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High-Stakes Live Tournament Poker Returns To Europe With A Bang

Super High Roller Bowl Europe Series Paid Out $27 Million Across 10 Events In August

by Erik Fast |  Published: Oct 06, 2021


The international high-stakes tournament circuit made its way to Merit Royal Hotel & Casino in Cyprus during the final days of August for the 2021 Super High Roller Bowl Europe. The festival featured a total of ten nosebleed buy-in events ranging from $25,000 all the way up through the $250,000 championship event.

The tournaments alternated between two formats: no-limit hold’em and short deck, with five events of each game. A total of $27,650,000 in prize money was ultimately awarded across the series, with plenty of big names coming away with trophies and massive payouts.

The first event on the schedule was a $25,000 buy-in short deck, which attracted a field of 48 entries. 10-time WSOP bracelet winner Phil Ivey emerged victorious in the end, securing the final four knockouts to lock up the $408,000 first-place prize and his first live poker tournament title of 2021.

The 44-year-old Poker Hall of Famer’s last recorded cash in a live open event came in March of 2020, when he racked up nearly $1.7 million in the span of a week at the MILLIONS Super High Roller Sochi, one of the last high-stakes tournament series to run before the live poker shutdown that lasted through most of 2020. Ivey did have one win since then, but it came in an invitational $25,000 heads-up event. Ivey defeated fellow high-stakes legend Patrik Antonius in the finals to lock up the title. He was also not yet done making deep runs at this year’s SHRB Europe, though. More on that later.

The $25,000 no-limit hold’em event drew the largest field of the series, with 81 entries building a $2,025,000 prize pool. France’s Johan Guilbert came out on top, taking home $506,250 for the win.

This was the largest live tournament score of Guilbert’s career, blowing away the $128,042 he earned as the runner-up in the $3,000 buy-in no-limit hold’em shootout event at the 2019 WSOP. The victory increased his lifetime earnings to just shy of $1.3 million. Ali Imsirovic recorded the first of his two cashes during this series by finishing sixth in this event for $121,500.

Antanas ‘Tony G’ Guoga took down the second $25,000 buy-in short deck event. The Lithuanian businessman, politician, and poker player defeated a field of 45 entries to earn the $382,500 top prize and his first tournament title in over two years. The win increased Guoga’s career tournament earnings to more than $6.5 million.

Chris Brewer finished as the runner-up for $247,500. He ended up making a total of three in-the-money finishes throughout the series, adding $448,500 in earnings and 695 Card Player Player of the Year points to his totals. With 14 POY-qualified final-table finishes, and more than $1.9 million in earnings from those scores, Brewer has climbed into 13th place in the 2021 POY race, sponsored by Global Poker. He is also among the top contenders in the inaugural PokerGO Tour standings, with his 1,365 points good for seventh place after his run in Cyprus.

Selahaddin Bedir backed up a runner-up showing in event no. 2 by beating out a field of 52 entries in the first $50,000 buy-in no-limit hold’em event, earning $832,000 for the win. The Turkish player later followed his two podium finishes with a fourth-place showing in the $100,000 buy-in no-limit hold’em event. All told, Bedir cashed for $1,581,500 and accrued enough PokerGO Tour points to join the top 20.

Bedir beat out Phil Ivey to win his title. Ivey took home $546,000 for his runner-up finish, increasing his lifetime tournament earnings to $31,777,593. As a result, Ivey surpassed Steve O’Dwyer ($31,279,874 in earnings) to move into 11th place on poker’s all-time money list.

As previously mentioned, there were five short deck tournaments on the schedule for this series. Santi Jiang managed to cash in four of them, accumulating more than $1.2 million in earnings along the way. His biggest score of the series came when he beat out a field of 42 entries to win the $50,000 buy-in short deck event, earning $756,000 as the champion. Jiang’s breakout performance in the short deck events at this SHRB series were enough to move him into 23rd place on the PokerGo Tour leaderboard. Seth Davies finished as the runner-up to Jiang, earning $504,000 for his third cash of the series. The American poker pro still had one more big score to come, though.

Russian high stakes regular Artur Martirosian outlasted a field of 35 entries in the $100,000 buy-in no-limit hold’em event, earning a career-best $1.4 million as the champion. This was Martirosian’s third title of the year, having taken down the EPT Sochi main event and a WPT Russia side event earlier in 2021. Martirosian earned 480 POY points for his latest victory. With six POY-qualified final table finishes for $1,953,598 so far this year, he has shot up the rankings and into 27th place in the overall standings.

Guilbert and Bedir backed up their earlier victories with cashes in this event, while two-time WSOP bracelet winner and 2016 POY award winner David Peters finished second for $910,000. Peters would only have to wait another two days for his next major six-figure payday.

In the meantime, Tony G found himself in the winner’s circle yet again. Guoga overcame a field of 26 entries to win the $100,000 buy-in short deck event just four days after taking down a $25,000 buy-in tournament playing the same game. Guoga earned $1,169,000 for the win, the largest payday of his tournament career.

Next up on the agenda was the centerpiece of the whole series, the $250,000 buy-in championship no-limit hold’em main event. This was the first event with a buy-in of more than $100,000 held since the live poker world began to reopen following the shutdown of 2020. With 41 entries before registration came to a close, the prize pool ballooned to $10,250,000.

In the end, Polish high-stakes cash game and tournament player Wiktor Malinowski separated himself from the field to secure the title and the $3,690,000 first-place prize. This was far and away his largest live tournament payday, blowing past the $296,643 he earned as the seventh-place finisher in the 2019 EPT Monte Carlo €100,000 high roller. The former professional handball player known by his online moniker ‘limitless’ had no prior live cashes in 2021, but this win alone was enough to move him into 27th place in the PokerGO Tour standings.

Ivan Leow finished second for $2,460,000, while 20-year-old high-stakes newcomer Zhuang Ruan earned $1,640,000 for his third-place showing. Timothy Adams had already won two Super High Roller Bowl championships, and came very close to securing his third, but ultimately settled for $1,127,500 as the fourth-place finisher.

David Peters made the top five, earning $820,000 for his latest deep run in a massive event. The score increased his lifetime earnings to $38,479,601, enough to see him move from sixth up to fifth place on poker’s all-time money list. This was Peters’ eighth POY-qualified final table of the year, with three titles won and more than $2.9 million in earnings accrued across those cashes. As a result, he moved into 17th place in the POY race.

The final two events on the schedule were a pair of $50,000 buy-in events. The short deck tournament had 19 entries, with event no. 5 runner-up Seth Davies coming away with the title, the top prize of $435,400, and 204 POY points. This was his first title and ninth POY-qualified final table of the year, with more than $1.9 million in earnings locked up along the way. With 2,190 POY points, Davies has climbed into 26th place in the standings. Davies also took home 261 PokerGO Tour points, bringing his year-to-date total to 1,186. As a result, he now sits in 11th place on the PokerGO Tour leaderboard.

The final tournament of the SHRB Europe was a $50,000 buy-in no-limit hold’em event. A total of 26 entries built a $1.3 million prize pool. The last player standing was none other than Ali Imsirovic, the current points leader in both the 2021 POY race and the inaugural PokerGO Tour standings.

Imsirovic earned $598,000 for his tenth title of the year. This was his 22nd POY-qualified final-table finish so far in 2021, with just shy of $3.9 million in POY earnings accumulated along the way. Imsirovic has averaged a POY-qualified final-table finish once every 11.3 days so far in 2021, with a title won every 25 days. He is currently on pace to make just more than 32 final tables this year, which would break the record of 31 set by Jake Schindler when he won the 2018 POY award.

Imsirovic earned 306 POY points for his latest victory, expanding his lead in the 2021 race. He now sits 1,781 points ahead of his nearest competitor, Sean Perry. The 359 PokerGO Tour points he secured as the winner of this event saw him increase his lead over Perry to 1,011 in that points race, which also has the two high-stakes stars sitting in first and second atop the standings.

Cary Katz finished third for $208,000 and 204 POY points. This was Katz’s 16th final-table of the year, with one title won and more than $2.5 million in POY earnings piled up as he went. He joined the top ten in the POY rankings after the score. He also climbed in the PokerGO Tour race, with the 125 points he earned for this score being enough to see him surpass Sean Winter and climb into fourth place on that leaderboard. ♠