There was a time in poker’s modern history, not even all that long ago, when Spanish players were the great underachievers in the world game. Even at EPT Barcelona, where the poker boom was even more incendiary than anywhere else in the world, no Spanish player could make the breakthrough and actually win a tournament.
Eventually, it was here in Monte Carlo in 2015 where Adrian Mateos broke the hoodoo. But today in Monaco, Spain stamped its authority on the game even more emphatically when Sergio Aido and Jesus Cortez went heads up for the €100,000 Super High Roller title.
Time was when you never used to hear Spanish spoken among the last five of a major tournament, but today it was the only language required as these two tried to arrange a deal for more than €2.6 million.
They couldn’t agree on the specifics — Aido’s chip-lead was so dominant it didn’t seem worthwhile — but by that point both men were already assured a payday of €1.147 million. A few hands later, Aido closed it out, winning €1.590 million, the biggest single payday of his career and enough to take him past $10 million in live earnings. He has come a long way since his breakthrough on the UKIPT.
The first two days of the tournament were the usual story of entries and re-entries building a multi-million euro prize-pool, then a rush to the door as matters went awry, leaving only a handful in search of the big bucks.
In all, there were 52 entries including 18 re-entries, and that left prizes for the top seven. (The full pool hit more than €5 million.) But when Day 2 wrapped late last night, nine players were still involved. That’s how come we still had the bubble to burst today.
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Luc Greenwood at least didn’t waste much time. He was out on the first hand of the day, losing with a dominated ace. But it was crueller for Koray Aldemir, who went out on the stone bubble, losing a flip to Daniel Dvoress.
As is customary at this level, no one allowed any emotion to cross their ice-cold visage, but the dealer left it until the last moment to put Dvoress’s ace on the river, giving him the pot with his A♥K♦ and beating Aldemir’s 9♥9♦. We captured all this restrained indifference in full.
That ace cost Aldemir at least €264,860 and left all those remaining with at least that to look forward to. Aido was already likely happiest of them all, having not only successfully laddered into the money having started with relative pittance, but having doubled at least three times to now have a workable stack.
Indeed, he had Day 1 chip-leader Wiktor Malinowski covered in the first post-bubble all-in showdown, and Aido’s A♠K♥ remained best against Malinowski’s A♥8♠. Malinowski, an online cash-game specialist and professional handball player was making his debut on the Super High Roller scene. Making it to the cash represents a fine result in any circumstances, and no doubt he will return.
Charlie Carrel became the next man out, leaving in sixth place, earning €327,930, and once again falling foul of Aido. Carrel open-pushed his small blind with 9♣5♣ and Aido picked him off with A♠2♣. Carrel has made two final tables from his two events so far, so he is putting together a profitable week. But he couldn’t get past Aido either.
Cortes had taken something of a back seat as his countryman did all the damage, but then inflicted a mortal blow on Mikita Badziakouski as he double up. Cortes’s A♥Q♥ beat Badziakouski’s K♥Q♠, leaving Badziakouski with one blind. And then he was out on the next hand when Cortes again had ace-queen and Badziakouski could manage only six high. Badziakouski took €428,830.
Dvoress, the overnight chip leader, was next to hit the rail. His A♦9♥ lost to Aido’s K♠K♥. Aido flopped quads for good measure, and Dvoress left with €554,950. He is still hunting his first major title, but is, as ever, playing some of the best poker in the world at the moment.
The three-handed battle was intriguing. The two Spaniards flanked Sam Greenwood, this tournament’s defending champion. No one has ever successfully defended a Super High Roller title on the EPT, but Greenwood was, in theory, now in with an excellent chance.
However, the Spanish quickly completed a perfect pincer movement on Greenwood, with Aido flopping two pair with K♠3♣ to win a massive pot, and then finding pocket kings again to beat Greenwood’s A♥10♠. Greenwood’s €731,530 gets his week off to a decent start too.
After the briefest of discussions in the attempt to secure a deal, Aido quickly brushed off the proposed arrangement. Cortes didn’t push it, and they quickly sat down again to play for the title. Aido had something like a five-to-one lead and Cortes had no choice but to push at every opportunity. He got it through a couple of times, but then slammed 9♠2♦ into Aido’s K♣Q♥ and that was the end of that.
“It feels very nice,” Aido said–as he then hopped immediately into the €25,000 single-day high roller. No rest.
EPT Monte Carlo Super High Roller
Entries: 52 (inc. 18 re-entries)
1 – Sergio Aido, Spain, €1,589,190
2 – Jesus Cortes, Spain, €1,147,750
3 – Sam Greenwood, Canada, €731,530
4 – Daniel Dvoress, Canada, €554,950
5 – Mikita Badziakouski, Belarus, €428,830
6 – Charlie Carrel, UK, €327,930
7 – Wiktor Malinowski, Poland, €264,860