When the European Poker Tour rolled into Prague for the first time in 2007, a mere four events populated the schedule. Luckily for fans of the spot, the stop stuck, and by the time the 2010 edition of EPT Prague arrived, there were 16 events for players to choose from. One of the new ones added to the schedule that year would become a staple of EPT Prague and all other EPT events for years to come: the €10,300 High Roller.
As part three of our EPT Prague retrospective, we'll look back on the High Roller, which will run this year from Dec. 14-16 on be covered live by PokerNews.
2010: The First Three To Cash
At first, the High Roller was little more than a small side event, a minor playground for a few top pros and the rich. Just 26 players entered, creating a prize pool of €254,800, and just three of them would be paid.
The lack of fanfare and popularity of the tournament was accompanied, sadly, by a lack of media attention. At this time, all of the PokerNews coverage of the event focused on the €5,300 Main Event, so there's no data about how the tournament unfolded or who participated other than those who did make the paid positions.
When the dust had settled, Swedish player and former World Poker Tour runner-up Nichlas Mattsson defeated Irish pro John O'Shea for €127,000. O'Shea took home €76,000, while third-place finisher Alexander Luber got €51,800.
2011: Mike "Timex" McDonald Falls Short of Victory
The tournament returned for a second run as part of a 19-event schedule in 2011 and proved slightly more popular with a new reentry format. Forty-two unique entries were logged along with eight reentries for an even 50, creating a prize pool of €490,000.
A true star of the poker world made a run to the crown, but Mike "Timex" McDonald fell in second for €112,000. American John Andress took it down for €176,400, to date still the largest score in a career with $862,240 in winnings.
Others among the seven cashing included Philipp Gruissem (3rd - €68,600), Luke Schwartz (4th - €49,000), and Andrey Pateychuk (6th - €26,950).
2012: "Mad Marvin" Prevails
High Roller tournaments had gained some momentum in the poker community by the time the 2012 edition of EPT Prague arrived on the calendar, and 108 entries were recorded despite a switch to a single-reload format. This was also the first year the event would be covered by the PokerNews Live Reporting team.
Jason Mercier looked the favorite much of the way after bringing the big stack into Day 2, but a late beat derailed his momentum when Philippe Ktorza cracked Mercier's with the for a pot of more than 50 big blinds.
Mercier wound up busting in seventh the next day for €44,200, and when European legend Juha Helppi went down in third for €121,800, it left two of Germany's finest battling heads up — Marvin Rettenmaier and Fabian Quoss. After a back-and-forth match with roughly even stacks at the start, "Mad Marvin" prevailed for €365,300. Quoss got €210,300.
2013: Soshnikov Buries Busquet for the Win
The high-rolling community stepped it up once again in 2013 as 176 entries were logged in the EPT Prague High Roller. This time around, the prize pool was €1,724,800, of which the winner would claim €382,050.
By the time the tournament had wound down to the end of Day 2, 10 players remained and the tournament was already in the money with some of the heaviest hitting high rollers still in contention. Olivier Busquet sat in second, while Vanessa Selbst was in sixth and McDonald brought up the rear in 10th.
However, it was Russian player Ivan Soshnikov who battled from the ninth-place spot at the dawn of the final day to defeat Busquet heads up. Soshnikov was the recipient of an all-in bluff when he flopped top boat against Oleksii Khoroshenin to get headed in the right direction early. Three-handed, he managed to flop aces full with the against Busquet's and the latter was unable to get away from it. The good times continued from there for Soshnikov, who booked what's still his biggest cash to date.
2014: From Russia with Love, Again
If steady growth was the theme of the EPT Prague High Roller from 2010-2013, then 2014 was the year it had its growth spurt, shooting all the way up to 309 entries with a single-reentry eight-handed format. A record 39 players would receive cuts of the €3,028,200 prize pool.
A couple of rising European stars contended for the win, as British pro Simon Deadman and German crusher Ole Schemion found themselves among the final table. They clashed in the most classic of races with Deadman's overcoming Schemion's pocket queens six-handed, crippling the German and leading to his subsequent elimination for €141,420. Deadman went down in fourth for €238,320, prompting a deal between the final three players.
Andrey Zaichenko, Laurynas Levinskas, and Francois Billard each banked more than €400,000 in the chop, setting aside €39,000. Russia would rule for the second straight year, as Zaichenko took the mantle from Soshnikov when he beat Levinskas heads up courtesy of a spiked two-outer with the against he .
That concludes PokerNews' three-part retrospective on EPT Prague, one of the rocks of the EPT schedule. Be sure to check out the other two if you haven't already done so: The City's First Big, Bad €50,000 Super High Roller and Main Event Shines in Czech Republic's Capital.