You’ll never reach a definitive conclusion in the search for the greatest ever tournament feat, but you’ll certainly hear the purists referencing Dan Harrington’s back-to-back World Series of Poker Main Event final tables and Greg Raymer’s extraordinary run to 25th the year after he won it. Conquering the variance of enormous fields is difficult enough to achieve once, but then to do it again immediately after is worth an even louder round of applause.
Vasili Firsau, the Belarussian player currently in the middle of the pack in the last 12 here at the PokerStars and Monte-Carlo®Casino EPT Grand Final Main Event, is not exactly the household name of either Harrington or Raymer. But his exploits in Monaco this week deserve special recognition, if only because he did almost exactly the same thing this time last year in the Principality.
Firsau finished tenth of 531 in the Main Event last May, winning €76,000, which was at the time his largest tournament cash. But after 12 months during which he has cemented his place in the top echelons of European tournament players, Firsau would need to finish sixth this time to hit a new high note. Since last year’s Grand Final, he’s been on a tear.
Firsau finished second at WPT Prague in December, picking up €135,000 and was also the runner up to Mohsin Charania at the WPT in Paris, which was worth €230,200. In fact, he has won close to $600,000 in tournament play since his trip to Monaco last season and has already secured significantly more this time around than all the players who outlasted him back then.
It seems kind of ungracious to admit this now, but there weren’t many in the world of poker who were cheering for Firsau this time last year. When the tournament reached its last ten, he was the only “unknown” player in a sea of superstars, and pretty much everybody wanted him out, if only to secure the most remarkable final table of all time.
As you know, the EPT goes to an unofficial final table of nine — ie, the field condenses to nine players around one table — before it gets to its official final eight, and with Firsau and Freddy Deeb the short-stacks it wasn’t exactly hard to know who to root for in order to get the nine best known under the studio lights.
It is therefore gratifying to see Firsau back this year, shooting for redemption. He doesn’t seem the kind of guy to hold any grudges against the tacit anti-rail he got last year, and simply seems delighted to be proving his mettle once again. All of the others are long gone, and only he is still in with a shout of an even bigger first prize than Steve O’Dwyer won last year.
A year since the 2013 Grand Final
The EPT Grand Final of 2013 assembled the greatest final table of any open poker tournament of all time–but the “unknown” who finished tenth has also risen to prominence since then.
In the 12 months since the last Grand Final, the final ten players have won a combined $6.2m in tournaments worldwide. Here’s the breakdown of their prize-money, plus their Grand Final finishing place and winnings in brackets.
Daniel Negreanu: $3,353,225.24 (4th – €321,000)
Jason Mercier: $620,983.40 (7th – €137,000)
Noah Schwartz: $614,642.82 (6th – €189,000)
Steve O’Dwyer: $608,186.15 (1st – €1,224,000)
Vasili Firsau: $598,876.16 (10th – €76,000)
Johnny Lodden: $160,184.79 (3rd – €467,000)
Jake Cody: $136,811.00 (5th – €251,000)
Grant Levy: $77,182.20 (8th – €103,000)
Freddy Deeb: $36,010.00 (9th – €76,000)
Andrew Pantling: $0 (2nd – €842,000)
PokerStars.tv meets Vasili Firsau
Hand-by-hand coverage of the €25,000 High Roller event is in the panel at the top of the main High Roller page. Chip counts are also in the panel; feature pieces are below. Follow the action from the Main Event on the Main Event page, and also follow along on EPTLive.