The rule of thumb for High Roller events is that half the field we see all the time and the other half we'll never see again. The former group are the regular faces at the biggest games both online and off while the second lot are the rich local businessmen having their shot at the poker big time. They likely won't travel too far away form their home office, and will likely show up again only next year.
In Deauville this week, however, there are a handful of players who don't fit comfortably into either category. Neither Vojtech Ruzicka nor Adrian Mateos are exactly household names in poker circles, but neither are they relying on outside interests for their bankrolls. They are three of the young players who have only recently emerged as serious threats on the EPT, but who have used only poker to build sufficient collateral to sit down with the sharks and the whales.
Let's take Ruzicka first. Although he is a relative newbie to Europe's premier poker tour, here is a player who has cut his for several years on the regional circuit. Ruzicka has live cashes from Monaco, Estonia, Germany, Spain and Italy, as well as six World Series of Poker cashes and eight from his native Czech Republic.
The biggest live cash of his career came in Rozvadov, recently announced as a stop on the PokerStars Eureka Poker Tour. Ruzicka won €122,500 for taking down to German Championship of Poker held there. (Although Rozvadov is officially in the Czech Republic, it is right on the border with Germany.)
All of that, however, is small fry compared with what Ruzicka has managed to gross online. Playing as Vojta_R on PokerStars and beyond, Ruzicka has more than $2m in online tournament earnings, by far the largest chunk of which came when he finished second to Thomas "Kallllle" Pedersen in the 2011 WCOOP main event.
Ruzicka spent a lot of time on the feature table last night, when he was a relative short stack. But after the broadcast team went home, Ruzicka went to work and built up the fourth largest stack of anyone returning today. It hasn't gone all his way today and he has been hauled back into the pack. But there are only 22 players left and he is among them. Ten more to bust and then he's in the money.
Adrian Mateos is also battling into the deep stages. According to Ivan Marti, who writes for our paella-eating, afternoon-sleeping, Ole! Ole! Ole!-ing Spanish sister blog PokerStarsBlog.com/es Mateos is a teenage sensation fresh from the Estrellas Poker Tour (ESPT).
Playing the rush, Mateos leapt into the High Roller here and is also still on one of the final three tables. Viva Mateos!
Throughout the day, our live coverage will be on the EPT Deauville main event page. And you can also watch it on EPT Live on PokerStars.tv. But there's also the High Roller playing its second day simultaneously. Tune in to that too.