EPT10 Grand Final: Well-travelled Kenny Hicks journeys to top of last 17

At around about this time last year, things were getting decidedly unusual at the EPT Season 9 Grand Final Main Event. There was a field filled with all-time greats, who did nothing but continue to build their chip stacks, gradually funnelling a concentrated pool of talent to the greatest final table ever seen.

The problem with poker is that you can never predict what's going to happen from one day to the next, much less across a 12-month interval. The equivalent day at this year's PokerStars and Monte-Carlo®Casino EPT Grand Final was a terrible day to be a superstar.

David Williams, Ville Wahlbeck, Noah Boeken, Dani Stern, Scott Clements, Vladimir Troyanovskiy, Christoph Vogelsang and David Yan all hit the rail, picking up what for them represented only a small payday. It left 17 players of varying experience and name-recognition to do battle for the lion's share of the $6.5m prize pool, and certainly nothing like last season's dazzling array.


David Williams: Don't look back in anger


David Yan: Don't dream it's over

Kenny Hicks is leading the way, with 2,499,000 chips. He is primarily an online pro from the United States, but has dipped his toes in EPT waters before and has also cashed on the APPT and LAPT. He knocked out Conor Shelly late in the day -- spiking a jack to crack Shelly's kings -- and the popular, well travelled campaigner is leading the way into the penultimate day.


Here's the full line-up for Day 5, which will start at noon in the Salle des Etoiles, at the Monte Carlo Bay Hotel and Resort:

Kenny Hicks - 2,499,000
Martins Seilis - 1,767,000
Jack Salter - 1,750,000
Antonio Buonanno - 1,623,000
Mayu Roca - 1,500,000
Sebastian von Toperczer - 1,456,000
Malte Moennig - 1,450,000
Sebastian Bredthauer - 1,065,000
Nikita Nikolaev - 1,083,000
Vasili Firsau - 1,002,000
Magnus Karlsson - 861,000
Mark Teltscher - 802,000
Ivan Soshnikov - 731,000
Nicholas Petrangelo - 540,000
Miroslav Alilovic - 500,000
Steven Silverman - 436,000
Matias Ruzzi - 402,000

The keen-eyed among you will see that the field is not entirely devoid of excitement. There's still the prospect of a second two-time champion as the British player Mark Teltscher remains in the field.


Mark Teltscher: Kicking back, Season 2 style

It is also only fitting that Vasili Firsau battled on. The Belarussian finished tenth in this tournament last season, doing the gracious thing and getting himself eliminated when he was the last "unknown" player in that stacked field. But he has returned this time, outlasted all of the snobs who ousted him last season, and now goes to the penultimate day with another chance.


Vasili Firsau: Second chance

Steven Silverman is also one of the hottest players on the planet at the moment, having won the €25,000 High Roller here last year and adding another tremendous string of results in the 12 subsequent months. Jack Salter is also enjoying a breakout year on the EPT and has consistently run deep throughout the season. He now has the stack to take him to his first final table and few spectators will be surprised to see him there.


Steven Silverman: Missing out on title defence


Jack Salter: The force is strong with this one

We also have Sebastian Bredthauer, of course, who is currently enjoying the most brilliant rags-to-riches tale of them all. The German youngster is playing his first live tournament having qualified on PokerStars for this event for the princely sum of 100FPPs. He is guaranteed €55,850 at least.


Sebastian Bredthauer: Daring to dream

In short, we are casting for a new production of the final table, and all may apply.

A few tidbits from our coverage today:

* Introducing Vladimir "shabalinvlad" Shabalin and his incredible 10 million VPP haul
* Dermot Blain beats world class field
Ville Wahlbeck is not bored!
* Conor "Earl Hindman" Shelly finally shows his face
* And you can look back on all the action with the hand-by-hand coverage on the main EPT Grand Final page.

Coverage continues of the €25,000 High Roller on the High Roller page.

Howard Swains
@howardswains in European Poker Tour