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Michael Martin Wins European Poker Tour London Main Event and £1,000,000

by Ryan Lucchesi |  Published: Nov 30, 2008


Michael MartinThe European Poker Tour continues to produce the largest tournament fields and prize pools in the world, and the fifth installment of the PokerStars EPT London event obliterated all previous records as 596 players entered. This created one of the largest prize pools of the year, an impressive £3,349,200, with a £1,000,000 first-place prize. The original cap for the event was 500 players, and thanks to the quick addition of four tournament tables, a multitude of alternates also played. One of those alternates was Michael Martin, from the United States. American players have not fared well in London on the EPT, as only two have made the final table during the first four seasons. This year, the U.S. had two players at the final table, and for the first time, an American would win the title of EPT London champion. Here is a look at the final table when things began:

Seat 1 Eric Liu (USA) 1,308,000
Seat 2 Johannes Strassmann (Germany) 434,000
Seat 3 Philippe Dauteuil (Canada) 476,000
Seat 4 Anthony Lellouche (France) 1,022,000
Seat 5 Michael Tureniec (Sweden) 1,331,000
Seat 6 Alan Smurfit (Ireland) 396,000
Seat 7 Marcin Horecki (Poland) 309,000
Seat 8 Michael Martin (USA) 718,000

Anthony Lellouche came to the final table as one of the chip leaders, but both Philippe Dauteuil and Johannes Strassmann doubled up through him early, and he hit the rail in eighth place (£81,569). Eric Liu was the aggressor from the very beginning at the final table. He raised the majority of the pots preflop, and he continuously built his stack by winning most of the small pots that were up for grabs. Strassmann fell in seventh place (£120,723) during this stretch, and he was followed to the rail by a short-stacked Alan Smurfit, who was eliminated in sixth place (£153,351). The young Canuck Dauteuil went out next in fifth place (£195,766) before the players took a short dinner break.

Martin was able to come back from his stack falling to 95,000 with the blinds at 40,000-80,000 thanks to a series of three consecutive hands in which he tripled up (he was dealt pocket eights, nines, and aces), and then doubled up twice against Michael Tureniec. Liu was not so lucky, and it was Martin who eliminated him in fourth place (£234,920) a few hands later. Team PokerStars Pro Marcin Horecki fell next in third place (£303,439), and things were down to a heads-up showdown between two Michaels. The chip counts were:

Michael Martin 4,800,000
Michael Tureniec 1,205,000

Tureniec was able to score an early double-up that prolonged the match for two hours, but in the end, Martin made a huge call that all but ended things. Martin raised to 250,000 preflop and Tureniec made the call. Both players checked a flop of J 10 6, and the turn brought the 3. Tureniec opened the action for 380,000 and Martin made the call. The river was the J and Tureniec led out again, this time for 680,000. Martin thought for a moment and called Tureniec down. Tureniec showed Q-4 and Martin showed K-10 to win the pot. Martin won the tournament a few hands later, when his pocket fours held up against Tureniec's K-9. Tureniec took home £525,314 for his runner-up finish, and Martin claimed his first major-tournament victory, along with £1,000,000, while making the greatest comeback in EPT history.

Winner Spotlight: Michael Martin

Michael Martin had come close to live-tournament glory before his major victory at the EPT London championship. He finished in fifth place ($655,000) at the EPT Grand Final in season four, and was the runner-up at the 2007 Master Classics of Poker in Amsterdam ($533,000). These cashes, combined with his £1,000,000 win in London, give Martin more than $3 million in career winnings early in his career.

Martin is 24, and he began playing poker five years ago while he was a student at Penn State. He decided to become a poker professional in 2007, after he graduated with a degree in English. The bulk of his poker education took place online, where he plays under the screen name "Martine23" and has cashed for $284,873. He has proven to be a fast study in the live world, as well, having booked three wins of more than $500,000 during his short career, all in Europe. Martin will see if he can keep his European success going, as he plans to play in every EPT event until the end of the year.

High-rollin' in London

Jason MercierSome of the top poker players in the world, including Phil Ivey, Gus Hansen, and Team PokerStars pros Daniel Negreanu and Barry Greenstein, were among the field of 85 players who participated in the £20,000 PokerStars EPT London £1 Million Showdown at the Grosvenor Victoria Casino in London. After 11 levels of poker on the first day, the field was reduced to just 14 players. It then took two hours for them on the second day of play to reach the final nine. Here is how the final table looked when things got started:

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

Team PokerStars Pro Isabelle Mercier was the first to fall at the final table when her A-J was dominated preflop by the A-K of Michael Watson. She was followed to the rail by the chip leader at the start of the day, David Benyamine. The day had been unkind to the Frenchman, who lives in Las Vegas, and once again it was Watson who dealt the final blow. Watson held pocket aces against Benyamine's K-J, and they held up to oust Benyamine in eighth place.

After Masaaki Kagawa busted out seventh place, the event was a battle exclusively between Canada and the U.S. that featured four Internet young guns - Watson, Jason Mercier, Peter Jetten, and Isaac Haxton - against two of poker's most well-known tournament stars - John Juanda and Scotty Nguyen.

The old guard struck first, when Juanda held pocket aces in a battle with Haxton's pocket eights to send Haxton out in sixth place. Next, Juanda and Nguyen battled each other in an exciting hand. Nguyen was all in preflop with the A 10, and Juanda held the K 9. The board was dealt J 7 6 A J and Nguyen was sent home in fifth place.

Mercier won a coin flip against Jetten a little bit later. His pocket deuces made a full house on a board of A Q 2 A K against Jetten's A J, and Jetten was out in fourth place. Juanda disposed of Watson in third place after a prolonged three-handed battle, and things were down to heads up. The chip counts were:

John Juanda 1,185,000
Jason Mercier 536,000

Mercier was at a disadvantage at the start, but he doubled up on the very first hand of heads-up play. Mercier's Q J faced off against Juanda's A 2, and the board came 10 8 7 5 J to keep Mercier alive. On the final hand, Juanda raised preflop, and Mercier moved all in. Mercier was behind with the K Q against Juanda's A J, but he flopped the nut straight on a board of J 10 9 5 3 to win the EPT London £1 Million Showdown for the second major title of his career (he won the EPT San Remo during season four).

Mercier has been on a hot streak of late, making final tables on the EPT (sixth place in the EPT Barcelona) and at the World Series of Poker Europe (eighth place in event No. 3 - £5,000 pot-limit Omaha). He is now one of the leading cash winners in tournament poker this year, with $2,639,031. Juanda just missed his second major win during his trip to Europe with the runner-up finish, after he won the main event of the WSOP Europe earlier in the same week.
The final-table results were as follows:

1 Jason Mercier (USA) £516,000
2 John Juanda (USA) £327,000
3 Michael Watson (Canada) £241,000
4 Peter Jetten (Canada) £189,000
5 Scotty Nguyen (USA) £137,500
6 Isaac Haxton (USA) £103,000
7 Masaaki Kagawa (Japan) £86,000
8 David Benyamine (France) £59,000
9 Isabelle Mercier (Canada) £51,000