The High Roller is done, with an up-and-coming Austrian having emerged from a high caliber field, a tough final table, and a huge heads-up deficit against Team PokerStars Pro Daniel Negreanu to claim victory, as Thomas Muhlocker claimed the title and €390,700 first prize.
It was a record-smashing field for the three-day €10,000+€300 High Roller, with 180 total entries, a full 40 entries clear of the previous high at EPT9 Berlin and a huge jump from the 101 who played the High Roller in Barcelona a year ago.
With one re-entry permitted to players busting on Day 1, 42 players total took advantage of that option, with Negreanu being the one whose exit and re-entry brought the most notice.
After busting in the second level of Day 1 amid some tilt-producing circumstances, Negreanu regathered himself to return after dinner, making it through with a below average stack with about a hundred others to Day 2. He’d then position himself well to start today’s final day third in chips among the final nine.
Joni Jouhkimainen led to start today’s final day of play, although during the first two levels Negreanu charged in front as Raoul Refos (ninth), David Benefield (eighth), and Richard Yong (seventh) hit the rail.
Negreanu pushed ahead even further as the next two fell, with the German wunderkind Ole Schemion going in sixth and Negreanu’s fellow Team PokerStars Pro Jonathan Duhamel exiting in fifth.
Finding himself the short stack among the final four, Jouhkimainen ran into some misfortune after waking up with a pair of tens in the big blind on a hand in which Jean-Noel Thorel had pocket aces in the small blind.
Preflop back-and-forthing between the two got Jouhkimainen’s chips in before the flop, and when the board brought no help for Jouhkimainen, and the Finnish player — showing some sparkly-hat-related camaraderie with his fellow countrymen at the Main Event final table — finished fourth for €148,000.
The remaining three made the dinner break, with Negreanu way out in front with 6.145 million to Muhlocker’s 1.485 million and Thorel’s 1.375 million.
Thorel has a long history of EPT High Roller participation and success, with his best showing previously coming at EPT5 Deauville where he finished runner-up in the €20K High Roller for a €115,200 score.
Soon after play began a blind-vs.-blind hand arose in which Thorel limped and Negreanu checked, then Thorel shoved following a 4♥6♥7♦ flop and Negreanu called without hesitation.
The Parisian had flopped a flush draw with J♥2♥, while Negreanu had spiked a big blind special, making a straight with 5♦3♥.
The turn and river brought no heart help for Thorel, who with a third-place finish here for €181,500 adds another great EPT High Roller score to his record, a bigger payday even than for his second-place showing in the EPT5 Deauville High Roller.
With 7.7 million to Muhlocker’s 1.3 million, Negreanu appeared prime to complete a remarkable High Roller story of going from being one of the first eliminated to winning the event. But alas for the Canadian such an ending wasn’t in the cards.
The first cards to contribute to Negreanu’s demise were a pair of aces dealt to Muhlocker and two fours to himself, resulting in a double for the Austrian.
The same pair of fours would hurt Negreanu once more in a hand that saw Muhlocker dealt two nines. Another double followed, and for the first time at the final table Muhlocker had the lead.
Immediately there followed a third hand in which betting before the flop saw the shorter stack — Negreanu this time — all in. He’d picked up A♥Q♠ this time, but Muhlocker had A♣K♠. A K♥10♣9♥ flop meant Negreanu could fill a straight to survive, but the turn and river — 5♠ and then 6♥ — gave the win, the prize money, and the Slyde watch to Muhlocker.
Muhlocker was humble afterwards when speaking of his comeback versus Negreanu, noting his good fortune to receive strong hands that held against his opponent’s series of second bests.
And while Negreanu was second best in this tournament, the win pushes him to the top of the competitive Global Poker Index Player of the Year rankings, a development of which Negreanu was aware of as a possibility beforehand, and ecstatic about afterwards.
WOW! Just found out I am #1 on the @GlobalPokerIndx I can't believe it! So happy and in shock. Wow wow wow!!! Very proud right now!
— Daniel Negreanu (@RealKidPoker) September 7, 2013
Also worth noting, with a cash of €263,800 for his finish, Negreanu jumps back up over Erik Seidel on the all-time money list, reclaiming the third-place spot Seidel took from him after finishing runner-up earlier in the week in the EPT10 Barcelona Super High Roller.
Looking back, Muhlocker’s tournament followed a similar pattern to that of Negreanu, with an early bust on Day 1, a less-than-promising stack to start Day 2, and a better day yesterday to end with nearly the same stack as Negreanu to begin today.
The Austrian continues what has turned into a stellar year that started with final tables at the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure and the Aussie Millions, a couple of WSOP cashes including another final table in the $5,000 no-limit hold’em event where he finished sixth for $129,447, and still more cashes in Europe including here at EPT Barcelona.
Muhlocker spoke with Sarah Grant afterwards about his victory.
With Raoul Refos of the Netherlands just missing the official final table, earning €39,500 for his ninth-place finish, here are the full final table results:
EPT10 Super High Roller
Date: September 5-7
Players: 138 players (and 42 re-entries)
Prize pool: €1,764,000
1. Thomas Muhlocker, Austria, €390,700
2. Team PokerStars Pro Daniel Negreanu, Canada, €263,800
3. Jean-Noel Thorel, France, €181,500
4. Joni Jouhkimainen, Finland, €148,000
5. Team PokerStars Pro Jonathan Duhamel, Canada, €118,000
6. Ole Schemion, Germany, €90,700
7. Richard Yong, United States, €66,000
8. David Benefield, United States, €47,850
Meanwhile we turn back to the conclusion of that other big tournament happening in the center of the room, the finish of the EPT10 Barcelona Main Event.
Click through to live coverage of the EPT Barcelona Main Event or the EPT Barcelona High Roller. Check out all the festival results here or take a look at what happened in the EPT Barcelona Super High Roller. Follow the @PokerStarsBlog Twitter account to keep up-to-date with all the EPT action and check out the EPTLive webcast.
Martin Harris is Freelance Contributor to the PokerStars Blog.