The €10,000 Six-Max Turbo has become an institution at the EPT Grand Final. It takes place on the final day and may as well be renamed the “Get Yourself Out Of It Open”, such is the way it is approached by many of the top pros.
It’s arguably the tournament that takes place in the highest spirits among a very select group of players: those who are committed to stay for the duration of the festival and who have the bankrolls to play what they like when they like. These guys are all good friends and this always feels like a kind of home game, with a last-day-at-school vibe (It was the same last year as well.)
This version attracted 63 players, building a prize pool of €617,400 and a first prize of €180,400. And as the bubble approached a few moments ago in the Salle des Etoiles, there were some very interested onlookers.
Among those on the sidelines for this one were Max Altergott, Igor Kurganov, Sam Trickett, Luke Schwartz, Steven Silverman and Sergio Aido, railing the likes of Viktor Blom, Adrian Mateos Diaz, Maxi Lehmanski, Thomas Muehloecker and Conor Shelly. That’s the GDP of several small countries there in one corner of the tournament room.
The most interested onlooker by some measure, however, was a certain Mike “Timex” McDonald, who seemed to be enjoying himself despite what appeared to be a bit of a grimace that he could not quite really disguise. He was peering over the shoulder of Dan Colman, the Super High Roller champion from earlier in the week, who was close to the tournament chip lead.
“Punish Timex,” Altergott said. “Timex is going to get punished.”
Various others chimed in with a variation on the theme of “breaking the bank of Timex”. Eventually Trickett explained what was going on.
“He’s cross-booked 50 per cent,” Trickett said.
“Make a good story, won’t it,” Schwartz added. Indeed.
If there’s one person in the world of poker who can afford to make the occasional side bet it is McDonald, who is, quite simply, one of the best poker players in the world and has already won more than $4m in live tournaments this calendar year. If what Trickett, Schwartz and Altergott were saying was true, however, he could be looking at an expensive end to his week in Monaco. Colman is running super hot here.
With the bubble now in sight, Shelly was the first to be put at risk when he got his last chips in with 10♠10♣ against A♥Q♥. The flop was J♠J♥6♥, which was not great for Shelly, but not disastrous. Then the 2♥ turned and that was pretty grim. However the J♣ came on the river and Shelly, who had already left his seat, earned a reprieve.
“I never understand why people stand up,” Altergott said.
“I think it give you extra equity,” Shelly replied.
Blom was greatly enjoying all this, as he does whenever he makes a deep run in a tournament. He was sitting next to Shelly, behind a big stack, dressed in hotel-room slippers, loose shorts and a T-shirt and had a constantly jiggling left leg.
His indefatigable PA, Megan Hockley, sat behind him, ready to leap to any new whim. She prepared to make a dinner reservation and checked in with Blom’s friends Trickett and Schwartz to see if they would be available to dine. Hockley then scurried away.
(If you ever find yourself as a high rolling poker player and need someone to arrange everything in your life that doesn’t involve cards, you too should look at Hero Call, by the way. Very competitive rates.)
Lehmanski got his short stack in the middle with K♥J♦ and took a huge chunk out of Enrico Leone de Picciotto when he hit a jack on the turn. (Leone de Picciotto had A♥9♣.) Then Lunkin doubled up too on the other table, which was Leone de Picciotto’s last chance of eking through the bubble.
He got his last money in on the next hand and ran into top set.
McDonald and Colman, who had been chatting throughout, continued their banter as the latter secured a little sweetener from the former. McDonald swallowed heavily, but it’s going to take much more than this tournament to break the bank of Timex.
With Colman, Shelly, Blom, Lunkin, Mateos Diaz, Muehlocker and Lehmanski still involved, there’s plenty still to watch.