EPT10 Grand Final: Lo by name, high by nature as Macau visitors dominate Super High Roller
When the words "high stakes" are uttered in the contemporary poker context, thoughts tend to turn to Macau. For the past five years or so, the biggest cash poker games in the world have been held in the Special Administrative Region off the south coast of China, which has overtaken even Las Vegas as the gambling capital of the world.
The poker action tends to be driven by an elite group of million/billionaire businessmen, who like to play and like to play big. Much of the top north American and European poker talent has been drawn to the Far East in search of the perceived riches on offer, but they don't always get it their own way.
All things considered, the skills are probably still higher among those from the established poker nations, but the Asian players can really put them to the test. They are playing with a seemingly infinite bankroll, are utterly unafraid to put their chips in any pot, and have a sense of risk and adventure that can captivate and bamboozle. When things are running well for the Asian players, things run very well indeed.
So it is that in Monaco today, at the €100,000 Super High Roller event at the PokerStars and Monte-Carlo®Casino EPT Grand Final, the Asian businessmen have blurred the lines between the sharks and the prey. A select group of the best and highest High Rollers from Macau were lured to this Principality for their first shot at EPT glory, and the old guard of Ivey, Negreanu, Gruissem, Haxton, Esfandiari, Altergott, Bonomo and Smith (among others) licked their lips.
But when play ceased tonight, with only eight players remaining from the 50 who started (there were 12 re-entries too), none of the above were still involved. Even Gus Hansen had only played a cameo. Instead, we are looking at a final table tomorrow headed by a man named Lo Shing Fung (better known as Rono Lo), and also featuring his friends Paul Phua and Richard Yong.
The Asian contingent in Monaco numbered only seven, of whom three made the money. Take that, poker old guard.
Lo was a short-ish stack for the early stages of the day, but enjoyed a spectacular surge from about half way through to tear up the leader board. He eliminated Mike Watson, Daniel Negreanu ("He had better cards than me," Negreanu explained), Peter Chan in a massive cooler (a set of tens against top two pair), then Fabian Quoss (the Super High Roller champion from the PCA).
Then when Dan Colman knocked out Mike McDonald to burst the controversial €240,000+ bubble, our final table was set. Here are the eight that will go looking for the €1,804,000 first prize tomorrow. (Full payouts are at the bottom of the page.)
Lo Shing Fung, aka Rono Lo, (Canada), 4,558,000
Ole Schemion (Germany), 2,818,000
Dan Cates (United States), 2,341,000
Paul Phua (Malaysia), 1,785,000
Daniel Colman (United States), 1,398,000
Richard Yong (Hong Kong), 1,301,000
Olivier Busquet (United States), 1,038,000
Igor Kurganov (Russia), 261,000
You'll notice that no one should take anything for granted because there are some impossibly good players still in that little group.
Ole Schemion's name had pretty much been inked on to the final table line-up from the very moment he suggested he might enter, such is his recent form. The German youngster, who is only just old enough to play poker in the United States, won the High Roller event in Sanremo last week, then made the final table of the Super Tuesday. He then won the super satellite for this event (like he needed to) and soared into the chip lead on Day 1.
He knocked out Jason Mercier and Talal Shakerchi today and will be second in chips. Schemion already has more than $4.7m in tournament winnings and has now locked up another €241,000 at least. Can anybody stop him?
Dan Cates is accustomed to seeing those kinds of sums too, albeit mostly in his online account. But Cates has brought his A-game to this tournament in the bricks and mortar world and is going to be a huge threat tomorrow.
Olivier Busquet has all the momentum from a late charge tonight; Daniel Colman has also been on the ropes but bounced back. As for Igor Kurganov, he's hardly a stranger to this kind of thing and his short stack means nothing at all.
Play begins at 1pm tomorrow, but coverage starts an hour after as the action will be screened "as live" on EPTLive, with hole cards exposed. In the meantime, flick through all today's action on the main Super High Roller page.
Full payout schedule:
1 - €1,804,000
2 - €1,305,000
3 - €842,300
4 - €637,600
5 - €493,340
6 - €385,000
7 - €307,000
8 - €241,000