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Five Thoughts: EPT London, WPT Announces the 2014 Schedule, PPC Aruba, and More

Five Thoughts: EPT London, WPT Announces the 2014 Schedule, PPC Aruba, and More 0001

Five Thoughts is on the road again this week as I’m in London for the second stop of Season 10 of the PokerStars European Poker Tour. It’s the second time this year the EPT has visited the capital city of the United Kingdom – Ruben Visser took down the EPT9 London Main Event, earning £595,000 and the first EPT title for the Netherlands since 2009, when Pieter De Korver won the Season 6 EPT Grand Final Main Event.

This season’s festival kicked off with the first ever PokerStars-sponsored super high roller in London, and the winner, runner-up, and third-place finisher in the £50,000 buy-in event were, unsurprisingly, all German.

Martin Finger shipped the event, earning £821,000, and finishing right behind him were Tobias Reinkemeier (£593,900) and Christoph Vogelsang (£383,200). Also making the final table was fellow German Johannes Strassman, who took fifth for £224,400.

Since time is of the essence on the road, let’s hop right into the first thought.

1. Ze Germans Go One, Two, and Three Again

Just a week after three Germans went one-two-three in the World Championship of Online Poker Main Event, the Germans dominated the EPT London Super High Roller. In total, the four Germans earned over £2 million ($3.22 million).

Another German, Philipp Gruissem, made headlines for unsuccessfully firing four bullets in the event. On his fourth and final bullet, the man known as “philbort” lost a 75-big blind pot with {a-}{k-} against {a-}{a-}, earning nothing off of his £200,000 investment.

It’s not confirmed, but it’s fair to assume that Gruissem wouldn’t have fired so many bullets had his other friends been eliminated as well during Day 1. It’s widely known that he, Reinkemeier, Igor Kurganov, and Fabian Quoss share pieces of one another, and the latter three reached Day 2 on their first and only bullet.

Also making the final table was Bill Perkins, who also fired more than one bullet. Perkins finished in fourth place, earning £290,100, and with his third-place finish in the World Series of Poker $111,111 One Drop High Roller, he now has over $2.4 million in winnings in 2013.

While the numbers in the EPT10 London Main Event were down from Season 9 and 8, the super high roller numbers were superb. With 41 unique entrants and 57 total entrants, the total prize pool climbed to £2,736,866 ($4,358,732). This prize pool is larger than that of the EPT10 Barcelona Super High Roller ($3,275,677), the inaugural WPT Alpha 8 event ($2,026,500), the 2012 WSOPE Majestic High Roller ($3,757,388). The event also attracted Haralabos Voulgaris, who is very selective in the tournaments he plays.

For continuing coverage of the EPT10 Main Event, head on over to the PokerNews Live Reporting Page. Coverage of the £10,000+300 High Roller will begin on Thursday.

2. World Poker Tour Announces Schedule

On Monday, the World Poker Tour announced the remainder of its Season XII schedule, which includes seven Main Tour stops and nine additional WPT® Regional and WPT® National events around the world.

For a look at the entire schedule, check here.

The WPT will be visiting the great Garden State of New Jersey twice in 2014. Both stops will be held at the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa, the Borgata Winter Poker Open in January and the season-ending WPT World Championship in May. The buy-in for the championship event has been reduced from $25,000 to $15,400 after the field size shrunk from to 220 to 152, to 146.

The reduced buy-in is a very smart move that will certainly increase the field size. This tactic has already worked with some of the other WPT Main Tour stops, specifically in Europe, and on the World Series of Poker Circuit. In today’s poker economy, with large events every month, players are always looking for value. This $10,000 reduction will have a positive impact on players’ wallets, but the event will still have a very large prize pool and a star-studded field.

The WPT is also returning to Florida in April for another $10 million guarantee at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood. In August, this event crushed the eight-figure guarantee, but I have concerns about the timing of the sequel. First, April is a jam-packed month. EPT Sanremo is scheduled for April 6-16, the PokerStars and Monte-Carlo® Casino EPT Grand Final is slated for April 23-May3, and, per the banners hung at the Rio this summer, the World Series of Poker Asia-Pacific will take place from April 4-16. By the looks of it, this $10 million guarantee would compete directly with the EPT Sanremo Main Event and the WSOP APAC Main Event.

One of the reasons the first $10 million guarantee was so successful is because it was in August, one of the quietest months on the poker calendar.

Also, this event doesn’t feel as special as the first because it will be less than a year later. I think that the WPT should’ve just kept it in August, using it as an exciting kickoff to the next season and taking advantage of the quiet month.

Grinders in Florida like Mukul Pahuja, who finished third in the $10 million guarantee, have to be excited about the schedule – three of the Main Tour stops are in the Sunshine State in 2014.

I’m excited for the second half of the season, especially all of the love New Jersey is getting, and I am interested to see what will happen with the big guarantee.

3. Kazemieh Wins 2013 PPC Aruba World Championship

The 2013 Players Poker Championship Aruba World Championship $2,500 Main Event concluded on Tuesday, and Robin Kazemieh and Joe Ebanks struck a heads-up deal. Kazemieh took home $59,139, Ebanks $50,861, and 2012 PPC Aruba World Championship winner Joe Serock finished in third place, earning $26,000.

Final Table Results

1Robin Kazemieh$59,139*
2Joe Ebanks$50,861*
3Joe Serock$26,000
4RJ Sullivan$18,000
5David Tuthill$14,000
6Andy Seth$11,000
7Sterling Savill$9,000
8Ryan Franklin$7,000
9Stephen Sindler$5,000

*Denotes a heads-up deal.

No final hand was played between the two players. Ebanks was losing ground during most of the heads-up battle, but eventually doubled back to bring the stacks closer to even. Then, the two struck a deal, shook hands, and the tournament was over.

For Ebanks, this is his largest score since November of 2011 where he finished sixth in the Master Classics of Poker in Amsterdam. Earlier in 2011, he won his first and only WSOP bracelet in a $10,000 six-handed event, earning $1.16 million. Kazemieh already took down a tournament in 2013, winning a C$150 side event in the Full Tilt Poker Montreal festival for C$4,000. He also finished second in the first 2013 PPC Aruba event — a $550 no-limit hold'em event with a $40,000 guarantee — for $9,574.

Reducing the buy-in from $3,300 to $2,500 nearly tripled the field from 31 to 88, and the prize pool increased by nearly $110,000. More importantly, it’s hard to beat the weather in Aruba in October. While London might be a better poker destination with the EPT, you can’t enjoy a Frozen Rhumba in 90-degree weather on The Mall.

The PPC understands the demographic of poker player that their product aims to reach, which is the serious, but recreational player and being able to provide that player type with a world-class poker tournament experience in a fascinating destination like Aruba. Given then growth witnessed and the feedback received through PokerNews Editor-in-Chief Donnie Peters who was on site for the event, the PPC has a strong product that their customers really enjoy. They also have the advantage of being close to Florida, and as poker grows in the Sunshine State, so too will live satellites.

4. Merson, Brown, and Childs go All in For Wishes

On Saturday, the Empire State Plaza Convention Center in Albany, New York, will host the fourth annual All in For Wishes tournament. Benefitting the Make-A-Wish Foundation for Northeast New York, the $200 buy-in charity event will feature a guaranteed $10,000 first-place prize, and 2012 WSOP Main Event champion Greg Merson, Team PokerStars Pro Chad Brown, and 2007 WSOP Main Event finalist Lee Childs will be attending the event.

Childs who has participated in this event in the past, told PokerNews, “The All in for Wishes charity poker tournament is the best-run, most-fun charity poker tournament I have ever been a part of.”

Merson tweeted the following about the event on Wednesday:

Greg MersonCome join me this Saturday at All in for Wishes event in Albany, NY. I wouldn't be here if I didn't have a dream and kids deserve the same!

Merson and Brown will host a one-hour, semi-private class for the first 20 players who reserve a slot. The $100 seminar (all proceeds will go directly to the Make-A-Wish of Northeast New York) will take place from 9:30 – 10:30 a.m. prior to the Main Event.

Make-A-Wish is a wonderful foundation, and I am always moved by their features on ESPN during the start of the NFL season. The company seems to go above and beyond expectations to provide sick children with life-changing events, and this poker tournament will not only raise money for the organization, it will also give recreational players a chance to rub elbows with professionals that they’ve watched on television.

In 2012, the event attracted 87 paid entries, generating a prize pool of $22,200. The structure is “amazing” according to Childs, unlike most charity poker tournaments, and features a 10,000-chip starting stack with rebuys and add-ons.

For more information on the event, you can head to their website. I hope that the attendants have a great time, and I thank Merson, Brown, and Childs for representing such a worthwhile cause.

5. Runner Runner Falls Short of Expectations

Let me preface this by saying that I have not yet seen Runner Runner (our own Chad Holloway was at the premiere, recapping the event and reviewing the movie), but I will see it once I return to the U.S.

The movie, starring Ben Affleck and Justin Timberlake, was projected to make $11 million in the U.S. during the opening weekend, but only earned $7.6 million. Outside of the U.S., it generated $23.5 million. The New Regency film cost $30 million to make.

Business Insider entertainment reporter Kirsten Acuna says, “it was easy for the film to get lost since it was directly competing for the same audience as Warner Bros.’ tentpole Gravity this weekend.”

Gravity grossed $55.5 million over the weekend, leading all movies.

Along with the poor showing at the box office, the reviews for Runner Runner have been equally bad. Rotten Tomatoes rated the movie 8% on the Tomatometer – which are roughly the odds of hitting a runner-runner flush against an overpair – imdb gave it 5.4 stars out of 10, and the film receive a “C” CinemaScore from viewers.

Like I said, I haven’t seen the movie yet so I will hold off on my review, but on the surface I don’t think it deserves an eight out of 100. Movies are all about expectations, and if you walk into Runner Runner expecting to see Die Hard, you’re going to be disappointed. Conversely, if you go expecting to see Fast & Furious, then the movie will most likely be entertaining.

Things are going to be blowing up. People are going to be running. Guns will be shot. If you’re looking for a great narrative, go watch Forrest Gump.

It’s likely that the industry is looking for an excuse to poorly grade Affleck, Timberlake, and producer Leonardo DiCaprio. That trio is uber successful, and anytime the haters get an opportunity to hate, they will do so.

I will return stateside at the end of October, and when I do I will include my review here in Five Thoughts.

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