Now Live EPT Malta888Live Festival London EPT Monte Carlo High Roller Championship, Day 1: Alaei on Top

Daniel Alaei

While the EPT Grand Final wound its way through the third day of action at the Monte Carlo Bay Hotel and Resort, the EPT Monte Carlo High Roller Championship got underway Friday afternoon. A total of 79 high rollers put up the €25,000 buy-in for this one, making for a total prize pool of €1,975,000. When play completed late Friday, American Daniel Alaei sat atop the leaderboard as the only player with more than 300,000 chips, followed by Florian Langmann of Germany.

The starting field at thei European Poker Tour stop included a number of familiar names, including Barry Greenstein, Dave “Devilfish” Ulliott, Bruno Fitoussi, Daniel Negreanu, Erik Seidel, Dan Shak, Peter Eastgate, Tony G, Phil Ivey, Vanessa Rousso, Juha Helppi, Mike McDonald, Gus Hansen, Alexander Kostritsyn, Ilari “Ziigmund” Sahamies, John Juanda, Ivan Demidov, Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier, Andy Bloch, James Mackey, and Chris “Jesus” Ferguson.

Players began with stacks of 50,000 chips and blinds of 50/100, meaning everyone had a whopping 500 big blinds to start the day. Grospellier and Alaei quickly began building on those starting stacks, with Tony G and Langmann following suit. For a time, Langmann held the chip lead with over 140,000 late in the afternoon.

Daniel Negreanu struggled through the afternoon before finally being eliminated after having lost most of his stack in a hand versus Gus Hansen. After a ten-high flop, Hansen deliberated for a while before pushing all in. Negreanu called with A-10, only to find himself up against Hansen’s pocket queens. Hansen’s hand held up, and Negreanu lost the rest of the 2,000 or so he had remaining shortly thereafter. As play moved into the early evening, Seidel, Ivey, Fitoussi, among others followed Negreanu to the rail.

Meanwhile, Hungarian Sandor Demjan pushed out past 180,000 and into the chip lead, with Andrew Lichtenberger, Ilari Sahamies, and Tony G close behind. Then Andy Bloch charged ahead, and for a while Bloch was the only player with more than 200,000 chips before falling back to the pack.

As Day 1 neared its conclusion, 2008 WSOP Main Event champion Peter Eastgate’s up-and-down day finally came to an end in a hand versus 2006 WSOP Main Event third-place finisher Michael Binger. After an initial opening raise by Dave “Devilfish” Ulliott, Binger reraised to 14,000 from the cutoff and Eastgate called from the button. Ulliott folded, and the flop came single-suited — {Q-Spades}{4-Spades}{9-Spades}. Binger checked, Eastgate shoved all in for approximately 80,000, and Binger called.

It turned out neither player cared much for those spades, as Binger showed {Q-Clubs}{Q-Hearts} for top set, while Eastgate was drawing thin with {A-Hearts}{A-Diamonds}. The turn was the {5-Spades}, giving Eastgate some more outs to chop, but river was the {K-Clubs} and Eastgate was gone.

One last big pot won by Alaei pushed him past Langmann and into the chip lead. The hand began with Yevginiy Timoshenko open-raising, then Alaei reraised. Sandor Demjan called the reraise, then Timoshenko pushed all in for 36,200 more. Alaei thought about it, then reshoved all in over the top, and Demjan came along, too. Timoshenko showed {A-Hearts}{K-Spades}, Alaei {J-Diamonds}{J-Clubs}, and Demjan {A-Clubs}{Q-Spades}. The board came {9-Spades}{10-Clubs}{5-Hearts}{5-Clubs}{4-Spades}, Alaei’s jacks had held, and two more players were ousted.

A total of 37 players still had chips when play ended late Friday night. Here’s how the top ten looks heading into Saturday’s Day 2:

Daniel Alaei (USA) — 302,100
Florian Langmann (Germany) — 230,800
Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier (France) — 194,600
Juha Helppi (Finland) — 192,200
Roberto Romanello (Wales) — 180,400
Dan Shak (USA) — 175,300
Tony G (Lithuania) — 155,100
John Kabbaj (England) — 145,300
James Mackey (USA) — 144,600
William Thorson (Sweden) — 140,300

Other notables still in action include Michael Binger (12th), Ilari “Ziigmund” Sahamies (17th), Dave “Devilfish” Ulliott (20th), Vanessa Rousso (21st), Chris “Jesus” Ferguson (23rd), Barry Greenstein (28th), Andy Bloch (29th), Shaun Deeb (33rd), and Thomas Wahlroos (36th).

Play begins again on Saturday at noon Monte Carlo time, when players begin to work their way down to the final table. Be sure to follow all of the action here at PokerNews to see who claims the €720,000 first prize as the EPT Monte Carlo High Rollers Champion.

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