EPT10 Grand Final: Hybrids, supers and hat-tricks: Satellite tournaments broaden their horizons

Ten thousand euros is a lot of money, whether you've driven to Monaco by Ferrari or bicycle, or have jetted in from Macau or via EasyJet. But there are countless ways for players to get into the Main Event on the cheap, including the online satellite route on PokerStars or any of the traditional live super sats.

Additionally here at the Grand Final in Monaco, the tournament team is running what they describe as a "Super Last Chance Hyper-Turbo" today, kicking off at 4pm. This tournament costs €1,000 to enter (plus a €50 fee) and has 12-minute levels and a 10,000 starting stack. It means that by about dinner time, there will be another small handful of players clutching a Main Event ticket and a stack with their name on it in the big dance.

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Plenty of ways to join the party

Registration is open in the Main Event until start of play tomorrow, Day 2, so the winners can either hop straight into the fray the minute after today's satellite concludes, or give it a few hours to adjust from the hyper turbo structure and leisurely stroll in later.

Play begins on Day 2 in Level 9, where blinds are 400-800 (100 ante). The 30,000 starting stack therefore represents 37.5 big blinds even then.

The Super Last Chance Hyper-Turbo has not been the only odd-sounding way to qualify for the Grand Final, however, as Roberto Romanello will testify. The former EPT Prague champion's glittering poker resume added another chunky score this week, in a tournament entitled the "8-Handed Grand Final Hybrid".

That tournament, hosted in Sanremo after the conclusion of the EPT last week, was a combination of satellite event and regular tournament, where some of the prize-pool went towards Grand Final seats and some was paid out in plain cash.

Andrew Chen finished seventh, for €2,700 even, and Andrew Hulme was sixth, for €3,360. But when they were down to five, all of the finishers from there on won a €10,600 EPT Grand Final seat in addition to prize money that incrementally increased. It created a double bubble -- one for the cash and then another for the seats -- and it also gave big stacks something extra to think about. Rather than just relaxing and locking up the seat, they had to think about winning the tournament too.

"It was really interesting to play a smaller bubble and then you could feel the tension on the second bubble, which was much bigger," Romanello said. (He finished second, earning €11,800 cash and his Day 1B seat in Monaco. It cost him €2,150 to enter.) "I really enjoyed it. Obviously when you've got chips, I love playing around the bubble. And you weren't just playing for a satellite, and sitting back if you had a stack. If you had a stack, you were pushing on to win the top prizes."

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Roberto Romanello: In on the cheap

With more than $2m in live tournament earnings, it may seem counter-intuitive that Romanello is playing a satellite at all. But part of the reason the top players are able to prosper for so long is that they make shrewd decisions concerning their bankroll and get themselves into tournaments for cheap.

"When it's €10,600 it's good enough for any player to win," Romanello said. "I don't care what people say, it's a lot of money. It doesn't really matter what you've won before, when there's €10,000 to be won on the table, plus a lot of other cash, it's a no-brainer.

"I've always said to keep this game alive, whether you're playing EPTs or UKIPTs, you always need to try and satellite into the next step. From then on, if you do well you can maybe spend a little bit on a tournament here or there. But I still think it's so important to play satellites. They're always going to be there for all the players."

Romanello headed off for the first break of the day, wandering into the lobby outside the Salle des Etoiles and past a man named Chris Moneymaker propped against a wall, playing with his cellphone. Satellites, huh? I wonder if Moneymaker would know anything about them.

On a similar subject...

Unique Riviera hat-trick for MacPhee and co
Several players have pulled off a unique hat trick by qualifying for three of the most prestigious events taking place at this season's final EPT stops. Kevin MacPhee, Ami Barer, Jack Salter and Zachary Korik all won seats for the €4,900 EPT Sanremo Main Event, the €1,100 France Poker Series Monaco event and the €10,600 PokerStars and Monte-Carlo®Casino EPT Grand Final Main Event.

All the hand-by-hand action from the tournament floor is available in the panel at the top of the main EPT Grand Final page. The France Poker Series final table is being streamed on EPTLive.

Howard Swains
@howardswains in European Poker Tour