2018 PokerStars and Monte-Carlo©Casino EPT

Feature Coverage
Day: 4

Feature Coverage

Day 4 Completed

€1,100 EPT National: Mrakes Leads, Lew and Vrakas Among Final 24

Can Georgios Vrakas achieve a stunning third National victory?
Can Georgios Vrakas achieve a stunning third National victory?

It took two days to whittle a gigantic field of 1,501 players in the €1,100 EPT National down to the final 24. The players duked it out all day in the cash game room of Le Sporting at the Monte Carlo Bay Hotel & Resort and broke down to 24 shortly before the end of the day. After the redraw took place, just a few more hands were played until chips were bagged for the night.

Michal Mrakes was the one walking away with the biggest stack of them all (6,070,000). Despite his commanding lead, the chipleader was the first to put things into perspective.

"I was just really lucky. I didn't need any skills, I really mean it," Mrakes told PokerNews.

"I hit my two-outer twice, four-outer once, I won three-way all in with jack-nine suited against pocket eights and ace-nine. Twice, I had aces into kings. If you run like this, anybody can be chipleader and you don't need any skills. Oh, I forgot to mention I twice flopped a straight against a set from a big stack, we got it in and I held twice. This was definitely the luckiest day I've ever had," Mrakes said.

Team PokerStars Pro Online Randy "nanonoko" Lew extended on his good run from Day 1 and made the final 24 with 2,010,000, good enough for the eight place overall after two full days.

"I've been practicing a lot and I think it's paying off," the Team PokerStars Pro said about his tournament game to PokerNews.

"I pretty much maintained a big stack throughout the whole tournament so far. I just played really and I never really got short. I was usually around double average stack in the tournament," the online cashgame machine added.

Asked whether he's a tournament pro now, Lew laughed heartedly: "Not until I win."

I feel like I just want to be a better tournament player. I think I can have much better results and I kind of want to prove myself that I can do that first, then figure out what to do next," he concluded.

Randy Lew
Team PokerStars Pro Online Randy Lew

Next to Mrakes and Lew, the name of Georgios Vrakas stands out among the final 24. Vrakas might be considered the world's premier specialist when it comes to these National events, after winning last year's €1,100 National Championship in Prague (€338,000) and the €2,200 National High Roller in Barcelona (€330,000). A third win in the span of just eight months would put Vrakas in unmatched territory at these midstakes tournaments. To achieve the improbable, Vrakas has to come from behind, as his stack of 1,150,000 puts him in the bottom tier of the leaderboard.

Other players that made their way to the final day include Federico Petruzzelli (5,685,000), French pros Gaelle Baumann (3,345,000) and Guillaume Diaz (2,050,000), as well as PokerStars Festival London High Roller winner and Platinum Pass owner Dragos Trofimov (1,175,000). They'll all return on Saturday at noon local time with blinds at 25,000/50,000 and play down until the winner is crowned.

€1,100 EPT National Day 3 Seating and Chip Counts

TableSeatPlayerCountryChip CountBig Blinds
11Aleksei IstominRussia775,00016
12Yurii ChernenkoUkraine670,00013
13Randy LewUnited States2,010,00040
14Abraham PassetGermany1,290,00026
15Guillaume DiazFrance2,050,00041
16Sufragiu SorinFrance1,345,00027
17Jacques Der MegreditchianFrance920,00018
18Pascal TriboletFrance935,00019
21Gaelle BaumannFrance3,345,00067
22Dragos TrofimovMoldova1,175,00024
23Victor Ilyukhin JRUnited Kingdom1,800,00036
24Jonathan ProudfootUnited Kingdom1,170,00023
25Samy BoutalebFrance2,160,00043
26Ionut Laurentiu TrifuRomana1,735,00035
27Jeremy PalviniFrance1,500,00030
28Laszlo BarthiFrance1,555,00031
31Clemente Malheiro CarreiraPortugal600,00012
32Federico PetruzzelliItaly5,685,000114
33Michal MrakesCzech Republic6,070,000121
34Giuseppe La GuardiaItaly1,359,00027
35Abdullatif AttiaFrance2,210,00044
36Danilo CangianielloItaly1,065,00021
37Fred WeissFrance2,425,00049
38Georgios VrakasGreece1,150,00023

Tags: Federico PetruzzelliGaelle BaumannGeorgios VrakasMichal MrakesRandy Lew

55 Players Survive as €2,200 EPT National High Roller Concludes First Day

Leo Margets is in 5th place after Day 1
Leo Margets is in 5th place after Day 1

After 15 levels of 40 minutes each, Day 1 of the €2,200 EPT National High Roller at the 2018 PokerStars and Monte-Carlo©Casino EPT has concluded its first of two days. 358 players showed up for the bigger buy-in National event, with 104 of them opting for a reentry to create a total field of 462 players a €924,000 prize pool and a first place prize of €173,000.

Chipleader after the first day is Matous Houžvicek of the Czech Republic, putting the Czechs in the lead in both National events. Houžvicek bagged 494,000, plenty more than Mamouni Smain (442,000) and Dario Sammartino (407.500). Spain's Leo Margets had a strong showing as well, ending the day in 5th place with 367,000 in chips.

Jack Salter, who was the chipleader throughout the early stages of the day, sits in 9th with 258,000. Other notables that made it through included EPT12 Grand Final winner Jan Bendik (224,000), online wizard Conor Beresford (223,500), Rainer Kempe (121,500) and Jose "Nacho" Barbero (94,000).

Saturday at 12:30 p.m. local time, the remaining players will return to play down until a winner is crowned, promising a long day ahead. Their seating and chip counts for Day 2 are as follows;

€2,200 EPT National Day 2 Seating and Chip Counts

TableSeatPlayerCountryChip CountBig Blinds
11Alexandre ReardFrance205,50041
12Mikhail SoltanovRussian Federation160,00032
13Ville Tapio SissonenFinland76,00015
14Dmitry ShchepkinRussian Federation259,50052
15Benjamin SaadaFrance389,00078
16Chen An LinTaiwan, Province of China89,50018
17Malek GrabsiFrance155,00031
18Lily KilettoUnited States231,00046
21Massou CohenFrance54,50011
23Franck MakaciFrance212,00042
24Leonardo ParmiggianiItaly216,00043
25Joseph SabeFrance124,00025
26Arseniy MeshcheryakovRussian Federation112,00022
27Jan BendikSlovakia224,00045
28Dmitriy ShilnikovRussian Federation61,00012
31Antonio Angel Ponce GuiraoSpain84,00017
32Franz DitzGermany141,00028
33Hani El AssaadLebanon138,00028
34Jack SalterUnited Kingdom258,00052
35Christopher ChaudeyFrance122,00024
36Honglin JiangUnited Kingdom207,50042
37Leo MargetsSpain367,00073
38Dario SammartinoItaly407,50082
41Arthur ConanFrance37,0007
42Ran AzorIsrael212,00042
43Rainer KempeGermany121,50024
44Fady KamarLebanon76,00015
45Loic MenneteauFrance39,5008
46Jeffrey HakimLebanon165,00033
47Thomas PetterssonSweden93,00019
48Yorane KerignardFrance164,00033
51Dan DjornoFrance206,50041
52Mamouni SmainCanada442,00088
53Daniel Robert MontagnolliAustria61,00012
54Chaofei WangChina157,50032
55Sirzat HissouGermany61,50012
56Xiaojie ChengChina326,00065
57George AnaRomania116,00023
58Yin LiuChina229,50046
61Aviv MeirIsrael70,50014
62Danny CovynBelgium72,00014
63Benny GlaserUnited Kingdom95,00019
64Raffaele CarnevaleItaly139,50028
65Conor BeresfordUnited Kingdom223,50045
66Karim AbdelmoumeneFrance70,00014
67Dinesh AltSwitzerland353,00071
68Tiziano Di RomualdoItaly55,00011
71Julian ThomasGermany117,00023
72Paul TheobaldGermany101,00020
73Matous HoužvicekCzech Republic491,00098
74Colin RobinsonUnited States165,50033
75Nacho BarberoArgentina94,00019
76Francesco DelfocoItaly90,00018
77Thierry GogniatFrance85,00017
78Isabel BaltazarFrance228,00046

Tags: Conor BeresfordDario SammartinoJack SalterJan BendikLeo MargetsMamouni SmainMatous HoužvicekNacho BarberoRainer Kempe

Loaded Final Six to Battle for €1.5 Million in Monte Carlo €100K

Christoph Vogelsang
Christoph Vogelsang

High-stakes assassin Christoph Vogelsang has worked himself into pole position to add €1.5 million and another super high roller title to his list of poker accomplishments.

The silent, scarf-clad German has the chip lead with the streamed final table of six set in the €100K Super High Roller at 2018 PokerStars and Monte-Carlo©Casino EPT He holds a hair over 3 million in chips with blinds and antes at 10,000/25,000/25,000.

Vogelsang entered as one of the top stacks and stayed there for most of the day before taking a commanding advantage late when ace-king held against a massive three-bet shove from Mikita Badziakouski, who had a dominated ace-ten.

Vogelsang may have been due for success here as the former Super High Roller Bowl champ has come up mostly empty in the past in the PokerStars Monte Carlo high rollers with just one min-cash in a €25K.

The road forward is almost sure to be difficult, as he's facing four fellow superstars in Sam Greenwood (2,065,000), Isaac Haxton (1,680,000), Ole Schemion (1,490,000) and Justin Bonomo (1,045,000). The final player advancing into the money — the bubble also burst — is Iranian high roller Ali Reza Fatehi.

While observers will doubtless tag him the underdog, Fatehi has the chips — a solid stack of 1,840,000 — and has shown he can compete before when he had less experience than he does now.

"Of course [I'm excited]," he said. "Two years ago, in the very first tournament I played, I got third here."

Indeed, that cash was worth €828,500, still the best he's booked. He can do better than that on Saturday with a top-two placing. Fatehi also recently tasted victory at a high roller event in Cyprus, although this task will naturally be far taller, with the rewards far greater.

Fatehi was nearly cooked in one of the first big hands of the day when he got in there with sevens and had two outs against the kings of Timothy Adams. He found a seven in the window and the spin was on.

Ali Reza Fatehi
Ali Reza Fatehi looks to better his third-place result from this event in 2016.

Later, Fatehi busted Julian Thomas with aces against ace-ten. He then found the call button with top pair, top kicker holding ace-jack when Badziakouski tried check-shoving the river with a total ace-king airball and Fatehi called off to double.

What looked like it could be an extended bubble — the average stack was 62 big blinds — burst when Fatehi stuck around with four-two of hearts and backdoors a flush when Jan Schwippert three-barreled. The German bet most of his stack on the river and sent his hand to the muck after calling off his last crumbs.

The final table gets rolling at noon local time here in Monaco, with the live stream starting a bit after that. Someone will be taking home €1,520,000, so come back to PokerNews for more feature coverage of the festival and head over to the PokerStars Blog for hand history updates of the final table if you can't tune in to the stream.

SeatPlayerCountryChip Count
1Ali Reza FatehiIran1,840,000
2Ole SchemionGermany1,490,000
3Christoph VogelsangGermany3,020,000
4Isaac HaxtonUnited States1,680,000
5Sam GreenwoodCanada2,065,000
6Justin BonomoUnited States1,405,000

Tags: Ali Reza FatehiChristoph Vogelsang

48 Left in €1,100 EPT National, Petruzzelli Moving Away

Jason Wheeler
Jason Wheeler

At the end of level 22, the EPT €1,100 National is down to its last 48 hopefuls, who already have locked up €4,200. Federico Petruzzelli has claimed the chip lead and sits on top with 2,700,000, followed by Dragos Trofimov (2,100,000), Ionut Trifu (1,800,000) and Michal Mrakes (1,700,000).

Alexandre Le Vaillant (1,400,000), Gaelle Baumann (1,250,000), Antona Pierre (1,100,000), Guillaume Diaz (1,050,000), Thomas Muehloecker (750,000) and Jason Wheeler (550,000) are also still in contention for the first place prize of €250,000. They'll be playing ten levels of 60 minutes each today before chips are bagged for the night.

Registration Closed in €2,200 High Roller; Salter Runaway Chipleader, Winner Receives €173,000

Jack Salter & Celina Lin
Jack Salter & Celina Lin

With eight levels of 40 minutes in and the dinner break just done, late registration has now closed for the €2,200 EPT National High Roller. A total of 462 entries has been made, including 104 reentries. With 211 players left, the field has shed just over half its players.

There are plenty of familiar faces across the room, including some of the players that played the (Super) High Rollers such as Rainer Kempe, Orpen Kisacikoglu, Mustapha Kanit, Markus Durnegger, Ryan Riess, Dominik Nitsche, Maria Ho, Steffen Sontheimer, Steve O'Dwyer and Igor Kurganov. Jack Sinclair, Raffaele Sorrentino, Maria Lampropulos and Morten Mortensen are also still in contention. Runaway chipleader in the early stages is Jack Salter, having amassed already over 200,000, which is ten starting stacks. Other players on top of the counts are Alexandre Reard (140,000) and Dario Sammartino (100,000).

Kurganov was seated at the same table as his partner Liv Boeree, but the Russian Team PokerStars Pro had to make his way to the rail shortly after the dinner break. Holding {A-}{J-}, Kurganov got his final chips in against {A-}{Q-} and was eliminated after both a queen and a jack landed.

The 462 players created a total prize pool of €924,000 and 71 players will finish in the money. The min-cash is worth €3,400, but all eyes will be on the first place prize of €175,000. The complete list of payouts is as follows:

€1,100 EPT National Payouts

PlacePrize (in €)PlacePrize (in €)
Liv Boeree
Liv Boeree

PokerStars Tournament Director Explains Big Blind Ante Decisions

EPT Tournament Director Toby Stone
EPT Tournament Director Toby Stone

"Antes please."

It's a familiar drumroll resonating in the ears of all tournament players worldwide. Posting an ante on top of the blinds has been around for decades and a staple at every major poker tournament around the world. However, the traditional system wasn't without its flaws, as recently pointed out in an article on PokerNews regarding the subject.

In short, antes slow the pace down, provide a logistical problem by having to keep smaller denomination chips in play and often force players into tedious changing processes just to be able to post the ante.

Despite the issues, the "everyone posts their ante" rule survived unscathed throughout the years, stemming from a purist background of everyone having a piece of proverbial skin in every hand. That is until recently, when the poker community decided to start moving away from the traditional ante, instead favoring the big blind or the button to pony up a round of antes at once.

A recent poll on Twitter showed the community is still very divided on the subject. With more than 1,000 responses to the question whether the big blind ante, button ante or traditional ante is preferred, 31 percent indicated a preference for the big blind, 30 percent said button ante was favored, while 39 percent stuck to their guns and rather had the old-fashioned way of posting.

Poker writer Marc Convey has a clear preference: the big blind ante.

"The big blind ante and the shot clock both speed up play, you also see players interact more," Convey said. "The big blind ante is better than the button ante for two reason. First, you have just two people needing to put chips in as opposed to three. And secondly, the big blind is always in play. Sometimes, you have a dead button; then what are you going to do?"

Big Blind Ante

PokerStars introduces big blind ante at major events

After trying it out at earlier events and receiving positive feedback, the big blind ante format has been implemented at every no limit hold'em tournament at the 2018 PokerStars and Monte-Carlo©Casino EPT. To ask about this big change, we spoke with EPT Monte Carlo tournament director Toby Stone to inquire about the change and why the big blind ante is preferred over other ways of anteing.

"The big blind ante has been introduced at every NL hold'em event at the Monte Carlo EPT, as well as the Barcelona EPT and we're working on getting it in Prague as well," Stone said. "We've got two PokerStars festivals coming up in Marbella and Lille — for those events we've just decided to introduce it on the key events, the Main Event, High Roller and the Cup.

"The reason is that at those events, that level of player is a bit less professional than here, the big blind ante hasn't filtered down to that level of play yet, it needs a little bit of time to work its way down. We imagine we'll do it on all events in the future, but we're willing to change depending on the feedback we get."

Toby Stone
EPT Tournament Director Toby Stone explains the change to the big blind ante

On why the change to the big blind ante format was chosen, Stone said:

"There are a few reasons we're doing this. One, it takes time for the dealer to collect the antes. Every single hand without collecting the ante saves a couple of seconds that saves you a minute or two per hour, giving players one, two, three more hands per hour. From an organizational perspective, it's also a little less wear on the dealer. They don't have to collect every ante every hand. They work long hours and it's a quite tiring job, and it a little less wear on them, so it's natural to do it for them as well.

Also, we do it for the players. They don't have to constantly think, 'put your ante, put your ante.' It should increase the enjoyment of those players as well by not having to constantly think about it. It's less work for them, less activity for them. They can have a conversation or check on their phone instead of having the dealer pounding on the table, 'hey, post your ante.' It makes for a more fluid game."

With the response to the Twitter poll being divided, it's clear the poker community hasn't settled on a consensus yet regarding the ante format. While the big blind ante seems to be the one spreading, some events have used the button ante.

Why did PokerStars go with the big blind?

"We settled on the big blind because you can only be the big blind once," he said. "You can never be the big blind twice. However, you can get the button twice. Now, if you're the button twice, we can't force you to pay the ante twice. That's not right.

"It's a little bit purer to the game, and that's really the key reason we have the big blind ante over the button ante."

Speaking of purity, another massive debate that raged was between whether players should post their ante or big blind first, with outspoken stances on both sides of the aisle. Posting the ante first has been the traditional way of posting since, well, ever, but at PokerStars events, this has been changed to a big-blind-before-ante format. Stone laughed heartedly when we inquired about this change.

"I tell you a true story," he said. "When I was first asked [about whether to post the ante or big blind first], I was like 'well, it has to be the ante.' It has to be the ante, because everybody pays their ante first, that's what it was before. I'm a bit of a purist when it comes to poker. And the argument against that, obviously, if [a player] is just all in for the ante, he can only win that money back, not any more money. From a purist level, that would actually be correct, if you take into consideration what we've been doing in the past.

"On an enjoyment level for the players, it's horrific that you can get down to such a low amount of only winning your money back. It's really not good. Then I kind of changed my view and decided: well, I'm not going to look at it and take the history why the ante is there and why we changed it."

Toby Stone
EPT Tournament Director Toby Stone

Positive feedback from the players

PokerStars has received positive feedback about the change to the big blind ante from the players. Team PokerStars Pro Fatima Moreira de Melo played her first ever big blind ante tournament in last night's €1,100 EPT National Day 1c turbo and instantly fell in love with it.

"It's super chill!" Moreira de Melo laughed right away.

The change to the big blind ante format does create an interesting new dynamic, as players feel like they're posting two big blinds at once. She pointed out defending the big blind might become more common as a result.

"You're more likely to complete the big blind, because 'why not,' while it technically shouldn't matter as you should divide the antes across the orbit," she said. "Consequently, you have to be alert in the other hands as well and not think 'well, I've invested nothing,' you have to look what it's the pot and think longer term. I've not been trained in that yet as yesterday was my first time playing with a big blind ante."

Fatima Moreira de Melo
Fatima Moreira de Melo finds the big blind ante 'super chill'

Monaco resident and high roller Govert Metaal chimed in as well, stating no preference regarding big blind or button ante. Metaal didn't notice a specific difference, as he said these days everyone completes the big blind all the time.

Talking about the big blind before ante change, Moreira de Melo said, "It's a good thing, otherwise it would be terrible when you're short."

"It really saves a lot, you play like 4 more hands per hour," Metaal added.

On the button versus big blind debate, Metaal said, "You putting the big blind in anyway, and it's easy to throw in another big."

"It's easy, a lot smoother," Moreira de Melo concurred. "Everything will be simpler and easier."

In conclusion, Metaal pointed out, "When you're a poker player, with the big blind ante as well at the shot clock, at the end of your career you will have played thousands of hands more because of it. That's what you're doing it for."

So there you have it, the reason why the big blind ante is in play at all no-Limit hold'em events at the 2018 PokerStars and Monte-Carlo©Casino EPT.

Tags: Fatima Moreira de MeloGovert MetaalMarc ConveyToby Stone

Final Table in the €100K

The €100K Super High Roller has reached a final table of nine, although there remains work to be done until the event is in the money with six places set to be paid. Here's the way the table is set up going into the final nine:

SeatPlayerCountryChip Count
1Jan SchwippertGermany1,300,000
2Ali Reza FatehiIran995,000
3Ole SchemionGermany1,535,000
4Christoph VogelsangGermany2,500,000
5Isaac HaxtonUnited States580,000
6Nick PetrangeloUnited States272,000
7Mikita BadziakouskiBelarus1,763,000
8Sam GreenwoodCanada1,905,000
9Justin BonomoUnited States837,000

When three more players go bust, they're scheduled to bag up for the night for the streamed final table tomorrow.