Over the past year or so, it has become very, very difficult to beat Mustapha Kanit in any kind of poker tournament. He’s won them all. But about a year before that, we were saying much the same thing about a young German named Ole Schemion, and at the final table of the €100,000 super high roller event at the PokerStars and Monte-Carlo®Casino EPT12 Grand Final today, Schemion took us back to the B.K. era. That’s “Before Kanit”, in case you didn’t know.
Kanit and Schemion were the last of 46 players (plus 15 re-entries) left in this one, slugging it out for the famous trophy. After seeing off the rest of the field, they had already decided their paydays–a heads-up deal left €1,547,800 for Schemion and €1,462,000, with €50,000 to play for–so it was all about who would claim bragging rights.
They cut the levels to 20 minutes each, and were clearly just hoping to get it done as quickly as possible. And by 6:30pm local time, Schemion sealed the deal. His pocket queens beat Kanit’s pockets sevens and that was that.
“It’s very sweet to win against Mustapha,” Schemion said. “He’s a very good friend of mine.”
The end game barely tells a fraction of the story. It was much more thrilling than just that. There was an interesting dynamic at the start of play, where the only completely unknown quantity, Ali Reza Fatehi, had the biggest stack, while the second businessman-turned-poker player, Paul Newey, had inched into the money with the shortest of stacks.
Bunched between them were some of the fiercest sharks in the world game, but it was hard to say what way it was going to pan out.
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As it happened, Newey managed to avoid an early bath with a couple of crucial double ups on the first and second hands of the day. It meant that Ivan Luca and Sam Greenwood were left with the short stacks and the Argentinian and the Canadian became the first two to fall. Meanwhile Newey continued to cling on and Fatehi sat back behind a big stack and watched others go to war.
Stephen Chidwick is something of a fixture at the final tables of major events, but he also seems to run out of run good when it matters most. This was no exception. He made at least one excellent fold when he might have lost a lot more chips to Fatehi, but then couldn’t get away from two pair after Igor Kurganov flopped a straight.
Chidwick played his short stack effectively enough, but when he picked his spot to jam, with J♠10♠, Newey had found kings. Chidwick was flailing and Newey finished him off soon after. He went out in sixth.
Newey will know that having come to the final table with only five big blinds, he may well have been the first man out today. But after his comeback, he will have been disappointed to go out in fifth–particularly after flopping a set of eights.
However Schemion flopped a flush draw in the same hand and got there on the turn. Newey couldn’t fill up on the river and had to bid farewell. He took €485,300 and continues to grow his reputation among the high rollers.
With four players left, there was now nowhere to hide for Fatehi. And true to the form that we’ve seen from him over the past couple of days, he was happy to go on the offensive.
The problem: when he made a huge move with queen high, Kanit had a jack-high flush. Kanit, who had also made one breathtaking fold earlier today, pondered whether he could let it go to the Iranian’s aggression, but decided he could not. Kanit called and Fatehi slumped to the short stack for the first time since Day 1.
Fatehi might have been next out had Kurganov not made a rare mis-step and shoved from the small blind pre-flop with Q♥2♥, running into Fatehi’s 10♠10♥. That doubled Fatehi and left Kurganov on the ropes. He perished soon after when he jammed with Q♥10♥ and smashed into Kanit’s A♦Q♦.
Three-handed play was something of a mismatch. Kanit and Schemion not only had far more chips than Fatehi, but they also have much more tournament experience. And it was down to Schemion to end the businessman’s brilliant trip to Monaco when he won a race with A♦10♣ versus Fatehi’s pocket fives.
Considering Fatehi only decided to pop to Europe on something of a whim, his performance here was doubly brilliant. He is a regular in some big cash games, but won’t have played against players of this quality before.
He more than held his own–and picked up €828,500 to boot. There’s probably a chance we’ll see him again.
That left two absolute beasts to go head-to-head for the title. Schemion v Kanit is the kind of heavyweight battle ordinarily promoted by Don King. With both players having the utmost respect for one another’s game, they immediately negotiated the ICM and then got it done as quickly as possible.
Schemion ground down Kanit, making the final hand (two pocket pairs) a mere formality. It marked a winning return to action for Schemion, who had actually taken a short break from poker since the PCA in January. The rest appears to have done him the world of good.
“I just wanted to take some time off and do something away from poker, so to come back and win the super high roller is really great,” he said.
With the main event just starting, and a whole host of other high buy-in tournaments still to come this week, it seems unlikely that’s the end of Schemion’s success.
EPT Grand Final super high roller
Dates: April 28-30, 2016
Buy in: €100,000
Entries: 61 (46 players plus 15 re-entries)
Prize pool: €5,918,220
1 – Ole Schemion, Germany, €1,597,800*
2 – Mustapha Kanit, Italy, €1,462,000*
3 – Ali Reza Fatehi, Iran, €828,500
4 – Igor Kurganov, Russia, €627,300
5 – Paul Newey, United Kingdom, €485,300
6 – Stephen Chidwick, United Kingdom, €378,750
7 – Sam Greenwood, Canada, €301,820
8 – Ivan Luca, Argentina, €236,750
*denotes heads-up deal