EPT10 Grand Final: Sat on their park-bench like bookends

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Mike McDonald wandered into the Salles des Etoiles at a little after noon, something he has done at a similar time every day since Thursday this week. On every previous occasion, he was arriving to join the Super High Rollers in the €100,000 event, but today's excursion, for the €10,600, would cost him a mere 10 per cent of that.

McDonald burst the bubble last night in the Super High Roller, hitting the rail in ninth when eight players will be paid today. He was the shortest stack going to the pseudo final table, and got it in with pocket sixes. Dan Colman called with ace-queen and hit an ace. Standard.

McDonald had some fun with his Twitter followers around this time, first stating: "Just made my 7th consecutive super high roller final table- 9/9 and I should be a favorite to bubble but I'm way luckier than all these guys" and then retweeting abuse from some fathead, who didn't seem to get the joke.

McDonald seemed sincere, though, when he added "Busto 9th, excited for a big week of poker coming up" afterwards, and lo and behold he arrived fresh and raring to go today.

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Mike McDonald, pictured during the Super High Roller

McDonald found his chair and glanced immediately to his right, noticing a familiar face. Christoph Vogelsang, another player who played but busted the Super High Roller, was in the two seat at McDonald's table. Of all the tables in all the tournaments...etc., etc.

With such a big field -- there are about 150 players already seated, with the number still ticking upward -- the random table draw will always throw up a couple of interesting match-ups, but there seems to be even more than usual today in Monaco.

Paul Newey and Mike Watson are seated together. They both played the Super High Roller too. And Max Silver was probably delighted with his draw on a short-handed table until the seat to his immediate left was filled by Vanessa Selbst.

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Vanessa Selbst (pictured during this week's Super High Roller)

Those two know each other very well, and have barely been able to shake one another's company over the past six months or so. Both went extremely deep in the PCA Main Event in January, by which time they were already bosom buddies after their hijinks in London last October.

Back at the UKIPT/EPT festival in the Grand Connaught Rooms, Silver and Selbst went heads-up for the £2,000 UKIPT High Roller title. It was unique because they had arranged to go to the theatre together that night, but ended up standing one another up after their participation in the poker tournament lasted far longer than either had planned.

Anyway, they're back together once more in Monaco, and Selbst has position.

Stephen Chidwick and Shyam Srinivasan are also sharing a table today. Those two both went deep in Sanremo last week, and also have a long, long history online, where they are two of the dominant tournament players in the world. Speaking of which, Jake Cody and Ami Barer are also table-mates. That's the youngest Triple Crown winner versus the reigning Aussie Millions champ.

As ever, 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. Details of the Super High Roller final table is on the Super High Roller page, and it's also being streamed on EPTLive.

Howard Swains
@howardswains in European Poker Tour