With a couple of minutes to go until play was due to start there were five players seated in the €25,000 High Roller. Over on table two Shaun Deeb (seat three), Juha Helppi (seat five) and Berthold Winz (seat seven) sat in glorious silence while on table one Charlie Carrel (seat three) and Mike McDonald (seat five) had struck up a conversation.
“You know more about this than me,” said Carrel to McDonald, as he pointed at the tournament clock showing 13 players registered in the tournament. “How many do you reckon we’ll get?”
He might not have known it, but Carrel had picked a good, nay the right person to pose this question to. McDonald is a permanent fixture in high buy-in events on the EPT. Whilst this may not be a Super High Roller, it’s ‘only’ a €25,000 buy-in after all, McDonald and Jason Mercier are the only two players to have played every single Super High Roller held on the EPT.
Part of the reason for the slow start to this event is that a number of players who’d usually be in their seats right now are in transit from Berlin, where the WSOP Europe is taking place and which McDonald alluded to.
“A bunch of people are on a flight from Berlin,” said McDonald, and this seemed to make the Englishman feel better about having entered. However, this particular respite didn’t last too long. After saying hello to Paul Newey, who was now nestled in seat seven, Scott Seiver plonked himself between McDonald and Carrel. The table didn’t exactly soften up after that as Sam Greenwood and Justin Bonomo got their feet under table one.
McDonald’s assertion that everyone always shows up late wasn’t technically true, as Carrel, Adrian Mateos and Juha Helppi were all here well ahead of time. So much so in fact that the tournament director told them to come back later as they needed to get a better grasp on numbers and how many starting tables were required at the start.
This gave Carrel time to finish his smoothie – purchased from a newly installed ‘Dr Juice’ juice bar at the Portomaso Casino – and reflect on returning to the venue where it all began for him on the EPT some seven months ago. “I’m very excited to be back,” he told the PokerStars Blog. Back in March Carrel finished fifth here in the €10,000 High Roller and he’d then go on to win the €25,000 High Roller at the EPT11 Grand Final.
Whilst all this was happening Steve O’Dwyer took up residency in seat eight over at the McDonald/Seiver/Carrel table and thought he’d arrived in time to be dealt into the hand that was just starting. He hadn’t. After a bit of fake annoyance he sat down and delved into his brunch instead. It was, we’re told, a local Maltese delicacy called a pastizz. O’Dwyer’s was pea flavoured and he implored anyone visiting the island for this event to try one. His one hand exile soon ended though and he, like 17 others are now busy getting their teeth into this poker tournament.
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We will have all the usual coverage on the EPT Malta page on PokerStars Blog, including the IPT Main Event which is fast approaching the money and don’t forget you can follow this EPT event via the EPT app. There you will get all the latest news, chip counts and payouts. You can download it on Android or IOS