EPT11 Barcelona: Super High Roller reaches its climax
The EPT Main Event is still 24 hours away, but our first flagship final table has already begun in Catalonia. On the TV stage in the function suite of Casino Barcelona, nine Super High Rollers have already taken their seats to begin the hunt for €1,016,700.
Late last night, the simultaneous eliminations of Ryan Fee and Jake Schindler from this event brought this field down to a final nine. Those remaining players recently gathered in a dark corner of the television set, chattering happily, before being introduced one-by-one to the assembled crowd and making their awkward way to the table.
The first man on to the stage was the one we know least about: Sven Reichardt (3,225,000 chips), from Germany, is one of more than 20 first-timers in a Super High Roller event, but he has taken to this like a duck to water.
He burst the bubble last night when he eliminated Tony Gregg, but it was actually just another small step forwards in what has been a long and steady accumulation of chips. There are plenty of people on the rail who seem to know all about Reichardt, even though we perhaps don't, and his was the biggest roar of all.
Next up: Daniel Colman (1,420,000), the Super High Roller sensation from the United States. Colman, who had made his name online, was a relative newbie to the live tournament scene when he won the €100,000 Super High Roller event at the EPT Grand Final in May. Since then, he has gone to Las Vegas and won the One Drop, then came third in a $100,000 Super High Roller at the Aria.
It means that Colman has already amassed live tournament winnings of close to $19m, which puts him fourth on the all time USA money list. Already.
Mustapha Kanit (690,000), who rose through the ranks of the Italian Poker Tour, was chip leader of this tournament for quite a while yesterday, but suffered a turbulent time around the bubble and comes to the table with the short stack.
Kanit, however, has the chance to take over the top of the Italian money list should he mount a comeback to take this one down. He has won plenty online and has the second-biggest cheering section, the Italians enjoying a return to the top table.
Scott Seiver (1,310,000) also has the chance this afternoon to set a new mark: he has already won one Super High Roller title on the EPT, at the PCA in 2013, and could be the first player to win two. His superlative record in these events means Seiver has walked on to more television sets than almost anybody in today's field, but he still doesn't seem to much relish the prospect of those ten steps.
He allowed the warm applause to sweep him to seat four, focused on the game.
Next up, the third of four Americans at this final table: Olivier Busquet (2,045,000), who always brings a brilliant serenity to the poker tables with him. It all got a bit rowdy last night on the secondary feature table, with Morten Klein enjoying the late stages of a long session entertaining the bar-staff. Busquet was sitting next to the Norwegian, but did exceptionally well to combine good humour with good sense, and also to focus on his game.
Busquet clipped Colman around the back of the head as he strolled to his seat. He will be a good bet to take down a maiden major title on the EPT, having finished runner up at EPT Campione in Season 8.
Next up, the aforementioned Morten Klein (3,740,000). According to all the Scandinavian journalists in the press room this week, Klein is one of the best known men on the Norwegian gambling scene, having previously owned a sports betting site. He is now returning to his first love -- poker -- and enjoyed a sensational rise from the bottom of the counts to the top yesterday.
There are some bags beneath his eyes this morning, but no other sign of a hangover. He has the biggest stack and can now prove that he can play as well as he can hold his booze.
For the past two days, Sam Trickett (760,000) has looked as though he has just strolled in from the beach. He has a black T-shirt, red beach shorts and flip flops and has been smiling all week. Trickett, top of the England money list, is also no stranger to these kinds of events, having finished runner up to Antonio Esfandiari in the inaugural One Drop.
Strangely, his highest finish on the EPT is fourth in a Main Event in Vilamoura in 2010. He has the chance here today to make his mark on his home tour.
Dan Shak (2,690,000) is at his fourth EPT Super High Roller final table, and organisers are contemplating just putting a chair with his name on it there from the start. He has finished eighth on one occasion and second twice before, and if you keep knocking...
Shak, who has had an on-off relationship with the idea of re-entry tournaments, is now clearly happy to have decided to come back to the fray. He is on his second bullet, but seems certain to again make a huge return on investment.
Like Shak, Vladimir Troyanovskiy (3,370,000) is also a regular feature at the highest buy in final tables. Troyanovskiy finished seventh at the Super High Roller at the PCA in 2013, the same year he finished second in the "regular" High Roller event.
Despite numerous final table finishes, Troyanovskiy is also still searching for his first major tournament success. It's going to happen one day, surely.
Here's what they are playing for:
1 - €1,016,700
2 - €722,800
3 - €473,200
4 - €364,200
5 - €288,400
6 - €225,500
7 - €177,500
8 - €138,600
9 - €105,455
You can also catch up with all of yesterday's action: