2018 PokerStars and Monte-Carlo©Casino EPT

Feature Coverage
Day: 8

Feature Coverage

Day 8 Completed

Justin Bonomo Wins €25,000 Single Day High Roller for €378,000

Justin Bonomo Winner Wins €25,500 Single-Day High Roller
Justin Bonomo Winner Wins €25,500 Single-Day High Roller

First, Justin Bonomo finished fifth in the PokerStars and Monte-Carlo©Casino EPT €100,000 Super High Roller for €401,000. Then he finished fourth in the €50,000 Single Day High Roller for €228,700. However, today he skipped places third and second and took down the €25,000 Single Day High Roller for €378,000.

"It feels great," said Bonomo shortly after clinching the victory. "There have been three High Rollers here in Monte Carlo and I've cashed everyone one, so I don't have a single complaint in the world. It's an incredible streak I've been on."

Here are the final table results:

SeatNameCountryPayout (€)Payout ($)
1Justin BonomoUnited States€ 378,000$453,600
2Steve O’DwyerUnited States€ 273,200$327,840
3Erik SeidelUnited States€ 174,100$208,920
4Timothy AdamsCanada€ 132,100$158,520
5Bryn KenneyUnited States€ 102,000$122,400
6Igor KurganovRussian Federation€ 78,100$93,720
7Nicola GriecoItaly€ 63,000$75,600

Bonomo's streak has seen him win four High Roller tournaments this year alone, to go with his many achievements before that. To win his fourth he had to beat a tough opponent in Steve O'Dwyer heads-up, with O'Dwyer coming off the back of a Single Day High Roller win of his own in the €25,000 event.

"[During heads-up] I just played with my game plan. Steve's a good enough player that I'm going to make very slight adjustments to the mistakes I think he's making, but overall he's playing very well so I'm not going to get too fancy when it comes to that."

The tournament featured the big blind ante as well as a 30-second shot clock, two things which are rapidly becoming the norm not just when it comes to High Roller tournaments, but in other tournaments as well, as we've seen in the EPT Monte Carlo Main Event. Bonomo thinks that these innovations are catching on has proven to be such a success in High Roller tournaments.

"I think what's happening is that there's this competition in the high stakes tournament world, with tournaments being forced to adjust depending on who the best operators are. And what the best are doing is catching on. It's smart to have a big blind ante, it's smart to have a shot clock. Players love it."

With the €25,000 three-day High Roller getting underway tomorrow, how does Bonomo rank his chances of going four-from-four in cashing High Roller events here in Monaco?

"I'm going to try really hard," he said. "The chances are good. It's a re-entry and I'll be there with my A-game!"

Bryn Kenney

Event recap

50 players including 14 re-entries came together to form the €25,000 Single Day High Roller, with names such as Mustapha Kanit, John Juanda, Stephen Chidwick and early chip leader Sylvain Loosli all in action. Bryn Kenney was also in contention for chip leader, and he lead the way by the time the tournament reached two tables, with Steve O'Dwyer not far behind him.

By the dinner break, Bonomo lead the final 10 players with only seven guaranteed a min-cash of €63,000. Soon after they returned, Erik Seidel busted two players in one hand two get the field down to eight, and Kenney dispatched Jan-Eric Schwippert with {8-}{8-} against {a-}{7-} to burst what was a very quick bubble.

Igor Kurganov sent Nicola Grieco to the rail in 7th for a min-cash after his tens held against the Italian's ace-king, but Kurganov would go from eliminating a player to out himself after running ace-king into the kings of Bonomo. By this stage, Bonomo had almost half the chips in play, and he'd reach that mark with the elimination of Bryn Kenney in fifth after Bonomo rivered a flush.

Another river would send Timothy Adams to the rail in fourth. Adams bet the river with two-pair, and called off Bonomo's shove, only to see his opponent had rivered a straight. Incredibly, it was another river that sent Seidel to the rail in third. Seidel bet the river with a pair of jacks, and called off his opponent's all-in, only for Bonomo to have rivered yet another straight.

Bonomo held a 2:1 chip lead going into heads-up and he'd extend it with some well-timed jams to frustrate O'Dwyer. O'Dwyer did manage to double when his dominated queen-three flopped a pair of threes against the queen-jack of Bonomo. However, there was no getting away from it when Bonomo three-bet all in with nines and O'Dwyer called it off with ace-jack.

There wasn't going to be two wins in a week for O'Dwyer who would have to settle for second place; the €273,200 still enough to mean he overtakes Phil Hellmuth Jr. in the all-time US money list. For Bonomo, his third cash of the week takes him over €1,000,000 in cashes here in Monte Carlo.

Justin Bonomo Wins €25,500 Single-Day High Roller
Justin Bonomo

Tags: Bryn KenneyErik SeidelIgor KurganovJustin BonomoNicola GriecoSteve O'DwyerTimothy Adams

€25k Update: Final Table Reached; Bonomo Leads

Justin Bonomo & Erik Seidel
Justin Bonomo & Erik Seidel

Erik Seidel opened to 35,000 on the button. Zachary Clark three-bet all in from the small blind and Aleksander Uskov moved all in from the big blind, both with around ten big blinds. Seidel, who came back from the break with around 90,000 in chips had chipped up significantly since play resumed after the dinner break.

"I guess I call," he said, tabling {a-Spades}{q-Hearts} against Clark's {k-Clubs}{9-Hearts} and Uskov's {a-Hearts}{k-Hearts}.

The board ran out {q-Spades}{j-Diamonds}{5-Clubs}{6-Diamonds}{8-Hearts} sending two players to the rail and meaning that the final table would start eight-handed, on the exact money bubble.

Here is the seating draw and chip counts of the final eight players:

SeatNameCountryChip Count
1Jan-Eric SchwippertGermany90,000
2Bryn KenneyUnited States420,000
3Steve O’DwyerUnited States770,000
4Erik SeidelUnited States1,000,000
5Timothy AdamsCanada440,000
6Nicola GreicoItaly210,000
7Igor KurganovRussian Federation270,000
8Justin BonomoUnited States1,600,000

Sinclair Leaps from $50 Buy-ins to $100K in Whirlwind Year

Jack Sinclair
Jack Sinclair

Jack Sinclair quit his job in January 2016 to give full-time professional poker a try. After an "OK-ish" year, he set a modest goal for 2017: win $50,000 playing poker.

Safe to say, he's aiming a little higher now.

Sinclair has basically lived every tournament poker player's dream over the past year as he's gone from grinding $50 buy-ins online to playing $100Ks live. It's been a whirlwind of a year for the 27-year-old British pro, and it all started with some casual browsing on PocketFives.

Online poker was going decently enough for Sinclair since he had left his job as a freelance sound engineer to try to play for a living. He'd been playing recreationally since he was a 21-year-old university student and then continued as an enthusiast for the next few years, occasionally even sneaking in sessions at work.

However, he was in the midst of a big downswing as he clicked through some profiles on PocketFives in November, when he saw a blurb that interested him on the profile of Philipp "philbort" Gruissem.

"The bort always knows the board," it read. "I'm giving final table coachings. Just write me at Skype."

Sinclair did as the ad suggested and the two hooked up for a session. He said "it wasn't groundbreaking or anything" but Gruissem did say he felt Sinclair was likely beating the games he was playing, which were tournaments up to $50.

That was good for Sinclair to hear, and a week or two later, he read another ad online that would change the course of his career permanently. Gruissem and his roommate in Malta, it seemed, sought another roomie so they could fill their house and avoid eviction at the hands of a spiteful landlord.

Philipp Gruissem
Coaching from Philipp Gruissem jumpstarted Jack Sinclair's career.

"I guess they were pretty desperate because they took me," Sinclair said with a laugh.

Sinclair moved to the island nation of about 450,000 in February 2017. While the move would prove successful for Sinclair, Gruissem couldn't say the same.

"The funny thing was they actually did get kicked out anyway," Sinclair said. "The landlords were just using that as an excuse."

In any case, the three found new digs and settled in. That's when the groundbreaking stuff happened for Sinclair.

"Living with Phil was insane," Sinclair said.

Sinclair soaked in some knowledge from the German legend, who counts more than $14 million in live and online cashes among his accomplishments. The aspiring Brit quickly improved and tried his hand at live tournaments for the first time in a big series back home in England. He booked his first cash, for £7,500, and a live poker career was officially under way.

For his part, Gruissem downplayed his role in Sinclair's improvement, crediting Sinclair's abilities.

"He's very talented," the German said. "He has many traits that are good for a poker player. He just needed some confidence to play for some bigger stakes. He needed a confidence boost more than knowledge of the game."

After shipping back to Malta, Sinclair returned to his cozy online grind. He was set to do so for the summer until another Malta-based grinder, Anton Morgenstern, suggested they head for the World Series of Poker and share a room.

Sinclair played his second live series. To say it went well would be a laughable understatement. After a couple of small cashes, the unknown Brit made a run to the final table of the Main Event, his first $10K, finishing eighth for $1.2 million.

Jack Sinclair
Jack Sinclair at the WSOP Main Event final table.

More firsts followed. In August, Sinclair played his first €25K, at the German Poker Championships. He wasn't sure about firing, but a backer who takes pieces of Sinclair regularly prodded him to hop in.

"I didn't feel too good about putting up a bunch of money having never played one before," Sinclair said. "I kept telling him, 'You've got to take another 10 percent. You've got to take another 10 or I won't play.'"

"All right, but you have to win it," came the response.

No problem. Twenty-seven eliminations later, Sinclair locked up €250,000. That led to his next first.

"So, you're going to play the One Drop, right?" the same buyer said, referencing the upcoming €100K buy-ing at WSOP Europe.

"No thanks," Sinclair laughed. "There's no way I'm playing a €100K."

Luckily for Sinclair — as it would turn out — the buyer didn't give him a choice.

"I paid the deposit," he said. "You're playing."

His first €100K didn't quite measure up to his first $10K or his first $25K. This time, he barely snuck over a min-cash, but it was still another €177,616 in the winnings column.

Roughly $270,000 more has followed, and one year after his first live score, Sinclair counts $2 million in cashes. He called himself "truly blessed" in a tweet looking back on his tremendous year.

Jack Sinclair
Jack Sinclair rocketed up the stakes in the past year.

"It's awesome for me to see him successful," Gruissem said. "It's good for the vibe, it's way more positive."

Perhaps some of that vibe is rubbing off on Gruissem. While he's had a fantastic career, big results have been a little harder to come by lately as he hasn't had a seven-figure year since 2014. However, he's in the midst of a deep run in the Main Event, carrying the flag for the Malta house — he and Sinclair remain roommates — into the final 50 runners.

"I should coach myself," he joked. "My students seem to be doing better than me. All my students have been winning. Maybe [coaching] is a better job for me."

Certainly for Sinclair, responding to that quirky ad from "the bort" proved to be a life-changing decision. Not many are lucky enough to rocket from $50 buy-ins to $2 million in cashes in a year's time, but with the help of his mustachioed roommate, Sinclair has become of the fortunate few.

He cleared his 2017 goal by $1.7 million, so he's going to have to recalibrate visions for his future.

"I had to come up with new goals," he allowed. "It's been pretty crazy."

€25k Update: Payouts Confirmed; €378,000 for the Winner

Bryn Kenney
Bryn Kenney

Registration has closed in the €25,000 Single Day High Roller, with a total field of 50, including 16 re-entries. This generated a prize pool of €1,200,500 and there will be seven places paid.

Recent eliminations include John Juanda, Roman Hajiyev, Mikita Badziakouski and EPT Monte Carlo €10,300 High Roller winner Juan Pardo.

Here are the confirmed payouts:

PositionPayout (€)Payout ($)
1€ 378,000$453,600
2€ 273,200$327,840
3€ 174,100$208,920
4€ 132,100$158,520
5€ 102,000$122,400
6€ 78,100$93,720
7€ 63,000$75,600

At the time of writing, there are 16 players remaining seated at two tables. The blinds are 5,000/10,000 with a 10,000 button ante. Here is the seating draw:

Bryn Kenney is still the chip leader, but Steve O'Dwyer is closing in after a pot just before the redraw. Ona {7-Clubs}{8-Spades}{4-Hearts}{a-Spades}{j-Clubs} board, Vogelsang check-called a bet of 245,000 only to get shown the {9-Hearts}{10-Spades} straight from O'Dwyer.

SeatNameChip CountSeatNameChip Count
1Christoph Vogelsang88,0001Steve O’Dwyer720,000
2Mikalai Vaskaboinikau300,0002Justin Bonomo570,000
3Erik Seidel165,0003Timothy Adams220,000
4Zachary Clark70,0004Thomas Muehloecker180,000
5Aleksander Uskov340,0005Charlie Carrel415,000
6Nicola Greico80,0006Jan-Eric Schwippert120,000
7Stephen Chidwick90,0007Igor Kurganov460,000
8Bryn Kenney760,0008Jean-Noel Thorel280,000

Stephen Chidwick and Jean-Noel Thorel have both been eliminated, with the latter running tens into the aces of Igor Kurganov, who now also sits on just over 700,000 in chips

PokerStars and Monte-Carlo©Casino EPT - A Match Made in Monaco

It's hard to imagine the PokerStars schedule without its annual stop in the sovereign city-state of Monaco. It seems that Monte Carlo and PokerStars are just made for one another. The glamour of the location mixed with the excitement of one of the world's most prestigious poker tournaments. The tournament has given us numerous worthy champions, from Nicolas Chouity to Pieter de Korver, Steve O'Dwyer to Adrian Mateos.

This year, less than a week after the PokerStars and Monte-Carlo©Casino EPT departs Monte Carlo, there is the Grand Prix Historique of Monaco. Held every two years since 1997, it offers a series of races for classic cars from different eras.

The EPT is like a classic car. Just under two years ago PokerStars made the decision to park it up, take the key out of the ignition, preserve its legacy as Europe's premier poker tour and pull the covers over it.

Two years later, they've pulled back those covers and that same old classic car has come roaring out again, first in Sochi and then, fittingly, in Monte Carlo. There are further stops scheduled in Barcelona and Prague for later this year.

Tournament Room

Here in Monte Carlo, there will always be some spectators that prefer the noise, spectacle, and razzmatazz of Formula One, but there will always be a crowd for the Grand Prix Historique. The history. The classic cars that have been around for decades.

It's this classic car in this classic setting which keeps players coming back to Monte Carlo. And it's that history which keeps players coming back to Monte Carlo. The EPT Grand Final has been around for over a decade; it has been a feature of the PokerStars live tournament schedule every year since 2005.

The numbers may fluctuate and the schedule may change, but it looks like Monte Carlo will be a staple on the EPT calendar for a long while yet.

Split Hold'em Makes a Cameo in Media Event

Split Hold'em
Split Hold'em

In addition to the usual drinks and good times, poker media members participated in a trial run of Split Hold'em, PokerStars' new game offering, during the Media Event at PokerStars and Monte-Carlo©Casino EPT.

An early day in the Main Event — the tournament bagged after less than four levels out of a scheduled five — meant a rare short grind for most of the assembled poker media. Everyone was ready to relax and unwind after a long week of work at Le Sporting in Monte Carlo, and about 25 players gathered around three tables when it time to start at 10 p.m.

The tournament director got everyone seated and announced that Split Hold'em would be played for the first 10-minute level, and players would be free to vote on whether they wanted to continue with the experimental format after that.

Split Hold'em, covered here on PokerNews, introduces one twist on traditional hold'em. The basics stay the same — two cards in the hole face down, community cards on the board face up — but two full boards are dealt rather than one. The best hand on each board takes down half of the pot, so players must show down two winners or force everyone else to fold in order to scoop the whole pot.

Cards hit the air and some of the first live Split Hold'em at a PokerStars event was under way. Players cracked beers and sipped — or chugged, in some cases — wine and tried to figure out the format on the fly.

A handful of PokerStars-sponsored players — Jake Cody, Fatima Moreira de Melo, Ben Spragg and Randy Lew sat in among the assorted poker media. As it happened, the latter three scattered around one table. As usual with media events, little folding ensued, making for some interesting contest pots in the double-board game.

PokerStars EPT Monte Carlo Media Event

Lew and Moreira de Melo admitted they hadn't tried it, while Spragg seemed the most confident of the bunch. He entered a number of pots and shared some pointers with his tablemates.

Moreira de Melo didn't take his advice to make sure she had something on boards to heart, as she clashed with Lew in a big pot. With a pair of kings adorning the top board and queen-high headlining the bottom on the turn, she faced a shove from Lew.

"Which board am I playing?" Lew taunted.

She called with queen-ten, which didn't have anything on the top board, only to see Lew show a set of fives on the bottom board. Needing a queen or ten on the top to chop, she missed and sent a double over.

"Nothing you could do," Spragg needled. "Unlucky. Sometimes, you just get coolered."

PokerStars EPT Monte Carlo Media Event
Fatima Moreira de Melo had a short stay in the media event.

Some players wanted to continue playing Split Hold'em at the close of the level, while others wanted to transition to traditional hold'em so they could turn off their brains a bit and keep the adult beverages flowing. In the end, that's what happened, and the tournament progressed normally from there.

Overall, the game seemed to keep a fairly decent pace for a double-board game, although that could be a concern going forward if more PokerStars live events utilize the experimental format. The big blind ante helps alleviate some of the speed issues. Dealers and players didn't have any problems determining winners or getting the mechanics of the game right.

Strategically speaking, aggression and hand selection that focuses on suited connectors appears to be the way to go.

The former is of utmost importance as many hands at showdown are chopped, so the easiest way to scoop seems to be getting everyone else to fold.

On the latter point, having hands that have a wide spread of board coverage makes it easier to play postflop. For example, a fairly strong pair like pocket tens will often see one or more boards where the strength of the hand is dicey, while ten-nine suited might be able to make a pair on one board and a draw on the other to more comfortably continue.

If the game proves popular online in its trial run, expect a wider introduction to live events in the near future. If not, look out for the next innovation from PokerStars as the company continues to rethink aspects of poker in an attempt to find a new format that sticks.