EPT10 Grand Final: Conor "Earl Hindman" Shelly finally shows his face

Hauling a high-volume grinder away from a laptop is not easy, particularly when they are Supernova Elite and every minute spent not earning FPPs, VPPs and rakeback they're essentially giving away free money.

But for Conor "Earl Hindman" Shelly, the trip from his current base in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, to Monaco has been worth all the jet-lag, sleepless nights and time removed from the daily grind. He has already cashed in the FPS Main Event for a €5,000 profit, is now guaranteed the biggest MTT score of his career in the EPT Main Event, and in between watched his friend and room-mate Daniel Colman win the Super High Roller, bagging €1,539,300.

"I'm happy obviously," Shelly said. "Now I want to see how far I can go."

Shelly is sitting with an average stack among 28 left at the PokerStars and Monte-Carlo®Casino EPT Grand Final, trying to keep himself focused on the long, long days of major live tournament play. He earns his daily bread via heads up sit and go hyper turbos, which can be over in an instant and allow a working day to be punctuated by regular trips to the beach.

But the adjustment to the live MTT grind brings its compensations: the next man out gets €32,200, but the last one standing will earn €1,240,000.

"It's something I wanted to do," Shelly said of the reasons for his trip to the live arena. "I can't really win more than, like, $100K in a month online, so this is my chance for the big score. Whenever I play live I usually take almost all of myself so when I look at first prize I think, 'Yeah that could be good'. I'm not playing as high stakes as I was last year, so this is my chance to really have a big, €1.2m, score."

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Conor Shelly: Successfully battling jet-lag

Shelly's recent story is the kind that has been told by many young Americans over the past five years. Already a prolific sit and go player online while he was at college, Shelly was two months away from graduation when Black Friday changed the poker landscape in his native United States. Shelly, who is now 25, had almost all of his bankroll frozen in an online poker account and had to alter his immediate plans for a poker-playing trip to Scandinavia, instead ending up bouncing around the globe, playing poker and making friends.

"Before Black Friday, I was already planning on going and moving and travelling," Shelly said. "That's always the thing about poker, you make your money wherever. You love the game and also you can go live wherever.

"The original plan was Sweden. We had some friends who were going to go live in Sweden for the summer, after graduation, and play poker. But then it was, 'I have no money anymore and Sweden is expensive.' So I went to Malta, got staked, got a few loans and stuff...I spent time between Malta, Canada, Brazil, South Africa, and that's why I know a lot of the people. There's a huge Malta group of poker players and a lot of them are here, so I get to see them a lot when I come to Grand Finals and things like that. That's another reason I come."

Shelly earned his passage to Monaco online, playing the winner-take-all satellites on PokerStars, where he feels his heads up prowess gives him a huge edge in the endgame. He won three packages -- one mega sat and two $215 cubeds -- but admitted to slight reservations about coming, if only because he was in the middle of a heater online at the end of April and didn't want to miss out on that action.

But the heater appears to have continued here, and he is finding himself at home alongside the likes of Jack Salter and Hendrik Latz, both of whom he knows from his Malta days, and Dani Stern, who he played against all day yesterday.

His screen-name, incidentally, is a tribute to the actor Earl Hindman, who played Wilson Wilson Jr in the TV show Home Improvement and famously kept his face hidden behind a fence. "I made it because I didn't want my parents googling my screen name and learning how much I'd lost," Shelly said.

Truth is, the way things are going here in Monaco this week, there's not going to be a fence high enough to keep the real Conor Shelly concealed.

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Pictured yesterday, finally out from behind the fence

Hand-by-hand coverage of the €25,000 High Roller event is in the panel at the top of the main High Roller page. Chip counts are also in the panel; feature pieces are below. Follow the action from the Main Event on the Main Event page, and also follow along on EPTLive.

Howard Swains
@howardswains in European Poker Tour