With the elimination of the last American, Kenny Hicks, in seventh place, we are guaranteed a “new” flag by the name of the Grand Final champion. We have never had a winner of the European Poker Tour’s showpiece from any of Germany, the United Kingdom, Sweden, Italy or Colombia, and those are now the only countries we have left.
Few will be surprised about Colombia’s deficiency in this department. Mayu Roca, their representative at the final table today, is already top of the all time Colombian money list, despite lifetime live earnings of less than $500,000. Poker is popular in Colombia (and Roca is a very good player), but they haven’t made an enormous splash all the way over here.
However, what on earth have players from the United Kingdom, Sweden and Germany been doing in Monaco over the past ten years that they haven’t managed to pick up a title? These are the three most dominant European nations on this tour, with nine (Sweden), 11 (Germany) and 16 (UK) “regular” EPT titles between them.
Here’s where we can probably allow the Swedes to make their excuses. The blue-eyed, blonde-haired nordics don’t exactly hurry to Monaco as the country is not a member of the European Union, meaning their winnings here will be taxed on their return home. Although they tear through tournaments in the UK, France, Spain, etc., there’s not a tremendous urgency to send six figures to the Swedish taxman, so don’t tend to put themselves under that risk. (There was that time in Madrid, though, wasn’t there.)
Brits and Germans have no such excuse, though. Although it is tough to be a full-time online grinder and live in Germany (players there are expected to pay tax if poker is their principal employment), a big live score for the likes of Sebastian Bredthauer or Sebastian von Toperczer is theirs to keep. That has always been the case, so Germans have definitely been underachieving here. (Philipp Gruissem just won the High Roller at almost precisely the moment I wrote that sentence, by the way.)
I guess there’s simply no excuse at all for the British “failure” here — and my countryfolk have a surprisingly terrible record in these parts. Although the first three seasons in Monaco always had at least one Briton at the final, and three during Season 3, Jake Cody became the first to return to that particular slab of felt when he came fifth last year. That’s six years away from the final table for British players.
Jack Salter has the chance to remedy all that this afternoon, though. A nation expects.
EPT Grand Final Champions:
Season 1: Rob Hollinck, Netherlands
Season 2: Jeff Williams, USA
Season 3: Gavin Griffin, USA
Season 4: Glen Chorny, Canada
Season 5: Pieter de Korver, Netherlands
Season 6: Nicolas Chouity, Lebanon
Season 7: Ivan Freitez, Venezuela
Season 8: Mohsin Charania, USA
Season 9: Steve O’Dwyer, Ireland
EPT champions from Sweden, Germany and UK:
Sweden: Alexander Stevic, Mats Gavatin, Mats Iremark, Magnus Petersson, Anton Wigg, Kent Lundmark, Michael Tureniec, Ramzi Jelassi, Robin Ylitalo. (9)
Germany: Thang Duc Nguyen, Michael Schulze, Sebastian Ruthenberg, Moritz Kranich, Sandra Naujoks, Michael Eiler, Martin Schleich, Benny Spindler, Martin Finger, Daniel Pidun, Julian Track. (11)
UK: John Shipley, Ram Vaswani, Mark Teltscher, Victoria Coren Mitchell (x2), Roland de Wolfe, Julian Thew, Will Fry, Jake Cody, Liv Boeree, Toby Lewis, David Vamplew, Roberto Romanello, Rupert Elder, Zimnan Ziyard, Tom Middleton. (16)