It was a historic cap to what has been a historic event. Tying the record for the largest-ever Monte Carlo Main Event, the European Poker Tour’s stop at the Monte Carlo Casino was finished with another name joining the shortlist that has won two stops on the EPT circuit. When the last card fell, Canada’s Mike Watson had emerged victorious over a game Leonard Maue of Austria to pick up the championship.
Six Men Enter…
Six combatants entered the Monte Carlo Casino on Saturday, but only one of them would walk out with the goal they wanted. On the very last hand of play on Friday, England’s Leo Worthington-Leese (8.27 million chips) had passed Watson (8.135 million) for the chip lead, so they were expected to be players to watch during the final stages of the tournament. Lurking in the back, however, were Norway’s Joachim Haraldstad (5.13 million), who had also spent time on top of the leaderboard, and the shorter stacks of Maue (4.305 million), Samy Boujmala (3.675 million), and Arnaud Enselme (3.415 million).
With every man on the felt holding a viable stack, the early play was a bit tentative. However, that didn’t stop Maue from picking on the chip leader, Worthington-Leese. Maue would pull a rather large pot of 650K when he flopped two pair and turned a full house against the complete air that Worthington-Leese held (missed flush draw). Worthington-Leese would give away some more chips to Enselme before laying down a hand pre-flop against Maue after Maue four-bet him out of the action. Just like that, Worthington-Leese had dropped to the basement of the six-man pack.
Watson, on the other hand, was riding high. He would earn the first knockout of the day, taking down Enselme in sixth place when Watson’s pocket Jacks coolered Enselme’s pocket tens. But it was the only elimination in a three-hour timeframe, requiring the EPT officials to get a bit creative with the clock for the tournament. The EPT fluctuated the level times to pick up the pace of action on a couple of occasions, but it didn’t seem to affect the players.
Worthington-Leese made a climb back up the mountain, taking down Boujmala in fifth place when his A-Q outpipped Boujmala’s K-Q on a Queen-high board. It seemed to light a fire in the Brit as, once the action moved up to 100K/200K 200K BBA, he chopped a sizeable chunk of change from Haraldstad. It was Watson, however, who would take the rest of Haralstad’s chips when Watson flopped trip tens and turned a full house to send the Norwegian out in fourth place.
But There Can Be Only One…
With three players remaining, Watson (17.6 million) had pulled out to a significant lead over Maue (9.5 million) and Worthington-Leese (5.8 million). That would change quickly, however, as, once Haraldstad was on the rail, Maue and Worthington-Leese went to battle. With a flop of 9x 7♦ 3♦ on the very next hand, the chips went to the center with Worthington-Leese’s 10♦ 5♦ needing some help against Maue’s pocket Jacks. A five on the turn brought some more outs for Worthington-Leese, but the black six on the river wasn’t what he wanted as Worthington-Leese went to the sidelines in third place.
Watson (17.5 million) and Maue (15.425 million) were smart enough at this point to come to a decision on a deal. With his bigger stack, Watson picked up €716,085 and Maue earned €697,175. The duo decided to leave a bonus of €33,340 on the table along with the EPT Monte Carlo Main Event trophy for the eventual winner of their heads-up match.
Over the course of the nearly two-hour battle, Maue battled valiantly. He pulled into the lead immediately after the resumption of action, but a big double-up when Watson held a King kicker against Maue’s six after both paired the Queen put him behind by nearly 3:1. Maue didn’t roll over, however, fighting back from the deck and nearly drawing even after he flopped a Wheel to double up himself.
The big comeback was for naught, though. On the final hand, Watson hit a pair of tens on a 10-7-5-A flop and turn against the double gutter straight draw of Maue, and the plot thickened. A second seven on the river saw Maue make a bold move all-in, sending the Canadian to the think tank for a spell. Watson would use five of his time bank chips (an additional thirty seconds each) before he made the right call and captured his second EPT Main Event title.
1. Mike Watson (Canada), €749,425*
2. Leonard Maue (Austria), €697,175*
3. Leo Worthington-Leese (United Kingdom), €397,450
4. Joachim Haraldstad (Norway), €305,750
5. Samy Boujmala (France), €235,150
6. Arnaud Enselme (France), €180,900
7. Jason Wheeler (USA), €139,150**
8. Arunas Spapitavicius (Lithuania), €107,050**
(* – reflects final table deal)
(** – part of official EPT final table, eliminated on Friday)
With his victory, Watson becomes only the third player to ever win two EPT Main Event championships. In the storied history of the EPT, only Victoria Coren-Mitchell and Mikalai Pobal had previously achieved that feat. The current EPT Monte Carlo trophy will go on Watson’s bookcase beside his award for winning the 2016 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure title.