-K to Watson’s A-7. The board doesn’t bring the much needed seven for Watson, who busts out in third. Play goes to heads up.

11.26pm: Checking to the river
Juanda takes down a tentatively played pot, checked from flop to river on a board of Td-Ad-3c-Jd-Ah. Juanda shows K-T for aces with a ten kicker, enough to beat Mercier who passes.

11.22pm: The blinds are up to 10,000-20,000 with a 2,000 ante. Chip counts three handed:

John Juanda, 646,000
Jason Mercier, 610,000
Michael Watson, 465,000

October 6, 2008 4:55 PM

Final table update 5 - £1 Million Showdown

The final table of the £1 Million Showdown event at EPT London is underway. Blinds are 8,000-16,000 with a 2,000 ante. Full details of the payout structure can be found here and you can follow all the action on EPT Live.

Click REFRESH to see the lastest up-to-the-minute updates

11.20pm: Mercier limping
Jason Mercier limps from the small blind, allowing him and John Juanda to see a flop of 6h-4s-4d. They check it all the way to the end, past a jack on the turn and a three on the river. And that's the last level of the day.

11.17pm: Watson again
Michael Watson calls Jason Mercier's pre-flop raise and then bets out on a board of 7h-Jh-9h. Mercier folds.

11.10pm: Watson on the charge
John Juanda bets from the button, and Michael Watson moves all in for 348,000, which is another 299,000 to Juanda. The American is not usually one to tank unnecessarily, so it seems like he has a real decision to make. He talks a little about his hand, strongly suggesting it's a medium ace. Watson remains impassive as Juanda continues his monologue. Eventually he fold and shows A-6. Watson does not oblige.

11.05pm: Techincal difficulties
John Juanda is having trouble with his hole cam, although he's reliably less concerned than the television crew. Three handed chip counts are:

Jason Mercier, 712,000
John Juanda, 707,000
Michael Watson 302,000

11pm: Mercier v Juanda II
John Juanda raises 46,000 and Jason Mercier makes it another 75,000. Juanda folds, not prepared to play for his whole stack at this point.

10.55pm: Watson doubles up
Michael Watson moves in pre-flop with Q-10 and Mercier calls from the small blind with A-8. A queen flops and that's enough. Watson doubles his short stack, although Mercier remains the chip leader.

10.52pm: Mercier v Juanda
With Michael Watson the very very short stack, he must be delighted to see Mercier and Juanda play a pot against one another. Mercier raises from the small blind, Juanda calls from the big and the flop comes 4h-2h-Qd. Check, check. Turnis the 10h and Mercier bets 65,00, Juanda calls. The river is the 3s, check, check and Mercier takes it down.

10.45pm: Form players remain
These three players have each had huge results in the past year. Indeed, they've won the triple crown between them. Michael Watson picked up the WPT Bellagio Cup, Jason Mercier won EPT San Remo, and John Juanda took the WSOPE event last week.

Chip counts three handed:

John Juanda: 813,000
Jason Mercier: 744,000
Michael Watson: 164,000

Peter Jetten, Canada, eliminated in fourth place, earning £189,000
10.40pm: Juanda flexing his muscles; Mercier and Jetten go head-to-head
The bullying chip-leader moves all in pre-flop a couple of times and picks up the blinds and antes. When Juanda gets out the way, Peter Jetten makes a standard buton raise, but Jason Mercier moves all in. And Jetten calls! Mercier doesn't look happy as he has to flip over pocket deuces. Jetten has A-J and flops an ace, but there's also a two on board. Eventually it runs out Qh-2c-Ad Ad-Kc which is a house for Mercier.

10.36pm: Michael Watson all in
The short-stacked Canadian moves all in pre-flop and picks up blinds and antes. That will do.

10.32pm: The two Js
John Juanda raises it to 49,000 pre-flop and Jetten calls from the big blind. The flop is Jh-Kd-10s, which they check, as they do the As turn. The river is the 2d and Juanda bets 30,000. Jetten folds to extend his chip lead.

10.30pm: Mercier bullies Jetten pre-flop
Peter Jetten raises to 52,000 pre-flop and Jason Mercier bumps it up to 140,000 from the small blind. Jetten opts to fold and Mercier adds that chunk to his stack.

10.25pm: Scotty Nguyen, USA, eliminated in fifth place, earning £157,500
John Juanda opens under the gun and Nguyen re-raises all in from the small blind. It's about 84,000 more. Jason Mercier is itching to call in the small blind but agonisingly folds. Juanda, of course, calls and he has K-9h. Nguyen is ahead with Ac-10s but there are two hearts on the flop and another on the river to make a flush. Nguyen is gone.

10.15pm: Nguyen forced to fold
Jason Mercier, under the gun, raises Scotty Nguyen's big blind. Of course he has to get through all the others first which he duly does and then Nguyen instructs Mercier to add his blind to Mercier's chip stack.

10pm: Players are on a 15 minute break
Players will return at 10.15pm with the following stacks:
John Juanda - 598,000
Peter Jetten - 480,000
Jason Mercier - 329,000
Michael Watson - 210,000
Scotty Nguyen - 104,000

October 6, 2008 3:55 PM

Final table update 4 - £1 Million Showdown

The final table of the £1 Million Showdown event at EPT London is underway. Blinds are 5,000-10,000 with a 1,000 ante. Full details of the payout structure can be found here and you can follow all the action on EPT Live.

10pm: Players take a break
That's the end of the level and there's a 15 minute break in action. Play will resume with the following chip counts:

John Juanda - 598,000
Peter Jetten - 480,000
Jason Mercier - 329,000
Michael Watson - 210,000
Scotty Nguyen - 104,000

9.55pm: Blind on blind
Jason Mercier raises John Juanda's big blind from the small. Juanda's resistance only lasts as far as the ten high flop and Juanda lets it go. The next hand, Scotty Nguyen raises 27,000, gets no customers, and flips pocket aces.

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Jason Mercier

9.44pm: Bet, re-raise, fold
Michael Watson bets 32,000 pre-flop. The action is folded to John Juanda who re-raises to 96,000 and Watson makes a quick exit.

9.37pm: The sharp end
Jetten and Juanda are now neck and neck. Chip counts can be found HERE.

9.36pm: Watson's raise is enough
Michael Watson raises to 32,000, Jason Mercier calls from the small blind, John Juanda does the same form the big. The flop comes 5d-7s-Qh. Mercier and Juanda check before Watson puts together a raise of 64,000 and adds it to the pot. Mercier and Juanda muck.

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PokerStars player Michael Watson

9.31pm: Asking the question
Scotty Nguyen raised from small blind and Jason Mercier then re-raised from big blind putting Nguyen all in, forcing him to fold.

9.28pm: Isaac Haxton talks to the video blog team

Watch High Roller 08: Isaac Haxton on

9.22pm: The all-in defence
Juanda makes it 36,000 pre-flop which is called by Jetten for a flop of 3s-Ts-7c. Juanda bets again, 54,000 in total before Jetten raises all-in making it 235,000 for Juanda to call. He’s having none of it though and mucks his hand.

9.16pm: Two powerless kings
Scotty Nguyen bets 42,000 pre-flop. When the action gets to John Juanda he asks how much the raise is and then how much Nguyen has behind. Regardless he folds his hand, much to the disappointment of Nguyen who shows pocket kings to the crowd.

9.09pm: Scotty pushes in, Jetten does the same
Scotty Nguyen moves all-in, “Seventy-five, baby!” Jetten double checks the 75 and announces himself all-in. Nguyen shows Kd-Qc whilst Jetten tables pocket fives. The board brings little on the flop to cause a stir but the king on the turn proves good for Nguyen who doubles up.

9.03pm: Mercier all-in
Jason Mercier check raises John Juanda all-in on a flop of 9h-3d-Tc. Juanda bets 40,000 after Mercier checks the board but is then asked to find about another 300,000 and lets it go.

October 6, 2008 2:59 PM

Final table update 3 - £1 Million Showdown

The final table of the £1 Million Showdown event at EPT London is underway. Blinds are 5,000-10,000 with a 1,000 ante. Full details of the payout structure can be found here and you can follow all the action on EPT Live.

Click REFRESH to see the lastest up-to-the-minute updates

9pm: Blinds up
The blinds have increased and now stand at 6,000-12,000 with a running ante of 1,000.

8.55pm: Jetten and Watson go to war
Michael Watson raises again from the button and he ends up getting involved with Peter Jetten. There's betting and calling all the way on a flop of Kh-8c-Ad, then a turn of 4d, then a river of 5h. Jettson bets 65,000 on the end, Watson thinks for about five minutes then folds.

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Peter Jetten

8.44pm: Watson takes a decent chunk out of Juanda
John Juanda raises pre-flop to 28,000 and Michael Watson flat calls on the button. They see a flop of As-2s-10h and Juanda bets 42,000 after asking Watson for a count. Watson calls. The turn is Kc and both check, then Juanda check-folds the 5d river after Watson bets 80,000.

8.40pm: Nguyen takes blinds
Scoty Nguyen only has one move and it's all in. He slides his short stack in and takes the blinds and antes.

8.38pm: Jetten pinches small pot from Watson
Michael Watson and Peter Jetten see a flop of 2h-2s-8s and Watson bets 36,000. Jetten calls. The turn is 5d and they both check. THe river is 7d which they both check again and Jetten shows down 10-10 to take it down.

8.32pm: Isabelle Mercier talks to the video bloggers
The Team PokerStars Pro Isabelle Mercier was delighted to reach her first EPT final table since the Deauville event on season two. Here she talks about her high rollers experience with the video blog team:

Watch EPT London 08: High Rollers- Isabelle Mercier on

8.30pm: Scotty Nguyen doubles up through Petter Jetten
Nguyen moves all in from the button and immediately implores John Juanda and Petter Jetten to call from the blinds. Juanda doesn't oblige but Jetten does and has 7-8 off suit. Nguyen has J-J and is way ahead. The flop comes 10s-3s-6d which gives an inside straight draw. The turn is a 7d, which gives two pair possibilities. The river is the Ks to snuff them out and Nguyen doubles up.

8.22pm: Scotty moves all-in, but then doesn’t, pushing his stack to the line before stopping just short, much to the merriment of a few people, not least Nguyen.

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Scotty Nguyen

8.20pm: Isaac Haxton, USA, eliminated in sixth place, earning £103,000
Isaac Haxton puts in a standard raise and John Juanda reraises. Haxton has a long, long think but eventually shoves all in and Juanda insta-calls. No wonder: it's aces for JJ and Haxton is dominated with 8-8. They're even the same suits. There's an ace on the flop and the miracle running eights do not appear. Haxton is out in sixth.

8pm: Play resumes on the final table with six players remaining.

October 6, 2008 12:36 PM

Final table update 2 - £1 Million Showdown

The final table of the £1 Million Showdown event at EPT London is underway. Blinds are 4,000-8,000 with a 1,000 ante. Full details of the payout structure can be found here and you can follow all the action on EPT Live.

6.45pm: That's the dinner break and we'll be back in an hour. The chip counts are:

John Juanda, USA, 435,000
Michael Watson, Canada, 348,000
Peter Jetten, Canada, 318,000
Jason Mercier, USA, 304,000
Isaac Haxton, USA, 241,000
Scotty Nguyen, USA, 75,000

6.42pm: Masaaki Kagawa, Japan, eliminated in seventh place for £86,000
Kagawa opens from early position and Watson moves another 72,000 in. Kagawa is essentially playing for his stack but reraises all in. Watson has to call and has A-K versus the Japanese's A-Q. The miracle flush or queen does not come and he is out. Watson has knocked out each of the three players to go so far, leaving a table entirely comprised of north Americans. Watson is up to 349,000.

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Masaaki Kagawa

6.40pm: Michael Watson puts his newly-acquired chips to work, making it 20,000 pre-flop to pick up blinds and antes.

6.34pm: David Benyamine, France, eliminated in eighth place, earning £59,000

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David Benyamine

6.32pm Michael Watson moves his short stack in pre-flop, attacking the other short stack in front of David Benyamine. Watson has found aces, Benyamine has K-J and calls. Benyamine picks up a double belly buster on the turn but it doesn't come - and, in fact, Watson has Benyamine covered so the Frenchman is out.

6.28pm: Kagawa moves all in and Michael Watson calls. The Japanese has Q-9 but the Canadian has 9-9. The flop favours the all in player, though, as it comes with a queen on it, leaving only the case nine to bail out Watson. It doesn't come, Kagawa doubles up and Watson is now short.

6.25pm: David Benyamine moves all in for a total of 50,000. It's folded to John Juanda who announces that he has 10 high but thinks he might have to call. "No, I can't call."

6.23pm: Michale Watson pinches Masaaki Kagawa's big blind with a cheeky raise from the small blind. The Japanes isn't keen to mix it up and away the blind go.

6.20pm: The Japanese player Masaaki Kagawa raises to 25,000 out of a stack of 100,000 and Isaac Haxton moves all in over the top for another 218,000. Kagawa miraculously lays it down.

6.15pm: Isaac Haxton takes down blinds and antes with a pre-flop reraise.

6.10pm: Chip counts:

John Juanda - 453,000
Peter Jetten - 348,000
Jason Mercier - 240,000
Isaac Haxton - 190,000
Michael Watson - 177,000
Scotty Nguyen - 137,000
Masaaki Kagawa - 107,000
David Benyamine - 69,000

6.05pm: Jason Mercier raises to about 20,000 pre-flop and John Juanda calls. The flop is 3s-5s-4s and both players check. The river is the 8h and that's enough for Juanda to bet 30,000. Mercier calls. The river is the 7c and Juanda bets 30,000, which screams value bet. Mercier is seriously tempted but folds.

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Jason Mercier

6pm: Jason Mercier and Scotty Nguyen see a flop from the blinds and they run it all the way through, with Nguyen picking it up with third pair 10s on the end.

5.57pm:Now Masaaki Kagawa moves all in pre-flop, for 104,000. Isaac Haxton has a decision for about half his chips but eventually keeps them for another day.

5.50pm: Scotty Nguyen makes it 72,000 pre-flop, which is pretty much all in for the multiple World Series winner. It's good enough to take the blinds and prompt a typical Scotty Nguyen monologue that may or may not make a lot of sense.

5.45pm: First hand back and David Benyamine again makes up the blind only to see Scotty Nguyen push. "I can't believe I didn't push my hand," said Benyamine. "You push, I call baby," said Scotty. Neither is lying, Benyamine shows K-10s and Nguyen shows A-K off.

Peter Jetten - 380,000
John Juanda - 377,000
Jason Mercier - 203,000
Isaac Haxton - 194,000
Scotty Nguyen - 186,000
Michael Watson - 181,000
Masaaki Kagawa - 123,000
David Benyamine - 77,000

October 6, 2008 12:00 PM

EPT £1 Million Showdown player profiles

Seat 1: Peter Jetten, 23, Toronto, Canada – 347,000 chips
Only minutes before the bubble, a stunning hand against John Juanda turned Peter’s fortunes around in the EPT London £1 Million Showdown. He got dealt aces in the small blind, was raised by Scotty Nguyen, re-raised by Juanda and moved all-in. Nguyen folded but Juanda had Q-Q and called the bet to double up the young Canadian pro.
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Known as “Apathy” online, Jetten – a former camp counsellor and bartender - has been playing full time for around three years and is a coach at the training site. $10/$20 NL and $25/$50 NL cash games are Jetten's bread and butter, but also frequents higher stakes in both NLHE and PLO.

Seat 2: Michael Watson, 24, Canada - 104,000 chips
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Known around the vibrant online poker community as “SirWatts”, Michael Watson has had a formidable rise to the top of the game. He cashed five times at the World Series of 2007, and was then the captain of the Canada team in the PokerStars World Cup of Poker in Barcelona (where one of his charges was the Team PokerStars Pro Daniel Negreanu). Then he translated excellent online form to a huge scoop at the Bellagio Cup around about World Series 2008 time. He was among the chip leaders in the Main Event at the Rio but busted before the money, freeing SirWatts to joust to the $15,000 WPT event down the road and win the first prize of $ 1,673,770.

Seat 3: Isaac Haxton, 23, New York, USA - 293,000 chips
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A graduate of Brown University, Haxton is a Boston native who now lives in Syracuse, New York. He began playing poker at home games during high school and then played full time online during his college vacations, earning $40,000 the first summer and $100,000 the next. His first live cash was also his biggest to date – runner-up at the 2007 PCA for $861,789. He has had eight WSOP cashes in the last two years and a total of $1,203,980 live tournament earnings.

Seat 4: Isabelle ‘No Mercy’ Mercier, Quebec, Canada – Team PokerStars Pro - 86,000 chips
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Canadian player Isabelle Mercier graduated from the University of Montreal and began practising law soon after. Keen on travel however, she moved to France and into a job at the famous Aviation Club De France in Paris, ending up as poker room manager. Isabelle’s first major success was in a WPT invitational tournament in 2004, where she took first place in the Ladies Night Out event. In 2005, she narrowly missed making the final table at the EPT1 Grand Final in Monte Carlo, taking away $31,811 for 10th place. A month later, Isabelle earned another $56,616 for a 28th place finish at the $25,000 WPT Championship event. She’s also made several cashes at the WSOP including a fifth place finish for $175,404 at the $5,000 No Limit Hold’em event in 2006.

Seat 5: David Benyamine, 36, Nevada, USA - 175,000 chips
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Originally from France, father-of-one Benyamine now lives in Henderson, Nevada and is engaged to fellow pro, Erica Shoenberg. Benyamine's first career was as a professional tennis player but he had to give up the sport because of a back injury. He was also one of France’s top ten billiards players. Benyamine is now known as one of the best high-stakes cash game players in the world and a regular in the “Big Game”, which is legendary for having some of the highest stakes in the world. Only two days ago Benyamine came 12th in the EPT London main event for £35,981. He has two WPT titles and won his first WSOP Bracelet in the $10,000 World Championship Omaha Hi/Low Split this summer, as well as two other final tables at the series.

Seat 6: Scotty Nguyen, 45, Las Vegas, USA - 68,000 chips
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Scotty Nguyen is arguably the biggest tournament player in the field having earned a total of $9.7 million in live tournaments. He has five WSOP Bracelets including those won in the 1998 main event and the $50,000 H.O.R.S.E this year. In 2006 he won a WPT title in Tunica for $969,000 becoming one of only five people to win both the main event of the World Series of Poker and a WPT title. Originally from Vietnam, Nguyen moved to the States with his family aged just 13.

Seat 7: Jason Mercier, 21, Florida, USA - 204,000 chips
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Mercier first came to people's attention at the EPT Season 4 event in San Remo last April. It was only his second live event (he’d qualified online with PokerStars) but, despite facing one of the toughest final tables in EPT history, secured a stunning victory worth €869,000. His opposition included Team PokerStars Pro Dario Minieri, William Thorson and Eric Koskas. He followed this up with three WSOP cashes in the summer, then three weeks ago he came sixth at EPT Barcelona for €227,800 . Last week he took eight place at the WSOP Europe Pot Limit Omaha event for another £26,800. Outside of poker, Mercier – who had studied to be a maths teacher before discovering online poker - is a huge basketball fan.

Seat 8: Masaaki Kagawa, 45, Japan – 142,000
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Masaaki Kagawa is a high-stakes poker player from Japan who has played at several EPTs to date. As poker is still in its early days in Japan, Kagawa plays mainly in South Korea where there is a bigger market. He is a member of the Japanese Players Union which hosts lots of freeroll poker tournaments, He cashed at EPT3 Dortmund - 32nd place for €6,950; his live earnings to date amount to $267,031.

Seat 9: John Juanda, 37, Las Vegas - 302,000 chips
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Juanda is another phenomenal tournament player at today’s final table with four WSOP Bracelets to his name including the 2008 WSOP Europe main event title which he won last week for $1.5 million. His victory came at the end of a record-breaking final table which lasted more than 19 hours. Juanda has won three “Best All Around Player” awards and, so far, his total tournament winnings amount to over $8 million.

October 6, 2008 10:24 AM

Final table update 1 - £1 Million Showdown

The final table of the £1 Million Showdown event at EPT London is underway. Blinds are 3,000-6,000 with a 1,000 ante. Full details of the payout structure can be found here and you can follow all the action on EPT Live.

5.40pm: Peter Jetten bets form the button and gets a call from Issac Haxton in the blinds. The see a flop of 5d-Ad-9h, which Isaac raises, making it 22,000 to go. Jetten called. The turn brings a jack and Haxton bets again, 60,000 this time. Jetten called. The river brought another jack which both players checked. “How’s eight-high looking?” asked Haxton optimistically. Not that good. Jetten turned over A-Q to take the pot.

5.30pm: John Juanda, fresh from victory at the WSOPE, is now chip leader here. He has spent approximately 13 minutes away from a poker table in the past seven days.

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John Juanda

5.25pm: David Benyamine makes up the big blind but Scotty Nguyen is having none of that and moves all in. Benyamine fakes to call, but lets it go. Then Michael Watson gets a walk in the big blind.

5.20pm: Peter Jetten is pushed out of one by John Juanda. The young Canadian raises it to about 30,000 pre-flop and Juanda comes over the top all in for about 277,000 more. Fold, please, says Jetten.

5.15pm: It's quietened down a little with very few flops being seen. Scotty Nguyen gets one through, showing A-K, then Isaac Haxton also picks up the blinds.

4.58pm: Isabelle Mercier, Team PokerStars Pro, Canada, eliminated in ninth place, earning £51,000 Isabelle Mercier moves all in pre-flop and Michael Watson moves in over the top. They're the two short stacks but Watson just has his fellow Canadian covered in both chips and cards. Mercier has A-J, Watson has A-K and although she picks up an inside straight draw on the turn, it misses and Mercier is out.

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Team PokerStars Pro Isabelle Mercier

4.50pm: Michael Watson has been left second shortest by Nguyen's double up. So the Canadian shoves all in pre-flop and picks up the blinds and antes.

4.47pm: It's folded around to David Benyamine in the small blind and Benyamine shoves a huge stack into the middle, putting Scotty Nguyen all in. "It's 80 percent I'm gonna call you, baby," says Scotty. "Yeah, I call." Nguyen has A-9, Benyamine has A-7 and there's no drama through all five streets and Nguyen is on 139,000, doubling up early.

4.45pm: John Juanda puts in the first raise and she makes it 19,000, betting into the big blind of Isabelle Mercier. Mercier folds.

4.40pm: And we're off again. The tournament officials have rolled the blinds back to 3,000-6,000 with a 1,000 running ante. And we're off.

4.30pm: Slightly behind time, we're now making the final preparations for final table action. It's an exceptionally north American-oriented table, with three from the United States and three from Canada. David Benyamine, from France, and Masaaki Kagawa, from Japan, will attempt to break the monopoly.

3.30pm: The final table chip counts and seat allocations are as follows:

Seat 1 - Peter Jetten - Canada - 347,000
Seat 2 - Michael Watson - Canada - 104,000
Seat 3 - Isaac Haxton - PokerStars player - USA - 293,000
Seat 4 - Isabelle Mercier - Team PokerStars Pro - Canada - 86,000
Seat 5 - David Benyamine - France - 175,000
Seat 6 - Scotty Nguyen - USA - 68,000
Seat 7 - Jason Mercier - USA - 204,000
Seat 8 - Masaaki Kagawa - Japan - 142,000
Seat 9 - John Juanda - USA - 302,000

October 6, 2008 8:21 AM

EPT London: £1 Million Showdown updates - No 7

The EPT £1 Million Showdown coverage continues here. Yesterday 86 players started, each paying a £20,000 buy-in. Now just 14 remain. Play will resume with blinds now 2,000-4,000 with a running ante of 400. We'll play on until we reach a final table and then pause before the action switches to the TV table. Click refresh to see the latest details.

3.20pm: Dennis Phillips bubbles the £1 Million Showdown
The Million Dollar Man won't be winning a quick million quid before his Vegas showdown. He gets his short stack all in with Qs-9s versus Isaac Haxton's As-4h and it misses everyone. We'll have full chip counts, profiles and build up here momentarily. The final table will begin in about 30 minutes.

3.10pm: On the other table, a huge pot plays out between three competitors. Scotty Nguyen raises from under the gun for 18,000. John Juanda, on the button, makes it 30,000 more and that prompts Peter Jetten to move all in from the small blind for another 106,000. Nguyen folds, Juanda thinks about it and then calls. Juanda has Q-Q but Jetten has aces. The flop is all spades, jack high, and Nguyen squeals in agony, claiming he folded jacks. As it is, they see turn and river and the aces hold and Jetten doubles up.

3.00pm: Isaac Haxton is all in with pocket threes and we see them because Davind Benyamine calls with A-10. The race is on and it's Haxton staring elimination in the face. This time, though, he's left to punch the air in celebration rather than dismay and stays very much alive.

2.55pm: Alex Roumeliotis, whose play had been dictated by the pressures of a short stack, found a hand to move in with and was called by the impressive John Juanda. Roumeliotis had pocket eights to Juanda’s A-J. When the ace hit the flop it was all over for Roumeliotis who busts out two from the money. With ten left play goes hand-for-hand.

2.45pm: John Juanda bets out pre-flop, a standard raise of 16,500 under-the gun. Christopher Jetten has none of that, moves all in and takes the blinds.

Juanda then tries a similar move against Masaaki Kagawa on a flop of Js-8h-4h. Kagawa made it 22,000 sending the action back round to Juanda. After a few beats he moved all-in, as if he was stamping out cheekiness and Kagawa backed out.

2.25pm: Team PokerStars Pro Greg Raymer and Dario Minieri are now railbirding the event. Raymer was speaking to Scotty Nguyen.

“How come I didn’t hear you before I saw you today?”

“After the last couple of pots my tongue is tied!”

2.20pm: The blinds go up as we enter level 13. They’re now 3,000/6,000 with a running ante of 500.

2.15pm: Tournament officials have announced that we will go to hand to hand at ten players. When we reach nine, after the bubble bursts, play will transfer to the feature table for a nine-handed final.

2.05pm: Ghassan Bitar moves all-in with A-5 and is called by PokerStars player Isaac Haxton with pocket sixes. The board comes 2s-Jd-Js-3h-2d eliminating the Ghanayan in 12th place.

2pm: Andrew Feldman is out 13th place finisher, moving in under the gun for 39,400 with Kc-Ts, called by John Juanda with As-Th. The board ran out 6h-Qd-Ks-4c-Ac to bust Feldman. Juanda now has 211,000.

1.50pm: Team PokerStars Pro Isabelle Mercier has her game face on, even more so than yesterday. In two pots, one after the other, she re-raised Scotty Nguyen on her right to add more than 25,000 to her stack.

1.40pm: Masaaki Kagawa doesn’t say much at the table, mainly due to the fact he speaks little English, but his actions have been louder than words. So when he plays a pot the calm just adds to the tension. So with a board of 6c-Qc-Ah-Th already dealt and the man from Japan staring at John Juanda and vice versa, it was worth hanging around.

Kagawa bet 14,000 on the turn. Juanda counted out the call from his stack, placed it to one side and then worked on assembling a raise. When it was placed across the line it amounted to a raise of 20,500 extra. Taking a minute Kagawa went to his chips and looked over at his opponent as he made the call.

The river card 5h. Kagawa checked this time but there was no let up from Juanda, a bigger raise of 43,000 now. This time it was good. No noise from Kagawa, hardly a reaction either. On to the next hand.

1.30pm: Jani Sointula’s exit was hardly surprising and was probably the most likely elimination we’ll see all day. Play has slowed now as we approach the money, and of course, the final table.

1.17pm: The first faller of the day is Jani Sointula. Hardly surprising as he had a little more than a big blind remaining. He shoved with A-3 from the cut off and was called by Andre Feldman in the big blind holding A-5. He hit his five on the flop and we're down to 13 players.

1.15pm: All the players are in their seats and play resumes in level 12.

October 6, 2008 8:18 AM

EPT London: The Showdown continues...

If you were up late last night in London, kept the computer on during Sunday night football or the Championship game back in the States, or just logged in this morning to check out the latest news, you’ll know that the biggest buy-in tournament on the EPT, the EPT £1 Million Showdown, creaked towards a final table last night at the Victoria Casino in London.

Watch EPT London 08: £1,000,000 Show Down on

As Michael Martin had bestowed upon him all the honours of becoming the EPT London champion, before being ushered towards a bar for some light refreshments to celebrate; three tables were slogging away a few feet along, 21 players. Now that figure stands at just 14.

What’s all the fuss? This is the first event of its kind, at least for the European Poker Tour, a £20,000 buy-in ($35,000) deep stack marathon. Then there’s the money – a first prize of more than £500,000.

The plan was to play down to a final table in just one day, like one of those extreme sports found on three figure TV channels late at night, and they nearly made it. But despite the protests of some players, famous for having little use for a 24 hour clock, officials drew the line at 14, calling time at 2.30am.

That’s good for us because if the standard of play is as good as yesterday you won’t want to miss a beat.

So who’s left?

For starters Team PokerStars Pro Isabelle Mercier. “No Mercy” played solid poker for 12 hours yesterday and found a little mercy for herself right when she needed it, catching a break when all-in with A-Q against A-K. The queen bailed her out, leaving her with close to 100,000 and an expression on her face that said she didn’t intend to waste it.

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Team PokerStars Pro Isabelle Mercier

David Benyamine leads going into today, a stack of 295,900 making him chip leader. Just two days ago the Frenchman finished 12th in the EPT London main event and this stands as a good way to make amends. Then there’s Jason Mercier, third in chips, who since winning the EPT San Remo seems to crop up at the top of chip count lists everywhere.

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Million Dollar Man Dennis Phillips

Others include WSOP H.O.R.S.E. champion Scotty Nguyen and recent WSOP Europe winner John Juanda, building on an incredible run of form this week. PokerStars players Michael Watson and Isaac Haxton are not far behind, and Million Dollar Man Dennis Phillips also eased his way into the last day yesterday.

It could have been even better for Team PokerStars. Daniel Negreanu busted when down to two tables and it was the same fate for Barry Greenstein.

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Team PokerStars Pro Daniel Negreanu

But you still won’t need much back ground info on the candidates for the final, all of whom have track records that glitter with credentials.

David Benyamine, France, 295,900
Alexander Roumeliotis, Sweden, 229,400
Jason Mercier, USA, 161,200
Scotty Nguyen, USA, 159,100
Masaaki Kagawa, Japan, 159,000
John Juanda, USA, 138,900
Michael Watson, Canada, PokerStars player, 118,000
Christopher Jetten, Canada, 105,100
Isabelle Mercier, Canada, Team PokerStars Pro, 99,200
Isaac Haxton, USA, PokerStars player, 83,200
Dennis Phillips, USA, Million Dollar Man, 73,200

Ghassan Bitar, Ghana, 58,700
Andrew Feldman, UK, 33,000
Jani Sointula, Finland, 6,500

We’ll have the official word on each of them when we reach the final, before that it’s all about the poker.
Right now a security guard stands over a one foot high pile of £50 notes, wearing a tunic of lapels and polished buttons, looking suspicious, under orders only to release the cash to the winner later tonight.

There’s only one way to find out who that will be. Let battle begin.

Video blogs and interviews from the 2009 PCA

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