With the wrap-up of the World Series of Poker Europe barely completed, the PokerStars.com European Poker Tour launched into its London Main Event. The £5,000 buy-in was half the cost of the WSOPE Main Event, and it guaranteed to bring in the sizable crowds that the EPT has come to expect at almost every stop; London being one of its most popular on the tour did not disappoint.
Day 1A saw registration top off at 304 players, and the field was brimming over with recognizable faces, including Peter Eastgate, Roland de Wolfe, Arnaud Mattern, Vivek Rajkumar, Mike Matusow, Vicky Coren, Shaun Deeb, Ludovic Lacay, Alex Kravchenko, Sandra Naujoks, Chris Bjorin, EPT Barcelona champion Carter Phillips, Chris Ferguson, Erik Seidel, Marcel Luske, and UK soccer player Teddy Sheringham. But when play stopped for the night, only 129 players remained with Mario Cordero as the chip leader with 218,100.
Day 1B ended its registration with an astounding 426 players, putting the final total at 730 players and the prize pool at £3,540,500 with a first prize of $850,000. With that, the EPT London became the largest tournament ever held in the UK. Some of the big names playing on the second starting day included Annette Obrestad, Bertrand Grospellier, Tom Dwan, Barry Shulman, Jeff Lisandro, JC Tran, Liz Lieu, Dennis Phillips, Dan Harrington, Chad Brown, Dario Minieri, Nenad Medic, and James Akenhead. At the end of the day, only 189 survived, and Nikolai Senninger was the chip leader with a stack of 323,100 chips.
Day 2 found a total of 318 players returning to the felt, most of whom did not make it through the day. Players such as Dennis Phillips and Barry Shulman were among the first eliminated, but when all was said and done, there were only 111 remaining with Tommy Vedes as the chip leader holding nearly 600K in chips.
Day 3 looked to be a tough one, as the beginning of the day would see the money bubble burst. Only 104 players were set to be paid, and on the bubble, Piero Mormina pushed all-in for his last 28,500 with pocket threes, and Benny Spindler called with . The board gave the latter a straight with , and Mormina left on the bubble.
As play continued, Olaf de Zeeuw became the first to cash, taking home £7,500 for 104th place, and other notables on the elimination list included Surinder Sunar in 100th place, Arnaud Mattern in 97th, Ross Boatman in 82nd, Eugene Katchalov in 77th, JP Kelly in 58th, Tommy Vedes in 54th, JC Tran in 50th, Teddy Sheringham in 49th, James Obst in 44th, Maria Mayrinck in 43rd, John Juanda in 40th, Jeff Lisandro in 38th, Chris Ferguson in 37th, Darus Suharto in 36th, and finally Tamas Lendvai in 25th. Play ended with 24 players remaining and Michael Berry in the lead with 1,837,000 chips.
Day 4 would find the playdown to the final table a longer one than anticipated, but an exciting one nonetheless. The action began with Philip Byers leaving in 24th place with £17,000, followed by recognizable faces like Theo Tran in 23rd, November Nine member Kevin Schaffel in 19th, Annette Obrestad in 17th, and Marty Smyth in tenth. Ultimately, with one more player to go, Vivek Rajkumar was all-in preflop holding , and Dominic Cullen had . The board helped Cullen with , and Rajkumar was eliminated in ninth place with £38,000.
That left the final table set for the following day as shown here:
|Seat 1: ||Karim Bennani ||845,000 |
|Seat 2: ||Martin Gudvangen ||3,510,000 |
|Seat 3: ||Nikolai Senninger ||2,175,000 |
|Seat 4: ||Raymond Wu ||1,535,000 |
|Seat 5: ||Aaron Gustavson ||7,140,000 |
|Seat 6: ||Dominic Cullen ||2,105,000 |
|Seat 7: ||Peter Eastgate ||3,535,000 |
|Seat 8: ||Rui Milhomens ||1,100,000 |
The action began with Gustavson extending his lead and Eastgate making a run for it. With big hands versus Cullin and Gustavson, Eastgate narrowed the divide between his position and that of the chip leader.
Bennani was having no such luck. The original short stack was chipped down below the 300K mark and finally pushed all-in with . Milhomens called from the big blind with . The flop brought possibilities with , but the turn and river ended the tournament for Karim Benanni, who took home £50,100 for the eighth place finish.
Wu was the next to be at risk, having been relegated to a stack of 650K. He pushed with , and Gustavson called with . The board immediately hit Gustavson with a flop, and the turn and river sent Raymond Wu out in seventh place with £87,000.
Only moments later, Milhomen and Eastgate battled preflop, and when Eastgate reraised all-in, Milhomen called with pocket eights. Eastgate showed , and the board came . Rui Milhomen was eliminated in sixth place with £124,000.
With five players left, Senninger was able to double through Gudvangen twice to not only stay alive but stay clear of the danger zone for the time being. But Cullen could not say the same. With 1.7 million in chips, he pushed preflop with , and Gustavson made the call with pocket eights. The flop ended the race situation with to give Gustavson the set, and the turn and river solidified it. Dominic Cullen left the tournament in fifth place with £173,000.
It didn’t take much longer to find another at-risk player, and it was Gudvangen who pushed his 1.1 million short stack from the small blind. But Senninger was able to call from the big blind with to find that he was ahead of Gudvangen’s . The board came , and Martin Gudvangen was ousted in fourth place with £227,000.
Three-handed action began with Gustavson holding the lead with 9,145,000, though Eastgate had 7,630,000 and wasn’t far behind. Senninger was the shortest stack with 5,135,000, but he soon won a 3 million-chip pot from Eastgate to feel a bit more secure. But as Eastgate stayed aggressive and climbed back up the leaderboard, Senninger fell.
That led to a hand that saw Senninger and Gustavson take to a flop. Gustavson bet, Senninger called, and the dealer gave them a on the turn. Gustavson moved all-in, and though Senninger took some time to consider his options, he ultimately called with pocket eights. But Gustavson showed for top pair, and the on the river gave him two pair and the pot. Nikolai Senninger was eliminated in third place with £285,000.
Heads-up action was set to begin after a dinner break with the following chip counts:
|Aaron Gustavson ||14,000,000 |
|Peter Eastgate ||7,800,000 |
As soon as play resumed, Eastgate lost a pot worth more than 2 million chips when Gustavson raised Eastgate’s bet on a board and Eastgate folded.
That led directly into the final hand of the night. Eastgate raised preflop, Gustavson reraised, and Eastgate pushed all-in with . Gustavson called without hesitation holding , and he dominated. The board ran out , and Peter Eastgate was forced to accept second place and the £530,000 that went with it.
Aaron Gustavson of the United States won the EPT London Main Event, taking home the trophy and £850,000 in prize money.