EPT11 Barcelona: A changing of the guard in the Super High Roller
Whenever these Super High Roller events come in for criticism, it usually takes the following line: "All it is is just the same bunch of rich men swapping money between them."
It's true that Super High Roller events tend to draw from a smaller player pool than a regular tournament. That kind of goes with the territory. But perhaps the most remarkable thing about the event in Barcelona this week is the number of new faces in the field.
There were 58 players in this tournament and 19 re-entries, and if our records are correct, 22 of them have never before played in a Super High Roller tournament on the EPT.
A few of them will have played for this kind of buy in, or larger, elsewhere -- the One Drop, Aussie Millions and such like -- and a number have likely had sufficient bankroll for many years, thanks to their performances in other tournaments. But as far as we can make out, there's a long list of Super High Roller virgins popping their cherry in Barcelona.
This list, to be precise:
Andrew Pantling, Connor Drinan, Dong Kim, Doug Polk (see video interview below), Fedor Holz, Ismail Erkenov, Ivan Soshnikov, Jake Schindler, Jason Les, Jason Mo, Jorryt van Hoof, Lukas Berglund, Mikael Thuritz, Morten Klein, Mustapha Kanit, Nick Wong, Oleksii Khoroshenin, Ryan Fee, Saar Wilf, Stephen Chidwick, Sven Reichardt, Thomas Muhlocker.
It's easy to determine why a couple of those players have decided to get involved this week: Jorryt van Hoof is on his furlough before the World Series final table, and Oleksii Khoroshenin is now wielding a much boosted bankroll after victory in Vienna towards the end of last season.
Furthermore, Fedor Holz, Lukas Berglund, Andrew Pantling and Sven Reichardt all won a live satellite here and are in this on the cheap.
However, the likes of Ivan Soshnikov and Ismail Erkenov, who have both had good results in "regular" High Roller events, seem simply to be continuing their move up the ranks, while Ryan Fee, as we discovered earlier, is on the EPT for the first time.
It's heartening to see so many new players in the week's biggest buy in tournament, not least because their tables are still neighbouring the biggest event in terms of numbers. The Estrellas Poker Tour and similar regional events offer a first sampling of the live game to recreational players, or those starting their careers. The aspirational among them can peer over their shoulders and see where they might want to end up.
Of course, the fact that there are all these new players here this week means that some regular faces are absent. There's been no sign, for instance, of ElkY, Eugene Katchalov, Philipp Gruissem, Tom Marchese, Steve Silverman, Steve O'Dwyer, Mike Watson, Ike Haxton and Faraz Jaka, etc.
All of them will likely be back at some point -- and many are already in Barcelona ahead of the Main Event and "regular" High Roller. But they have sat out this one. Indeed, if everybody who has ever played a Super High Roller event decided to sit down again, we'd have more than 180 players.
One day. One day.
Here's Doug Polk, who is among the clutch of first-timers in a Super High Roller:
Day 2 of the €50,000 Super High Roller is under way. Head to the main Super High Roller page for full coverage from the tournament floor.