It doesn't get any less thrilling through its continual repetition, but this is the single most exhilarating final table ever assembled on the European Poker Tour, and quite possibly even further than these boundaries as well.
But how so? What's so good about it? Well, let's just look at what some of these players can achieve if they take it down today:
If Daniel Negreanu wins:
Kid Poker is already the most recognisable face in the world game--with good reason. He has amassed $17.5m in tournament winnings, has five World Series of Poker bracelets, and two World Poker Tour titles. But he has never won an EPT main event. That means Negreanu is chasing the Triple Crown and would join Jake Cody, Roland de Wolfe, Davidi Kitai and Gavin Griffin in poker's most exclusive club. Let's face it, he's been on the waiting list for quite some time, and who would dare black-ball Negreanu?
If Jason Mercier wins:
The quest for the first two-time EPT champion is getting a little boring now. This is the 91st EPT main event and no one has won two of them...until now? Certainly we have never had a better chance to put that hoodoo to rest and Jason Mercier doesn't make a habit of reaching final tables without winning them. He is already a Triple Crown winner, has won two NAPT Bounty Shootouts, and would be many commentators' choice to become that first sensational double EPT winner...
If Jake Cody wins:
...ditto Jake Cody. It is difficult to think that this time four years ago, no one in poker had even heard of the lad from Rochdale, who is still only 24 years old. But in January 2010 he came from nowhere to win EPT Deauville, before winning WPT London about five months later, an then won a WSOP bracelet less than a year later. It was a 16-month Triple Crown and will almost certainly never be bettered. If he wins here today, he will become the first two-time EPT champion and he too is a sensational bet for that accolade. It would put him in the top four all time tournament money winners from the UK.
If Steve O'Dwyer wins:
No one ever remembers the guy who comes second. And no one ever remembers the guy who comes to a final table with a chip lead and then dusts it off before the final three. But although Steve O'Dwyer has done both of those things on the EPT--finishing runner-up to Benny Spindler in London on season eight, then finishing fifth in the same venue on the next season, despite leading into the final--O'Dwyer keeps coming back to set the record straight. Both ElkY and Michael Tureniec have come second and then won an EPT. Is O'Dwyer set, finally, to be the third? O'Dwyer also has dual nationality--Ireland and the United States--and has opted here in Monaco to play under the Irish flag. He would therefore become the first ever Irish EPT winner. Will the luck of the Irish see O'Dwyer through?
If Johnny Lodden wins:
ElkY is so far the only Team PokerStars Pro to win an EPT main event while already signed up to the team. But Johnny Lodden has been wearing the Red Spade for years and has consistently gone deep in the biggest tournaments in the world throughout. There has been an atmosphere of "destiny" all week in Monaco, and a title for Johnny Lodden would feel as though something really career-defining had occurred. He has been at this for a long, long time -- he was described this week as "one of the first ever real online spin-up merchants" -- and this could well be the crowning glory.
If Grant Levy, Andrew Pantling or Noah Schwartz wins:
If any of Levy, Pantling or Schwartz had made the final table at pretty much any other EPT main event, they would be considered the big story. They represent three of the brightest talents in the game, both online and off and -- let's be really clear -- a victory for any of them would be brilliant, a thoroughly deserved success for an amazing player. It's just, well, see above...
A quick note on how to follow our coverage of the PokerStars and Monte-Carlo® Casino European Poker Tour Grand Final. Head to the main EPT Monaco page, where you will find hand-by-hand coverage in the panel at the top of the page, which also includes current chip counts and payouts so far.
There is also hand-by-hand coverage of the €25,000 High Roller event on the High Roller page.