PCA 2015: The Magnificent Seven in Super High Roller shootout
The complexion of the Super High Roller final table this afternoon says much about the make-up of these super high buy-in tournament fields. Among the seven players still involved, there is a former EPT Grand Final winner and a former Super High Roller bronze medallist, an independently wealthy businessman known primarily for his acumen at the trading tables, two of the world's foremost cash game players, plus SCOOP and WCOOP bracelet winners. Almost all are also online tournament beasts.
Leading the way, we find Sorel Mizzi (1st - 4,800,000 chips), a 28-year-old professional from Toronto, Canada, who is no stranger to the very top echelons of the game. Having made his name as zangbezan24 on PokerStars and Imper1um on Full Tilt, Mizzi has wracked up recorded online winnings of more than $3 million, but it's a figure dwarfed by his achievements in the live arena.
Mizzi's performance in the curtain-raiser of this year's PCA has taken his earnings beyond $10 million, enough for him to leapfrog Mike McDonald in the all time Canada money list. When you're looking up only at Jonathan Duhamel, who has won the World Series, and Daniel Negreanu, who is Daniel Negreanu, things are very good indeed.
Despite the superlative record, however, Mizzi's trophy cabinet is relatively bare. The four biggest cashes of his live career have all been for second or third placed finishes, in Macau, Monaco and Melbourne. The dominant chip lead this afternoon offers his best chance yet of earning silverware to go with a $1.87 million first prize.
Roger Sippl's (2nd; 3,255,000 chips) appearance at the final table of this event will likely come a pretty big shock to long-time observers of the tournament game, particularly those focused in Europe. Sippl is playing his first ever Super High Roller event on the EPT/PCA circuit and doesn't quite fit the mould of the most successful players in these tournaments.
The thing is, he probably should. Sippl is the only member of the final septet who has a profile on both the Hendon Mob database and on Forbes. In the former, he has recorded tournament winnings of more than $1.8 million; on the latter he is listed as founder, CTO and Executive Chairman of Elastic Intelligence, Inc. (a cloud computing company) as well as the Managing Member and Partner of Sippl Investments, LLC, a venture capital firm.
The likes of Talal Shakerchi, Dan Shak, Cary Katz, David Einhorn and Paul Newey have become familiar faces at the Super High Roller events on both sides of the Atlantic, and Sippl seems to be a match for all of them. According to sources based in Las Vegas, Sippl is a much-feared presence in the big games at Bellagio and Aria, where his financial muscle can throw even the top pros off their game.
Steve O'Dwyer (3rd; 2,925,000 chips), who is third in chips at the start of the final day, remains one of the most consistent performers in major live tournaments, with 11 six-figure cashes in a little more than five years. O'Dwyer is best known for prevailing from the single most remarkable final table in open tournament history -- the EPT Grand Final in 2013, at which he beat Jason Mercier, Jake Cody, Johnny Lodden, Noah Schwartz, Andrew Pantling, Grant Levy and Negreanu -- but outdid even that $1.6 million payday three months ago in Macau when he won the Super High Roller event at the APPT.
Perhaps most remarkably O'Dwyer continues to go about his business with the minimum of fanfare. He is quiet and courteous at the tables, and has almost never been seen making the enormous daredevil moves that tend to draw the most attention to the players comfortable at this level. It is, perhaps, the enduring secret of his success: he is just remorselessly, silently, very good at this game.
Ever since the advent of the online game, some of the top players in the world have become better known by their online monikers: the likes of durrrr, LuckyChewy, Timex, ElkY, et al. For Bryn Kenney (4th; 2,410,000 chips), aka "BrynKenney" it's not so much of a problem: like Shaun "shaundeeb" Deeb, Kenney has never hidden his identity at the online tables and has become a star both online and off.
Kenney, who is based between his native United States and Mexico, has won two SCOOP bracelets on PokerStars and countless other of the biggest titles in the online game, including in the Super Tuesday and the Sunday 500. He came third in the inaugural Super High Roller event here in 2011, which remains his largest live tournament cash and outstripped, by a factor of four, the moment he won his first WSOP bracelet in Las Vegas in the summer, in the $1,500 10-game.
Until late last night, Kenney was the closest challenger to Mizzi's chip lead in this tournament, but lost a huge pot late on to double up Sippl and drop down to fourth. But with 40 big blinds, and heaps of tournament experience, he is still very much involved.
Christoph Vogelsang (5th; 1,540,000 chips) was almost entirely unknown when he appeared in the field at the £50,000 Super High Roller event in London in October 2013. Or, at least, we thought he was unknown. In fact, as he told PokerStars Blog in Monaco a few months later, Vogelsang was the man behind the "Tight-Man1" and "26071985" accounts on Full Tilt and PokerStars, respectively, a player originally from Germany but living in London, who had been destroying the high stakes online cash games.
Vogelsang, 29, said back then that he would likely appear more when the stakes were highest in the live arena, and duly appeared at the final table of the Big One for One Drop in Las Vegas in the summer, where third place was worth $4.48 million. His three live tournament cashes have amassed more than $5 million, and here he is again.
During the late stages of play yesterday, after the bubble had burst, Mizzi and Scott Seiver were among the players gently teasing Vogelsang about what they were claiming was a "live HUD" -- a mind so focused on poker that it can instantaneously calculate odds and percentages, and adjust them on the fly, in every circumstance.
Vogelsang certainly represents a new breed of player, far removed from the heavy-drinking, scurrilous rounders of yesteryear. He is mathematical, clean-living and fearless. Oh, and German, which helps a great deal in Super High Roller events.
Time was when Andrew Robl (6th, 1,370,000 chips) was another of those players better known by their online moniker than their real name. As "Good2cu", Robl was a member of the "Ship it Holla Ballas" poker crew, who won dizzying sums during the most prosperous salad days of the poker boom. He was one of the most feared cash game players, online and off, bolstering his bankroll in the occasional live tournament, where his recorded earnings are slightly more than $3.5 million.
Robl has not been seen so regularly of late -- rumour has it, he has made Macau his stomping ground -- but has comfortably slipped back into the Super High Roller grind and has navigated his way to a first final table at the PCA or EPT.
Sam Greenwood (7th, 705,000) was the runaway leader at the end of Day 1 of this event. Indeed, his 1,073,000 chips at that stage is more than he has now. Nevertheless Greenwood, who is one part of a poker-playing trio of brothers, is enjoying a breakout live tournament performance in this event, having worked his way through the ranks throughout the past few seasons of the EPT.
Often travelling with at least one of his brothers (and sometimes their parents), Greenwood, who is 26, played his first Super High Roller tournament in Prague last month, and is now at the final table on his second try. Playing online as "Str8$$$Homey", Greenwood has a WCOOP bracelet to his name, as does brother Max.
He has already secured his biggest live tournament cash making the final table here.
Full details of how they line up today:
Seat 1: Roger Sippl, United States -- 3,255,000 (54 big blinds)
Seat 2: Bryn Kenney, United States -- 2,410,000 (40 big blinds)
Seat 3: Andrew Robl, United States -- 1,370,000 (23 big blinds)
Seat 4: Sorel Mizzi Canada -- 4,800,000 (80 big blinds)
Seat5 : Christoph Vogelsang, Germany -- 1,540,000 (26 big blinds)
Seat 6: Sam Greenwood, Canada -- 705,000 (12 big blinds)
Seat 7: Steve O'Dwyer, Ireland -- 2,925,000 (49 big blinds)