What have Martin Finger and Steve O'Dwyer got in common?
Before this week at the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure, you could have listed a few things: top poker talent, EPT champion, propensity to wear shorts when you least expect it. But as of this evening, O'Dwyer shares with Finger the distinction of having won both a Main Event and a Super High Roller event on the European Poker Tour - and they are the only two men in the world to have achieved that double.
In a little more than five hours' play at the Atlantis Resort on Paradise Island in the Bahamas today, the former EPT Grand Final champion prevailed from the final table of the PCA's biggest ever $100,000 Super High Roller. There were 50 players and 66 entries, but O'Dwyer defeated them all. He has saved his best for the very hardest events.
It is the second Super High Roller title O'Dwyer has earned in the past couple of months, having also prevailed on the APPT in Macau in November. He won $1.81 million there and another $1.87 million here, plus a Steel and Diamond SLYDE watch.
The jury has returned its verdict: Steve O'Dwyer is very good at poker.
"I'm pretty confident about what I've been doing lately, but a lot of this is luck and I ran pretty hot to win another one," O'Dwyer said. "Players are a lot tougher in these ones so it's better to get lucky I guess."
That famous victory in Monaco a few years ago came at the end of what is by common agreement the toughest final table ever assembled in an open event. Pretty much all tables in the Super High Rollers are like that, and this was no exception, even if O'Dwyer's most obdurate opponent turned out to be the one expected to put up the least resistance.
Roger Sippl is not a professional poker player -- he is a venture capitalist, software pioneer and entrepreneur - but today he was the thorn in the side of some of the best poker players in the world and very nearly caused a major upset in his debut appearance on the EPT.
As it is, Sippl will return to the boardroom -- and the high stakes tables of Las Vegas -- with a lot of new fans who watched him play on EPT Live. O'Dwyer, who saw Sippl up close, is chief among them.
"I've known about Roger for a long time, from back when I played in Vegas," O'Dwyer said. "I never ended up at a table with him. But I played against him a lot in this tournament. He played a great game. He had a big suck out near the bubble, but he played great. Congratulations to him."
At the start of play today, there was a distinct imbalance around the final table, and not only owing to the odd number of players. The seven remaining after two previous days' play were also divided into the haves and the have nots: Sorel Mizzi, who was overnight chip leader, Sippl, O'Dwyer and Bryn Kenney were comfortable with more than 40 big blinds, but it left Sam Greenwood, Andrew Robl and Christoph Vogelsang, who rounded out the table, with short stacks.
However, within a matter of two hands, both Vogelsang and Greenwood had picked up small pots, with ace-jack and aces, respectively, getting their final day off on a positive footing. But the same could not be said for Robl, who passed through the blinds without getting involved, but then pushed out a raise with Q♥J♥ under the gun and got embroiled in what would turn out to be his final hand.
Sibbl, in the small blind, called with K♣J♣ and Bryn Kenney also defended his big blind, with A♣8♣. After the flop came 3♦Q♣7♣, things were about to turn ugly. ("There could well be a car crash here," Joe Stapleton said from the EPT Live commentary booth.)
Both Sippl and Kenney checked, but Robl bet 210,000. Sippl called and Kenney called, taking them three way to the turn. It was the 5♥. Sippl checked but Kenney bet 635,000, an unorthodox lead for enough chips to force Robl to make a decision for his tournament life. Robl thought for more than two and a half minutes before moving all in. Sippl folded but Kenney paid the small amount more. Robl was poleaxed by the 6♣ on the river and was out in seventh for $313,700.
Greenwood had achieved what would have been his first target at the start of play: laddering up one spot. His micro-stack had left him with a mountain to climb to win this thing, but he had at least left base-camp thanks to Robl's demise. It wouldn't get any better, however, and not long after Robl's elimination, Greenwood found pocket sixes, and also saw action ahead of him. Mizzi opened the button and Vogelsang called in the small blind, which prompted Greenwood to move all in.
Mizzi folded, but Vogelsang had flatted with 9♣9♦, a bigger pair in what also happened to be the same two suits as Greenwood's sixes. The Canadian hit neither of his outs through flop, turn and river, so was sent packing in sixth, winning $396,920.
At the point that Greenwood was knocked out, Kenney and Mizzi were all but equal at the top of the chip counts, with Vogelsang's remarkable surge putting him in third. O'Dwyer and Sippl had assumed the short stacks. But no limit hold'em is nothing if not volatile, and Sippl began his steady surge up the counts.
Vogelsang turned chief benefactor, and there was pretty much nothing he could have done in most of the spots. He flopped a flush with Q♥[10h] on a board of 5♥4♥2♥ but lost the coup when Sippl got it all in with his A♥K♠ and spiked another heart.
The last of Vogelsang's chips also went to Sippl, when the two got involved in a straight race: Sippl's A♣Q♥ against Vogelsang's [10h][10c]. The dealer waited until the very last moment before delivering the Q♣, but it was enough to send Vogelsang out in fifth. The fourth live tournament result of Vogelsang's career was worth $512,160. In total they're worth more than $5.6 million.
Just like that, Sippl was now the leader and O'Dwyer was the short stack; Mizzi, the overnight leader, has also slipped way down the leader board. Indeed, when Kenney opened to 215,000 on one of the first hands of Level 21, Mizzi knew it was all in or fold with his 2♣2♥ and only 1.7 million behind. Mizzi shoved, Kenney called a rivered a straight. Mizzi was done in fourth, winning $695,400.
Mizzi's score moves him above Mike McDonald in the all time Canada money list, but he still has someway to go to overhaul Jonathan Duhamel and Daniel Negreanu -- and a major tournament title still eludes him on the EPT.
If few would have backed Sippl for victory when they were seven handed, his odds didn't much improve when sitting across the table from only O'Dwyer and Kenney. And it can't have helped the venture capitalist much when he found pocket queens at the same time that O'Dwyer found kings. They got it all in pre-flop and O'Dwyer doubled up in an enormous coup.
But even though Sippl was now the short stack, he picked his spots with great care and had convinced O'Dwyer at least that he had some game. When Sippl shoved for more than 2 million on a board of 2♠6♥8♠8♦9♣, O'Dwyer emerged from the tank with a hero call. He had nothing but 4♥2♥, i.e. eights and deuces, but clearly thought Sippl might be shoving with worse. O'Dwyer was wrong. Sippl had 8♣6♣ for a turned full house and he was right back level at the top of the counts.
With Sippl very much a part of the game again, Kenney and O'Dwyer went to war with one another. Kenney got his last 3 million in the middle, three-betting an open from Sippl, with K♠Q♠. O'Dwyer was waiting behind him with [10d][10c] and the pocket pair stayed good.
Kenny hit the rail in third, winning $873,880, and leaving O'Dwyer heads up with Sippl, and with a three-to-one chip lead.
Sippl, however, had been O'Dwyer's nemesis at the final table, perhaps the only player the Irishman had not managed to outwit. Sippl had made a hero call of his own against O'Dwyer, with third pair nines in the face of continued bombardment. He was right. It was therefore far from a foregone conclusion that O'Dwyer would run over the heads up play.
But there can only be one real hero in poker, and when he needed to, O'Dwyer stepped up to the plate. On a board of Q♥8♦8♣2♠3♠, Sippl shoved for close to 3 million chips. O'Dwyer had only A♥[10c] but clearly smelled a rat. He mulled his decision for close to five minutes, but then called. Sippl was forced to show his J♠[10d].
"I didn't think you'd call!" Sippl said. "Maybe I shouldn't have pushed, but I thought that had a pretty good chance of getting through...You called me with just ace high, that's pretty good."
"I don't like to fold," O'Dwyer said. There it is: O'Dwyer's secret. He doesn't like to fold.
PCA 2015 $100,000 Super High Roller
Date: January 6-8, 2015
Entries: 66 (50 unique)
Prize pool: $6,402,000
1 Steve O'Dwyer, Ireland, $1,872,580
2 Roger Sippl, United States, $1,344,420
3 Bryn Kenney, United States, $873,880
4 Sorel Mizzi, Canada, $659,400
5 Christoph Vogelsang, Germany, $512,160
6 Sam Greenwood, Canada, $396,920
7 Andrew Robl, United States, $313,700
8 Scott Seiver, United States, $243,280
9 Jake Schindler , United States, $185,660