The €50,000 Super High Roller event at EPT Prague is never quite as big as equivalent events at other European Poker Tour stops. But no one has ever doubted its ability to attract the very best players in the world, and a glance at the final three of the 44-entry field assembled here this week will underline the point emphatically.
Each of Stephen Chidwick (UK), Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier (France) and Adrian Mateos (Spain) tops the money list in their home countries, and mostly by a considerable margin. And when a quick-fire final table sorted out the finishing order tonight — handing a gold medal to Chidwick, a silver to Grospellier, and a bronze to Mateos — each simply further extended their leads. (You could add that Steve O’Dwyer, who finished fourth for €245,460, is the official leader of the Ireland money list, even though he grew up in the United States.)
Chidwick’s victory — remarkably his first in a PokerStars-branded Super High Roller event — gave him €725,710 and pushed him above Fedor Holz in poker’s global money list. That now places him as the leading European on those rankings, a position that finally matches his prodigious and durable talent. Chidwick is still only 30, but has been at the top of his game for more than a decade. He can now add the Prague Super High Roller title to his string of accolades.
“Fun,” Chidwick said of his tournament. “Just ran amazingly well.” He added that although Prague has been good for him over the years (he has made a main event final table, among others) he was surprised that this was his first outright win with a buy-in of more than €25K. Chidwick said: “Pretty poor record in these, I suppose. Probably should have won about four by now. First one’s the hardest, huh.”
Grospellier, a former PCA champion, and one of only a handful of players with titles on the EPT, WPT and at the WSOP, was denied what would have been his first Super High Roller title too. The man still best known as ElkY, and a former Team PokerStars Pro, took his career earnings close to $15 million with his €501,590 second-place prize. It’s good to see ElkY back at the top table after a couple of years away.
To be honest, the final table featured only those kind of performers who have been “in good form” for so long that you might just about conclude that they know how to play this game. Between them, Chidwick, Grospellier, Mateos, O’Dwyer, Jean-Noel Thorel and Ben Heath have a ton of experience and a phenomenal string of results. Mateos and Thorel had won already this week; none of the other had to look too far back for their latest victory.
Heath was the short stack overnight and was first to depart today, jamming over Thorel’s open with A♣Q♥ but unable to win the race against Thorel’s 7♣7♠.
That was about as good as it got today for Thorel, however, because his next major confrontation turned out to be a defining pot. On a flop and turn of 7♠7♦6♦ | 10♥, Thorel’s 8♦9♦ was looking exceptionally pretty. The Q♥ river meant the straight flush draw didn’t hit, but the straight was still plenty good enough to call Chidwick’s shove. But Chidwick’s 10♠10♥ was even better and his full house earned a double up, clipping Thorel’s wings.
ElkY then doubled through Thorel too, with a come-from-behind hit with K♠Q♠ to beat Thorel’s A♠Q♦. And Thorel was then finished off thanks to O’Dwyer’s one-two punch, eventually leaving when O’Dwyer’s K♦10♠ beat Thorel’s Q♥J♦. Thorel won €192,100, but it felt cruelly too little.
Chidwick maintained the chip lead earned in the cooler against Thorel, and was then able to sent O’Dwyer out in a pair-versus-pair set-up. O’Dwyer three-bet pushed his last 1.5 million with 8♠8♥ but Chidwick’s A♣A♦ was never threatened. O’Dwyer picked up another €245,460.
The last three of Mateos, Grospellier and Chidwick represent probably the finest three players from each of their respective countries: Spain, France and the UK. As noted,they are already top of the three money lists. Mateos won more than $1.6 million in tournaments in November, and added another $200K a few days ago here in Prague, but his run in this tournament ended in third.
Mateos called off the last of his chips with A♠10♣ but lost to Chidwick’s Q♣J♣. The killer was the jack on the turn, which gave the lot to Chidwick. Mateos won €320,170 this time, and is surely not done for the year yet.
That left a thoroughly intriguing heads up battle between two players who grew up on either side of the English Channel, but who have risen through the ranks of the international poker scene at almost the same time. Chidwick had a dominant chip lead, but ElkY doubled up twice to even the match.
Chidwick ground him down again, but then ElkY made a straight flush when Chidwick had the ace-high flush, and they played on. Chidwick eventually got it done when his Q♠10♠ spiked a ten to beat ElkY’s A♦K♥. That was the end of that, and the end of Chidwick’s “drought”. If only we all had droughts like Stephen Chidwick.
EPT Prague €50,000 Super High Roller
Date: December 11, 2019
Entries: 44 (inc. 14 re-entries)
Prize pool: €2,134,440
1 – Stephen Chidwick, UK, €725,710
2 – Bertrand Grospellier, France, €501,590
3 – Adrian Mateos, Spain, €320,170
4 – Steve O’Dwyer, Ireland, €245,460
5 – Jean-Noel Thorel, France, €192,100
6 – Ben Heath, UK, €149,410