If playing poker is the lifestyle that many want to pursue, how about pursuing that lifestyle on the French Riviera? The European Poker Tour has been doing that for the past week with the EPT Monte Carlo at the Monte Carlo Casino in Monaco. What was a record field for the tournament is now down to the final six players, with Canada’s Mike Watson and the UK’s Leo Worthington-Leese vying for the chip lead.
Working Our Way to a Final Table
Thirteen players came back on Friday to the Monte Carlo Casino, looking to get down to the final table of the EPT Monte Carlo. The 1098 entries that had come out for the tournament tied the record for an EPT Main Event in Monte Carlo, and 146 players had taken a piece of the €5.325 million prize pool. The final thirteen were led by Norway’s Joachim Haraldstad, who had amassed a 5.635 million chip stack, with players like Worthington-Leese (3.135 million), Jason Wheeler (2.815 million, and Watson (2.02 million) in pursuit.
The action got off to a quick start in a battle between two players who each thought they were the best, but only one could be. Samy Boujmala raised the betting and saw Arunas Sapitavicius defend his big blind to see an A-9-7 flop. With an open-ended straight draw, Sapitavicius checked his option and called a bet out of Boujmala. A Jack on the turn now gave Boujmala a singular draw at a Broadway straight, but he still had the best hand overall. Instead of pushing the issue, however, Boujmala followed a check from Sapitavicius with one of his own.
The ten on the river lit the fireworks. Sapitavicius had made his ten high straight, but the runner-runner Broadway straight of Boujmala trumped it. An unknowing Sapitavicius pushed out a 280K bet, only to see Boujmala up the action to 1.1 million. Sapitavicius pondered for quite some time before calling the bet and, reluctantly, sliding his chips to the muck after seeing Boujmala’s hand.
Those two players were nearly equal after that hand, but the news was not so good for a few others. Nicola Grieco, Kenan Taylor, Ori Hasson, and Oleg Vasylchenko would depart the event in thirteenth through tenth places, respectively, to bring the final nine players together on one table. Worthington-Leese had made a move up the board a bit, but Haraldstad still held the edge as the unofficial final table began.
Watson and Worthington-Leese Get Busy
Watson had consistently been one of the most active players in the tournament up to the final table and he didn’t lift off the gas once there. He would airball a hand against Leonard Maue but was able to chip up against Haraldstad when he rivered a full house. All that work was for naught, however, as Worthington-Leese clipped Maduka Meragal out of the tournament to bring the table to the “official” EPT final eight.
The tournament did not stop there, however. The plans were to play to the final six players to make for a shorter Day Six, so the survivors plowed onward. Watson catapulted to the top of the standings when he dispatched Sapitavicius from the event after Watson rivered a flush against the flopped pair of Kings of Sapitavicius and there was one more elimination to go.
That elimination would take some time, though. The players decided on a dinner break and came back after the sustenance to do battle. Wheeler, who was on the short stack before the dinner bell, came back with a vengeance and took the first four pots of the post-dinner play. That pushed his stack near the three million mark, but his next tussle would be his last.
Worthington-Leese would open up the action off the hijack and Wheeler couldn’t let the big blind go without a fight. A 6-5♦ 2♦ flop seemed innocent enough, but Wheeler came out with guns blazing on a 200K bet. Worthington-Leese upped the action to 475K, and Wheeler didn’t hold back, dropping his remaining stack in the center. Worthington-Leese just as quickly made the call, and the cards went to their backs:
Wheeler: K♦ 10♦ (flush draw)
Worthington-Leese: pocket sixes
The set of Worthington-Leese had to look good to the Englishman, but he had to fade the eight diamonds remaining in the deck (one of Worthington-Leese’s sixes was a diamond). A nine came on the turn, but it was black, as was the seven on the river. Those two cards would end the run of Wheeler in seventh place and set up a thrilling final six battle for Saturday.
1. Leo Worthington-Leese (United Kingdom), 8.27 million
2. Mike Watson (Canada), 8.135 million
3. Joachim Haraldstad (Norway), 5.13 million
4. Leonard Maue (Austria), 4.305 million
5. Samy Boujmala (France), 3.675 million
6. Arnaud Enselme (France), 3.145 million
Final table action in the EPT Monte Carlo Main Event will take place at 12:30 PM local time (6:30 AM Eastern Daylight Time), with the action streamed on the PokerStars Twitch page. While Worthington-Leese and Watson are riding high, Haraldstad is not a player to take lightly. Every player is guaranteed to walk away from their stay in Monaco with a minimum of €180,900 ($198,795 U. S.), but the big prize is what everyone wants – the €890,000 payday and the EPT trophy that goes along with it.