Just before the end of the EPT London main event, the European Poker Tour and PokerStars held another event for the elite poker players still remaining in London. It was the £1 Million Showdown, a £20,000 buy-in tournament for those with a taste for the excessive. The event would ensure a small, solid field and some intense poker.
There were 85 of the biggest names in poker who entered the EPT London £1 Million Showdown, including Chris Ferguson, Phil Ivey, Barry Greenstein, Daniel Negreanu, John Juanda, Scotty Nguyen, Greg Raymer, Chris Moneymaker, Joe Hachem, Tom Dwan, Vicky Coren, Scott Fischman, Gus Hansen, Patrik Antonius, Bertrand Grospellier, Dave Ulliott, David Benyamine, and Isabelle Mercier. Several members of the WSOP November Nine were also in attendance - Ylon Schwartz, Dennis Phillips, Ivan Demidov, Peter Eastgate, and David Rheem. Each table was tough, with pros in almost every seat, and they hunkered down for a fast two-day tournament.
The fast blind schedule ensured that play would move quickly, and it did. Alexander Kostritsyn started the day strong but was eliminated before Day 1 was over. The same fate befell Negreanu, who was at the top of the leaderboard for a good portion of the day but busted near the end of it.
Phillips was the only one of the November Nine who lasted through the day, and Benyamine was the chip leader of the 14 remaining players with 295,900 in chips. Alexander Roumeliotis was in second place with 229,400, followed by a distant third Jason Mercier, Scotty Nguyen, Masaaki Kagawa, John Juanda, Michael Watson, and Peter Jetten. The remaining players, all under 100K, were Isabelle Mercier, Isaac Haxton, Dennis Phillips, Ghassan Bitar, Andrew Feldman, and holding down the last spot with only 6,500 chips was Jani Sointula.
At the very start of Day 2, it was Sointula who moved that small stack into the pot with , but Andrew Feldman called with in the big blind. The board gave Feldman another five on the flop for good measure, and Sointula was out just that quickly. But Feldman couldn’t bask in his glory for long, as he moved in with his last 40K with K-10 against the A-10 of John Juanda. Though a king hit on the flop, an ace on the river knocked him out in 13th place…with no money.
With the elimination of Ghassan Bitar in 12th place at the hands of Isaac Haxton, the final 11 players considered playing hand-for-hand. However, Scotty Nguyen objected, and since the rules stated that hand-for-hand should only happen one place from the prize money (only 9 were getting paid in this event) and any other decision had to be unanimous, they simply resorted to normal play. And with the elimination of Alexander Roumeliotis in 10th place, courtesy of John Juanda, that hand-for-hand did go into effect.
With John Juanda as the massive chip leader, play slowed a bit as they inched toward the money. Haxton took the opportunity to double through David Benyamine with pocket threes against the A-10 of Benyamine, and his pair held up for the double. Peter Jetten also took that opportunity to double through Juanda with pocket aces that held up against queens.
Finally, it was WSOP final tablist Dennis Phillips who pushed his last 56K into the pot with and was called by Haxton and his . The board ran out , and Phillips was sent away in 10th place as the tournament’s money bubble player.
The final table was then set, with Peter Jetten in the lead, as follows:
Seat 1: Peter Jetten 347,000
Seat 2: Michael Watson 104,000
Seat 3: Isaac Haxton 193,000
Seat 4: Isabelle Mercier 86,000
Seat 5: David Benyamine 175,000
Seat 6: Scotty Nguyen 68,000
Seat 7: Jason Mercier 204,000
Seat 8: Masaaki Kagawa 142,000
Seat 9: John Juanda 302,000
Only minutes into the action, Scotty Nguyen was able to double through Benyamine with A-9 over A-7 to stay alive, while Benyamine immediately lost his chip lead over the table.
Isabelle Mercier then became the short stack and moved it all-in with A-J, but Michael Watson called with A-K. The board came Q-7-A-K-3, and Mercier was sent home in 9th place as the first money finisher in the tournament with a £51,000 prize.
Benyamine could not recover from Nguyen’s double through him earlier, and when Watson pushed all-in from the button, Benyamine called all-in with . Watson showed pocket aces, and the Frenchman was in trouble. The board came down , and David Benyamine was out in 8th place with £69,000.
Masaaki Kagawa was feeling desperate and moved his last 61,000 in with Q-9. Watson called with pocket nines, but with a queen on the flop and nothing of significance to follow, Kagawa doubled-up. Kagawa proceeded try to parlay that win into another when he pushed all-in with , but Watson was right there, this time with . The board came , and Kagawa was out in 7th place with a £86,000 prize.
Isaac Haxton was the next in danger, and after making an initial raise only to be reraised by John Juanda, Haxton went into the tank. He finally reraised all-in with pocket eights, and Juanda immediately called with pocket aces. The dealer gave them , and Haxton was eliminated in 6th place, which was worth £103,000.
All the while, Nguyen was having thoughts of a victory to add to his 2008 WSOP HORSE bracelet, but he would have to make some moves with his short stack to do it. He pushed with pocket jacks against the 8-7 of Peter Jetten and successfully doubled up. Still short, he moved again with K-Q, but this time Jetten called with pocket fives. The flop was blank, but a king came on the turn and a queen on the river to give Nguyen another double.
Finally, though, Nguyen got involved with the wrong guy. Juanda had made the initial raise to 45,000, and Nguyen moved all-in. Juanda called with , and Nguyen showed his better hand of . The board came , and Juanda found his flush on the river. Scotty Nguyen was forced to accept a 5th place finish and £137,000.
Jetten had not really recovered from the hits his stack took at the hands of Nguyen. His initial raise in the hand found a reraise all-in from Jason Mercier in the big blind. Jetten called with , and Mercier showed . The dealer gave them , and Mercier grabbed the full house on the turn. Jetten’s trip aces were no good and sent him to the rail in 4th place with £189,000.
Three-handed play began with Juanda and his 801,000 in front, but Mercier was creeping up with 754,000. Watson was short with only 166,000, and he immediately took that into battle with Mercier. Watson’s Q-10 wasn’t initially good against the A-8 of Mercier, but a queen on the flop did the job. Watson doubled up.
Watson moved again, though, with , but Juanda called with the dominating . The board brought , and Juanda took a commanding lead by eliminating Watson in 3rd place, for which he received £241,000.
Going into heads-up action, the chip counts were as follows:
John Juanda 1,185,000
Jason Mercier 536,000
Mercier had experience winning an EPT event in the prior season and had no intention of letting this one slip away easily. On the first hand of heads-up, he raised to 55,000, and Juanda reraised all-in. Mercier called all-in with , and Juanda showed the . The board produced , and the river saved Mercier and allowed him to double up and take the chip lead.
From then on, Mercier controlled the action with aggression and intensity. Juanda, who very recently won the World Series of Poker Europe main event, wasn’t ready to give up but would have to make a bold move to regain the lead.
The hand started with a raise from Juanda, but Mercier put the pressure on and reraised all-in. Juanda called for his tournament life with , and Mercier showed . The flop couldn’t have been better for Mercier with . After the 5c on the turn, Juanda was drawing dead, but the dealer had to show the 3c for the river anyway. John Juanda was eliminated in 2nd place with £327,000 for his tremendous effort.
Jason Mercier took first place in the EPT London £1 Million Showdown and proved himself deserving of a place among the game’s high rollers. He won £516,000 for his victory, along with a PokerStars/EPT trophy.
(Thanks to PokerNews and PokerStars for detailed hand and chip count information from live updates.)