Jason Mercier crowned first Champion of Champions, ending EPT season 7
Last night the European Poker Tour made history with a continent-wide broadcast of Europe's richest poker tournament. Tonight, it did something similar with Europe's best tournament, the Champion of Champions contest uniting seven seasons worth of the tour's best players.
A short while ago Jason Mercier became this event's first ever winner, defeating PCA winner Galen Hall heads-up to earn a first prize worth €50,000 in EPT Season 8 buy-ins.
Mercier's victory serves as a brilliant end to another remarkable EPT season, one covering 13 events, across 12 different countries, creating new champions, new stories and awarding more than €50 million in prize money.
Mercier in action
It also continues another great year for Mercier, following the Team PokerStars Pro's win in the North American Poker Tour Bounty Shootout, which took his career earnings to more than $5,500,000.
His assessment of his win was simple and self-deprecatory: "I run better than most."
With the main event completed last night; Ivan Freitez basking in his new glory this morning, the CoC brought a refreshing new format to the tour; a deep-stacked high roller battle royale, filled with seven seasons worth of champions. It proved an original spectacle from the start.
The winner's trophy
Players immediately got into the end-of-term spirit of things, with prop-bets, mandatory straddles and hijinks, lending the event an almost home game feel. Speedy play ensured every minute of the 13 hours was action-packed, with hyperbolic line-ups providing exquisite confrontations, not just in the Hall v Mercier finale. In terms of high stakes poker, this was the nuts.
The feature table
It brings to a close the EPT's seventh season, closing the book on a tour that started in Tallinn and for the first time ended in the Spanish capital Madrid.
Casino Gran Madrid
The final eight was a line-up to dream of. From it, Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier went first, the peroxide-destroyer, winner of two High Roller events this week alone, busted when his king-nine was pipped by the ace-nine of Mercier.
Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier
Soon after Brandson Schaefer, he of Season 1 fame, departed in seventh, his pocket sevens rivered by Galen Hall's ace-queen. Then Season 7 Copenhagen champ Michael Tureniec went out empty-handed, Mercier sending him home with ace-jack against Tureniec's own queen-ten.
Following Sandra Naujoks, out in fifth on the money bubble, was Vicky Coren in fourth; victim, it seems, to Halls' misread, not of his cards but of Coren's stack, calling her pocket-eights all-in with king-deuce. The king hit the flop, giving Hall a fortuitous advantage, one that would despatch the Season 4 EPT London winner, who had led for much of the day, with €10,000 to spend next season. But Coren was gutted, something obvious to anyone watching her exit interview with Michelle Orpe.
Max Lykov, the almost indestructible Russian, went in third place, leaving it to Hall and Mercier to fight out for honours, a heads-up duel to be proud of and one to put the EPT Season 7 to bed.
If there was going to be a Champion of Champions, purists would rightly not accept anyone unworthy. But in Mercier's victory the poker Gods, and more importantly the millions who follow the game around the world, know that one of their best triumphed. It was a remarkable performance in a remarkable tournament after a remarkable year.
EPT Champion of Champions winner Jason Mercier
Congratulations to Mercier, who we'll now happily be seeing more of in Season 8, the start of which is just three months away.
For now though that's the lot from us. The extended version of everything that took place today can be found at the links below.
Our thanks to photographer Neil Stoddart for all the images today, working in the tournament room after a night being sequestered for the main event. Foreign bloggers? Nothing, they went home today. But they'll be back later in the summer.
That's when we'll be making reappearance, in about three months' time when we forget all this and look towards a new roster of champion and, who knows, a first double-winner.
It's been a pleasure to write updates for this, and all other events this season, and thanks to everyone who read the blog during the course of the year. Poker is a great game, this is a great tour and it's been a great finale. Without a word of exaggeration, we expect Season 8 to be even better. Long may the EPT continue.
It will. But until then, it's goodnight for the final time, from Madrid.