EPT11 Grand Final: A belter or a bust?

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Johnny Lodden and Scott Clements: Are we on the list?

The press room of the PokerStars and Monte-Carlo®Casino EPT Grand Final is in agreement: the remaining field in the €10,000 Main Event is tough. But when we say a field is tough, what we're usually just saying is that it contains a lot of players we recognise. In poker, the best players usually become the best known.

When 89 were still in yesterday, I walked through the remaining tables and took an honest tally. How many of these guys could I have named before this tournament started? At that stage, I returned with a notepad that looked like this 卌 卌 卌 卌 卌 卌 卌 卌, representing 40 familiar faces.

Right now, we're down to the last 21 players, and 13 of them I know. The ratio of knowns to unknowns has therefore increased from 43 percent to 57 percent day-by-day, and the curve continues to steepen from the opening couple of flights.

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Jason Mercier and Mustapha Kanit: High hopes at the beginning of the day, dashed

Of course, as a rule, Monaco is the stop on the tour at which we tend to know the greatest number of players. There are fewer locals to drop in randomly, or to win a satellite in a local casino. The prices here are also prohibitive to the recreational player, so it tends to be a field broadly divided into sharks, whales and PokerStars qualifiers (who might be in either category).

So what kind of final table can we look forward to? Well, that's not in any way easy to predict, even looking at today's gallery of stars.

In 2013, of course, the sharks were at their fiercest: Steve O'Dwyer beat Andrew Pantling, Johnny Lodden, Daniel Negreanu, Jake Cody, Jason Mercier, Noah Schwartz and Grant Levy. But one year later, Antonio Buonanno bested Jack Salter, Malte Moennig, Mayu Roca, Magnus Karlsson, Sebastian von Toperczer, Kenny Hicks and Sebastian Bredthauer.

I knew every single one of the 2013 final table players before they sat down and still remembered it by heart even now. However, I could probably have recognised only two of the line-up the following year, and needed to refresh my memory before committing anything to print a moment ago.

So I give you two potential final tables for this event below. And the jury is still out on whether the Season 11 Grand Final table will be a belter or a bust.

Final table scenario 1
Ole Schemion
Johnny Lodden
Stephen Chidwick
Scott Clements
Connor Drinan
Ludovic Geilich
Adrian Mateos
Tom Hall
with Dario Sammartino, Juan Martin Pastor, Anton Astapau and Christopher Franck ready to step in.

Final table scenario 2
Lyndon Basha
Hady El Asmar
Muhyedine Fares
Dmitry Ivanov
Koichi Nozaki
Markus Ross
Joao Simao
Romain Paon

I suppose it's important to add here that just because I haven't previously seen a player, it doesn't mean they're not any good. This time two years ago, I wouldn't have known who the kid below was. Joao Simao is clearly a player on the rise; Jose Carlos Garcia keeps exceptional company; and Koichi Nozaki is playing like someone deserving a much higher place than 112th on the all time Japan money list. They all have the potential to take this result and push on to the top.

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We got to know this lad pretty quickly

Follow all the action from the €10,000 Main Event on the Main Event page. Also watch on EPT Live. The €25,000 High Roller also starts today, over on the High Roller page. It's also about time you downloaded the EPT app. There you will get all the latest news, chip counts and payouts. You can download it on Android or IOS.