Players had till the start of Day 2 of the 2016 PokerStars and Monte-Carlo® Casino EPT Grand Final to sign up, and several players bought back in to give it one more $100,000 spin. Sergey Lebedev, coming fresh from a third place finish in the €10,000 High Roller here in Monaco, was one of only two new players. The other was Fedor, who finished 4th in that same event and also won the qualifier to get in for cheap.
That made for a total of 61 entries, 46 unique players and 15 reentries. Down 10 compared to last years 71 entries, but still a very big prize pool to fight for. No players reentered more than once, so everyone was guaranteed to make money if they would finish in the top 8 (€236,750). First place is to receive €1,775,500.
Starting out as the shortest stack in the room was PokerStars Team Pro Daniel Negreanu with just 52,000. When he doubled in the first hand of the day, he patted himself on the back for not just pushing all in at the end of Day 1. Despite getting back to a stack worth tweeting about, it wouldn't do him much good in the end. He was down and out before the first level was done when he ran jacks into the turned set of Chidwick.
Dan Shak was out just before Negreanu, having run nines into tens. Before the prize pool was even confirmed Haxton, Quoss, Raouf, Peters, Petrangelo and Thomas Muehloecker had already made their exit.
One of the biggest pots of the tournament was a remarkable one. After a hijack open from Juanda and a three bet from cutoff Max Silver, it was Dario Sammartino four betting from the button. Both blinds and Juanda wanted nothing to do with it and folded. Silver then five bet and Sammartino six bet shoved for 700,000 total. Silver made the call holding kings, Sammartino showed five-three suited. He flopped a flush draw and pair, and turned a gutshot, but the poker Gods had mercy on Silver and the river bricked, leaving Sammartino short stacked. Sammartino, who was a key figure in a remarkable hand in this very event last year as well, was left short and wouldn't make a comeback busting not much later.
Despite all the money at stake, players busted out left and right and the tournament was down to 24 players before the level bell had rang for the fourth time. As the redraw at 16 came closer, Ali Reza Fatehi emerged as chipleader. The newcomer to the high roller circuit was active in a lot of pots, and showed the goods in most of them. He had found the right time to run hot, and collected big pots at least once an orbit. Stanley Choi sent his chips to him and Max Silver, the one time chip leader, also wasn't able to hold on to his chips in a clash with Fatehi.
The likes of Dan Smith, Mike Watson and Charlie Carrel busted and before you knew it the tournament was down to its last two tables. Sergey Lebedev, Salman Behbehani, Bryn Kenney and Christoph Vogelsang made their exits. The last two of that list shipped their stacks to Ali Reza Fatehi who crossed the 4 million mark at this point.
After the dinner break Byron Kaverman quickly made his exit after running kings into aces. Living legends John Juanda (ace queen against ten nine, nine on the flop) and last years EPT Grand Final Super High Roller champ Erik Seidel (ace queen into ace king) followed him out the door. The tournament was down to its last table of nine players, with 8 players getting in the money.
Full ring action went on for quite some time as the big stacks avoided each other and the shorties just prayed the other would go out. In the end it was current EPT Player of the Year frontrunner Mike McDonald bubbling in 9th place. He was down to just a couple of blinds when he got it in with deuces against Schemion's king-jack. Schemion hit a king to send McDonald packing.
Ali Reza Fatehi, who slowed down a bit when the final two tables phase was reached, leads with 5,180,000 in chips. Stephen Chidwick starts second in chips with 2,920,000 in chips. Fellow Brit Paul Newey starts out the shortest stack, beginning the final table with exactly the starting stack of 250,000.
Tomorrow's final table will have a cards face up live stream on a 1-hour delay. Play starts at 1pm local time, PokerNews coverage will start at 2pm. There are 48 minutes remaining on Level 25 (25,000/50,000 with a 5,000 ante). The remaining 8 players will battle it out for the following prizes: