EPT9 London High Roller: Talal Shakerchi trades high finance for high rolling, wins

Talal Shakerchi is very accustomed to moving money around. A lot of money. By day, Shakerchi is a high rolling hedge fund manager, a superstar in the world of high finance. But by night, and in particular over the past couple of years, Shakerchi has been doubling as a high rolling poker player of exponentially increasing ability.

Today at the European Poker Tour festival at the Victoria Casino, London, Shakerchi won the third tournament of his career, and by some measure the largest. He beat 112 players to a first prize of £436,330 for taking down the £10,000 High Roller event. It took him three days to earn what he can probably expect to gross in the time it normally takes to tie his shoelace, but this seems to have meant a good deal more to him.

"It feels great," Shakerchi said, in between texting and calling friends and family, and beaming from ear to ear. "This kind of tournament has a high proportion of good players and I like playing against good players. That's what makes it good fun."


Talal Shakerchi, EPT9 London High Roller champion

This was actually Shakerchi's second high roller success, after he took down another six-handed, £10,000 High Roller tournament in Monte Carlo. "Two is probably enough for anyone," he said. "But I'm definitely going to play more. I don't have a lot of time; I have a very busy job. But this one suited me perfectly because it was at the weekend and in London, which is home."

For a "weekend" player, Shakerchi is pretty darned good. Scott Seiver, one of the first players to congratulate Shakerchi on his success, said that this "amateur" certainly has his respect. "He's a strong player," Seiver said. "He has a keen mathematical sense. He has played for a long time and has played all over the world."

Seiver also made sure he struck a deal with Shakerchi.

"You have to let me win the next one," Seiver said.
"That's OK," Shakerchi replied. "Can I come second?"


The High Rollers assemble around the final table

Seiver had been eliminated from the London tournament a long time ago, picking up what passes for a min-cash in this event but well before the final table, which reconvened today. They had played long into the night last night and came back at 1pm today with nine--an unofficial final--but quickly lost Dimitar Danchev to take them down to the real final table of eight.

Then they started trickling away. Gautam Sabharwal, another player better known for his exploits in the business world, accounted for Eric Sfez in eighth. It was aces versus a flush draw that missed. JC Alvarado couldn't get kings to beat the eights of Fabian Quoss after Quoss flopped a set. Alvarado was out in seventh.


JC Alvarado: another big score

After that, it was the time for Vicky Coren's good/difficult/good week to come to an end on a high. She had cashed in the UKIPT High Roller, had then endured a harrowing bust out from the Main Event, close to the money, but had regrouped to get through to the deep stages of the other High Roller.

Yesterday she had cracked kings with jacks to remain alive, but today she couldn't get fives to hold up against Quoss's ace-jack. Coren took £67,130 and walked away with head held high.


Victoria Coren: Ends on a £67,000 high

Paul Volpe had recently been elevated to the top of the rolling world poker rankings after making back-to-back WPT final tables, finishing second and third. He was back in familiar surroundings this afternoon, but this time he would come up in fourth. Shakerchi claimed his first scalp of the day with what is commonly known as a bigger ace.


Paul Volpe, left, consults with reporter Rich Ryan

Shakerchi had the dominant stack three handed and it seemed only a matter of time until he polished off his two adversaries. As it turned out, he barely needed more than half an hour, hitting a flush to bust Quoss's pair of aces and then finding queens against Faraz Jaka's ace-queen heads up.

"It was a cooler," Shakerchi said as he shook Jaka's hand. Jaka agreed, downbeat but not too disappointed with his £241,670.


Heads up between Faraz Jaka and Talal Shakerchi


It was as close as Faraz Jaka would come to the trophy

Shakerchi began posing for his photos, clutching his trophy and Shamballa bracelet, given to the winner to bolster the first prize. Texts and calls continued to rain in, evidently for the first time no longer just about billion dollar financial hedges or massive company buy outs.

This was much more fun than all that.


Talal Shakerchi: chip gatherer

EPT9 London - High Roller
Date: 14-16 March 2013
Buy-in: £10,000
Game: NLHE
Players: 112 (25 re-entries)
Prize pool: £1,342,600

1 - Talal Shakerchi, UK, £436,330
2 - Faraz Jaka, USA, £241,670
3 - Fabian Quoss, Germany, £147,690
4 - Paul Volpe, USA, £107,410
5 - Gautam Sabharwal, India, £87,270
6 - Vicky Coren, UK, Team PokerStars Pro, £67,130
7 - JC Alvarado, Mexico, £53,700
8 - Eric Sfez, France, £40,280
9 - Dimitar Danchev, Bulgaria, £29,540
10 - Johan van Til, Netherlands, £29,540
11 - Barry Greenstein, USA, Team PokerStars Pro, £26,850
12 - Albert Daher, Lebanon, £26,850
13 - Anaras Alekberovas, Lithuania, £24,170
14 - Scott Seiver, USA, £24,170

Relive all the High Roller action from the EPT High Roller coverage page.

Howard Swains
@howardswains in High Roller