EPT9 Prague: The million dollar marker

At bagging up time last night, there was a measure of genuine intrigue among players and reporters alike as to the identity of EPT Prague's first million dollar men. Breaking into seven figures is, of course, nothing but an arbitrary marker in any tournament -- you need 25 million to win this thing, and another two days of good fortune. But it is nonetheless exciting to break into the millions, and there were a lot of candidates at the end of play yesterday.

Mark Herm, Dany Parlafes and Jeff Sarwer, for instance, all had more than 900,000, but none of them broke through the million mark. Sarwer came closest - he was only 37,000 short - and for him it would have been the second time he had had a million chips in an EPT main event.


Jeff Sarwer's chips, yesterday

His biggest live score to date remains the €156,170 he won in Vilamoura on season six, when he finished third behind Pierre Neuville and Antonio Matias. But at one point during three handed play, Sarwer had more than four million chips, which is doubly impressive as it came in the era of smaller fields and smaller starting stacks.

If he is going to better that result in Prague, he will need to finish today in seven figures - and he has gone the right way about it so far. He has kept out of any major skirmishes and is still hovering around the million mark.

Pity Sotirios Koutoupas though. Or don't pity him, depending on your way of looking at these things. Last night our colleague Rich Ryan watched Koutoupas deliberately and methodically place nine towers of blue chips (worth 100,000 apiece) and a chunk of change into his bag, then carefully write 1,049,000 on the outside, staking his claim as a million dollar man.


Sotirios Koutoupas, million!

But when the tournament staff sought to verify his counts, they didn't believe the bag could have anything like that amount in it and assumed it was a counting error on the player's part. (We've seen plenty of this before, by the way. Players often "hilariously" mis-report their own stacks.) The official list went round with Koutoupas on around half a million, and was duly reported as such on the blogs.

But the Greek player did indeed have more than a million and it was even more of a shame that he had been denied it. According to most poker databases, Koutoupas has never cashed in any rankable event before, so had almost certainly never had this many chips in his life.

He has been duly restored to the top of the counts for the opening exchanges today, though, and is now looking at booking his spot at his first final table.

As well as the overnight leader Ramzi Jelassi, Chris Brammer was the only other player with more than a million in his bag this morning. But at time of writing, he is now back in the pack, down to an average stack of around 630,000. When you have a big stack, you tend to get involved in big pots and most have gone against Brammer today.

However, all of Jorma Nuutinen, Mads Amot and Johnny Lodden have now moved into seven figures. We'll have more on Lodden later as he continues one of those typical yo-yo tournaments for which he is so renowned.


Johnny Lodden, up, down and up again

Follow hand-by-hand coverage, plus latest chip counts, in the panel at the top of the main EPT Prague page.

Howard Swains
@howardswains in European Poker Tour