EPT10 London: Jeff Rossiter, the secret millionaire
The EPT London Day 1B field is full to bursting with superstars. There are former champions at every table, World Series bracelets covering entire forearms and wallets that require wheelbarrows to carry around the room.
Yet if you asked almost anyone -- be it players, commentators or spectators -- to name the person in today's field who has earned the most from live tournament poker in 2013, you would end up with a lot of very wrong guesses.
Dimitar Danchev? Nope. The PCA champion is 20th on the 2013 money list. Steve O'Dwyer? Incorrect. An EPT Grand Final crown only gets you to 11th. Not even Martin Finger, who won the Super High Roller here yesterday, troubles the top ten, and neither does Vanessa Selbst.
No. The player in this room who has earned the most from tournament poker this year is the young man wearing a lime green T-shirt and fiddling with an iPhone on table 24. You know, this guy:
You do recognise him, right?
That is Jeff Rossiter, a 23-year-old Australian whose tournament earnings this year currently weigh in at $3,311,026, third behind Tony Gregg and Niklas Heineker. Rossiter didn't cash in the World Series. (He didn't play.) He hasn't made an EPT final table, let alone won a title. But what Rossiter did, along with a handful of incredibly smart German and American players, was head to PokerStars Live card-room in Macau in June and play the GuangDong Asia Millions tournament. Finishing second in that event, from a field of only 71 players, was good for more than $3m.
"I've been playing cash for a bit in Macau and it (the GuangDong Millions) just came up and I decided to play, and I had a pretty decent chunk of myself," Rossiter said.
The buy in for the GuangDong event was one million Hong Kong dollars, which equates to about US $110,000. After a flurry of re-buys, owing to some sensational outdraws and a precipitous blind structure, the prize pool weighed in at more than $15m. Heineker, the German online cash-game wizard, was the only player Rossiter couldn't beat ("I guess Nik's not here?" Rossiter said when told he was the biggest winner in this room), and those two were the last players clinging to the wreckage of one of the most bizarre final tables you'll ever see.
The average stack at the start of the final was about 18 big blinds and ICM calculations were ridiculously tough. Players were tank-folding pocket pairs with three big blinds left, and it took the sharpest poker brains to navigate the choppy waters, where there was no such thing as a standard decision.
"It's a big difference playing your ten BB stack in the middle of a random tournament and having million dollar pay jumps," Rossiter said. "It was a really, really quick tournament, not just because of the structure. Because of the pay, how big the event is, people play slower as well. It just results in being really, really short stacked at the end."
For just about any 23-year-old outside of either poker or professional sport, making any kind of decision for a million dollars would be a terrifying prospect. But playing the enormous cash games in Macau has ensured Rossiter is far from any other 23 year old. He originally went to Asia in November 2011 and gradually developed an appetite for the nosebleed action, which has kept him coming back.
"Because of visas, you can only be there for two months at a time and then you have to leave for a month so I've been coming and playing EPTs, and it's working pretty well," Rossiter said. "I hardly go back (to Australia) except for tournaments. I played the Aussie Millions and the WSOP that was in April. And I was there in July. But I won't be back until maybe January. I love Australia and I would definitely be there if there was big live cash running in Australia. But as it is I'm in Macau."
The big cash games, Rossiter's bread and butter, have grown to be regarded as secretive, mythical events, hidden from public view. But in fact the card-room at the Wynn that hosts most of these match-ups is entirely open to rail-birds, who peer over at the mostly silent exchange of millions. It seems to suit Rossiter, who appears admirably unconcerned about his profile.
"I would say that a lot of the community knows me, a lot of the regs and other 'known' players, but not many of the recreational players would know me," Rossiter said. "It's just what it is."
Three million dollars can buy an awful lot of self-assurance.