Monaco: The second smallest country in the world (behind Vatican City) and a hub for the rich and famous. It is glitzy, full of glamour and very apt for the 2012 PokerStars and Monte Carlo® Casino EPT Grand Final. Season 8 was about to come to an end and we were going to do it in style.

Having come straight from Berlin to Monaco, I was already fighting the fatigue, but to arrive in this Billionaire’s Playground, the sun shining, the sky blue and the Mediterranean glistening a beautiful turquoise, I woke up again. Taking a stroll around the famous Princess Grace Avenue and becoming lost on winding pieces of Grand Prix track, I was made fully aware how beautiful this tiny municipality was. It’s the only place I have been to where instead of getting woken up by a cleaning lady hovering out in the corridor or banging on my door, I was woken instantaneously by the whirr of a Ferrari engine. Morning, noon and night, all I could hear was fast cars, sounds of laughter, champagne pouring and wads full of money being flashed about. This place wasn’t cheap, but having explored the streets for two days before the tournament got under way, I was learning how to economize in a place built for multi-millionaires.

Everywhere we walked, there were signs of the preparation for the Formula One Grand Prix taking place in just a few weeks time. I would have loved to have been in Monaco for this, but we knew having the EPT Grand Final and the F1 Grand Prix at the same time might have been a recipe for disaster in terms of the amount of people in this tiny country. We arrived in Monaco for the poker just the day after the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters tennis took place as well, so I was hoping for a surprise soiree with Raphael Nadal who took it down (unsurprisingly) but it was not to be. I did however meet Djokovich’s economist in the pool doing some lengths at Le Meridien Beach Plaza, who was full of surprisingly interesting conversation and we swapped poker gossip for tennis chat, which pleased me no end.

Here is our sightseeing tour video for Monaco. Please note, obviously as I stated previously Ferraris are everywhere here, but when we are waiting for one to feature in our video, does it want to arrive? The answer is no, but waiting for it did help my tan to progress a lot:

The Grand Final began with the €100,000 Super High Roller event, which to me is an insane amount of money; I still can’t quite get my head around it. Nonetheless, there were still 38 entrants and a total of 45 registrations as players did have a choice to re-register if they lost all their chips at the beginning. This created a prize pool of €4,432,500 and it was just as good Justin Bonomo did decide to re-register when he bust out, because he went on to win the event for €1,640,000. Not bad for three days work. Here is our interview shortly after he took it down:

The Main Event had already gotten under way by the time Justin had shone in the glory of taking down the Super High Roller title. Play moved pretty quickly through the first few days and we saw a total of 665 players take their seats, creating a prize pool of €6.65m and a first place prize of €1.35m. Five Team PokerStars Pros made the money, including Max Martinez (Italy) for €15,000, Angel Guillen (Mexico) and Sandra Naujoks (Germany) for €20,000, and Richard Toth (Hungary) and Matthias De Meulder (Belgium) for €30,000. Yet 34th was to be the best place for our Team Pros. Justin Bonomo had also made the money, after not feeling completely satisfied by his win of €1,640,000 in the Super High Roller; he also cashed for €35,000 in 28th place. Yet, it was Mohsin Charania who eventually took the EPT Grand Final down.


Mohsin Charania

He was heads-up against French mademoiselle and well-known online player (known as SoMuchB online), Lucille Cailly, who was the only lady to have ever made a final table at the Grand Final. She played superbly with a huge amount of aggression, but Charania just had the edge in the action of a very fast-paced final table. He spoke to us just after his win:

Now, because this was the Grand Final, things just didn’t end once the winner of the main event had been announced. There was still the €25,000 High Roller, Tournament of Champions and the EPT Awards and party to contend with. (I told you we were going to go out with a bang!) To say Justin Bonomo was running well was an understatement. He wins the Super High Roller, cashes in the main and now suddenly becomes chip leader going into the final table of the €25,000 Hi Roller. He didn’t eventually win it, but he still made fourth place for another €266,000. Madness. We left it to Daniel Negreanu and Igor Kurganov to battle it out for the €1,080,000 first prize, yet it was Kurganov who eventually took this one down, though we could tell Daniel really wanted his first EPT title.

There was always the party, which we of course saw him at partying away until the wee small hours of the morning. As I prepared for the EPT Awards and my final night in the Billionaire’s Playground, Christophe Benzimra was busy winning the Tournament of Champions (with EPT Loutraki Champ Zimnan Ziyard coming second and EPT Deauville Champ Jake Cody in third) netting themselves a huge amount of buy-ins for Season 9 on the EPT.

We leave you with the EPT Awards, which show some of the winners for Player of the Year, Online Qualifier of the Year, Player’s Choice, Achievement of the Year and Country of the Year:

No doubt about it, Season 8 and all its 13 stops had been a whirlwind of poker, travel and fun explorations, but we have even more hope and anticipation for Season 9 on the greatest poker tour of them all, the EPT.


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