EPT Monte Carlo is over for another year, and another superstar joins the ranks of established greats as champion of the prestigious Main Event. Manig Loeser, 30, of Bad Homberg, Germany, finally got his hands on an EPT title, prevailing from a final table that continued a tradition of prolonged last-day battles, stretching past 3am local time.
“It was quite a fight,” Loeser said as he got his hands on the trophy and sealed a €603,777 payday. He agreed a heads-up deal with China’s Wei Huang, who took €552,056.
In addition to Loeser’s extraordinary composure, the final will likely be remember mostly for a nine-hour session between the elimination of Luis Medina in sixth and Nicola Greico in fifth. Although such specific records aren’t kept, it seems highly likely that this was the longest period of six-handed play in any major tournament.
There was never much hope for Medina, who had only 16 big blinds coming into the final and was relatively quickly knocked out, but Grieco was the chip leader at the start of the day and might have been optimistic about chances for victory. As it was, he was fortunate not to have been eliminated within about 90 minutes of final table play, shedding chips with alarming haste. He mounted a comeback to keep himself alive, but it was all ultimately in vain. He did still fall in fifth–it’s just that it was nine hours later.
Ryan Riess, the 2013 World Series of Poker Main Event champion, narrowly missed out on becoming the first WSOP winner to clinch an EPT title, falling in fourth, but not before his audacious and correct all-in call with ten high had wowed the crowds.
— PokerStars LIVE (@PokerStarsLIVE) May 4, 2019
Two other hands brought similar gasps from onlookers: one was a bluff from Huang that got Loeser to fold a straight, and the other was simply the craziest chopped pot an EPT final has ever seen. Check out the video below.
— PokerStars LIVE (@PokerStarsLIVE) May 4, 2019
This quick summary doesn’t really do justice to the part played in this final by both Huang and Viktor Katzenberger, both of whom came with a whisker of becoming their countries’ first EPT main event champions. China now has two second places, while Hungary still seeks a winner despite multiple final tables. Both of this week’s challengers showed they had what it takes to go better.
Manig Loeser celebrates with friends Rainer Kempe, Koray Aldemir and Albert Daher
Wei Huang, centre, with his railing section Jan Li and Hoaxiang Wang
Ryan Riess: World Champion narrowly missed the EPT title
Viktor Katzenberger hits much to Wang and Huang's dismay
Nicola Grieco: A long wait for fifth place
Luis Medina: Early departure for Portuguese player
The roster of champions in the week’s higher buy-in events had a very familiar look to it. Sergio Aido won the €100,000 Super High Roller, Matthias Eibinger won the €50K Single-Day event, Benjamin Pollak won the €25K High Roller, Rainer Kempe won the two-day €25K, Timothy Adams won the €25K Single Day High Roller and Sylvain Loosli won the €10K opener.
All of these have previously won major high buy-in titles either on the EPT or further afield, and they again proved their worth in the toughest competitions in the game.
Adams in particular had an excellent week, making the final table in the Main Event (finishing eighth) and coming fourth in the €10K on the last day of the festival, in addition to his €25K win. Daniel Dvoress made the final table in both the €100K and the €25K Super and regular High Rollers. There was also a fine return to the live arena for the new-look Charlie Carrel. He came fourth, sixth, fourth and third in high buy-in events — and still had the time to talk to Jack Stanton about his latest off-the-table endeavours.
Though it often seems as though the high rollers operate in a separated, closed-off, rarefied world, the emergence of Wiktor Malinowski this week showed that there are always more rounded talents emerging from the production line — or, in Malinowski’s case, crossing over from the online game.
Malinowski has been known online as “limitless” but this was his first appearance on the EPT high roller circuit, and he made his presence felt with a seventh-place finish in the Super High Roller and tenth in the Main Event. He was leading both events at one point, and seems to have got a taste for the live game.
The French National Championship attracted the biggest field of the Monte Carlo festival, with 1,425 entries of €1,100 each. Of those, 528 were re-entries, again proving the appeal of the single re-entry format in events like this.
Stefano Schiano took the €209,000 first-place prize back to Italy, celebrating the imminent arrival of his first child. We’ve had friends, family and dogs in winner’s pictures before, and this time we had an unborn child.
Hats off too to Georgios Kitsios, from Greece, who showed his patience and determination to succeed throughout a long festival. Kitsios was runner up to Loosli in the €10,000 buy-in Event #2, which got started on the very first day, and he stuck around all the way to finally bag a trophy in the €2,000 buy-in Event #35, which wrapped on the last day.
Christoph Vogelsang always lets his chips do the talking. Even among the serenity of the super high rollers, the taciturn German usually keeps his own counsel. But on Day 2 of the Main Event, Vogelsang demonstrated just how much of a class act he is in all circumstances by valuing game integrity higher than his own tournament prospects.
Vogelsang lost a significant pot to Fionn Macnamara, when Macnamara shoved from the small blind with 5♥3♥, Vogelsang called from the big blind with K♦5♦ but then Macnamara hit two threes on flop and turn.
Vogelsang was left with only 5,500 chips after the pot, about 3.5 big blinds, but then noticed that the dealer had miscounted Macnamara’s stack. Vogelsang picked up the dealer error and gave Macnamara an additional 2,000 — more than one third of his tiny stack.
There are very few poker players who would call that kind of thing on themselves, even if they had 100 BBs, let alone just three.
Karma rewarded Vogelsang with a rise from the ashes and a run to 18th place in the Main Event. Macnamara finished 50th.
Monaco brings out some of the best characters in the game, and we managed to catch up with plenty of them. We’ll be rolling out a host of interviews in the coming weeks, but many are already published.
Seth Fischer told us about the highs and lows of his career, but it was all highs for the PokerStars qualifiers on a beano to Monte Carlo: Sio Hong Si, Evy Widvey Kvilhaug, and Ambrose Travers.
Everything from Monte Carlo will remain on the timeline page, so fill your boots…and start planning for next year.