EPT11 Grand Final: Million dollar man Igor Kurganov heads biggest field in biggest game

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Igor Kurganov: Leading the Super High Rollers

There aren't many tournaments in world poker that cost €100,000 to enter. In fact, the Super High Roller event, which now traditionally kicks off the PokerStars and Monte-Carlo®Casino EPT Grand Final, is pretty much alone with that buy-in in that currency.

But true to form for big buy-in events at PokerStars festivals, the Super High Roller here continues to grow year on year. We have just played the first eight levels of this year's renewal, and it has broken its own attendance record again.

When the klaxon sounded to halt proceedings, the tournament board showed 52 unique players and 12 re-entries, with registration open until the start of play tomorrow. It's not going to take a maths genius to figure out where that leaves the prize pool, but suffice to say the winner is going to feel at home in the richest square mile of land in the world.

The headline news from today's play is that our leader at this stage is Igor Kurganov. Pretty much every player in the line-up has the pedigree to win this thing, but Kurganov is a former High Roller champion in this room and is one of the fearsome group of German players who take on (and destroy) almost every tournament they play.

Kurganov is playing under the Russian flag this week (he has dual nationality) but the result has been the same. He is the only player with seven figures, but only just. He has an even 1 million and said, "It's the least amount of numbers I've ever written on a chip bag. I even lost a race for a 1K chip."

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"Exactly one million, Phil, exactly one million"

Among those in the chasing pack are Ole Schemion, with 930,000, and Erik Seidel, with 857,000. With the likes of Antonio Esfandiari not even yet involved (he might buy in tomorrow) it doesn't get any easier when you go down the list of players.

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Ole Schemion: Big wins on his second bullet

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Oh, yes. Daniel Colman is here to defend his title

The action today was chaotic, right from the start. Phil Ivey was jonesing for action, arrived early, but was one of the first to leave.

The enigmatic casino owner Leon Tsoukernik took the last of Ivey's (first set of) chips, before finding himself on the rail soon after. Tsoukernik went looking for Daniel Cates, played him heads up for €100,000 and earned himself a second bullet "for free". Tsoukernik ended up buying in for a third time too, as did Mike McDonald before day was done.

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Leon Tsoukernik: "Where's Jungleman?

There were a handful of newcomers to Super High Roller events, including Max Silver, who has graduated from the UKIPT to the very top of the game. He ended up busting in the final level, running into Seidel.

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Erik Seidel: Big stack

George Danzer, the World Series Player of the Year, and Team PokerStars Pro, was also involved in his first monster. He fared better than Silver, finishing with 615,000. Anthony Zinno, who is on a superb run of form, will also return tomorrow with 527,000.

The other Red Spades involved are Daniel Negreanu (273,000), Isaac Haxton (445,000) and Jason Mercier (142,000). Head to the main Super High Roller page where the full chip counts are in the panel at the top.

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Ike Haxton: Survived a tough day

We also took a peek at Max Altergott's lunch, checked in on EPT Live and Martin Kabrhel and Dan Smith. It was a busy day.

It'll be the same again tomorrow, no doubt.

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Night falls in Monaco

Howard Swains
@howardswains in European Poker Tour