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EPT Monte Carlo Series Breaks Multiple Field Records

by Erik Fast |  Published: Jun 12, 2024

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The poker world once again descended upon the Principality of Monaco along the French Riviera in the spring for the latest edition of the PokerStars European Poker Tour Monte Carlo festival.

Organizers reported that more than €45 million in prize money was awarded throughout the series, which ran from April 24 through May 4 at the Sporting Monte-Carlo, with several of the tentpole events setting attendance records along the way.

The whole affair kicked off with the France Poker Series €1,100 no-limit hold’em main event, which saw Atanas Malinov top a field of 2,096 entries. That event was covered in a previous issue. Now, let’s take a closer look at the rest of the huge results from this festival.

Derk Van Luijk Triumphs In The Main Event

Most notable among the several record-setting tournaments of this series was the EPT Monte Carlo €5,300 no-limit hold’em main event, which attracted the largest turnout ever for this storied tournament with 1,208 entries. This marks the fourth overall time that the main event has drawn a field of over a thousand entries, including each of the last three times it was held.

The record showing resulted in a prize pool worth nearly $6.3 million. After a week of action, the field was narrowed down to a single player in Derk Van Luijk.

The 43-year-old Dutchman was nearly out the door in eighth place, but managed to win an all-in with A-J trailing pocket aces to stay alive late on day 5, and ultimately walked away with the title and the top prize of $1,080,000 the following evening.

“I still can’t realize it. I’m serious, it’s amazing,” Van Luijk told PokerStars reporters.

This was far and away the largest recorded score yet for Van Luijk, blowing away the $101,053 he secured for a win in a 2022 EPT Barcelona €2,200 side event. He now has more than $1.3 million in recorded earnings.

Van Luijk also earned 1,920 Card Player Player of the Year points as the champion of this event. This was his first POY-qualified score of the year, but it alone was sufficient to catapult him up the rankings and into 38th place on the 2024 POY leaderboard.

The top 176 finishers made the money in this event, with big names like Dan Smith (29th), Mustapha Kanit (26th), and 2015 champion of this event Adrian Mateos (11th) among those who ran deep. The final table also included bracelet winner Jonathan Pastore (5th) and WSOP Circuit winner Rania Nasreddine (3rd).

Heads-up play began with Van Luijk holding more than a 2:1 lead over Boris Angelov, with the shorter stack still on nearly 40 big blinds. The two went on to battle it out for several hours, with plenty of swings along the way.

Van Luijk was ahead when he picked up ASpade Suit QHeart Suit on the button and limped, enticing Angelov to shove for 13 big blinds with KSpade Suit 7Club Suit. The board came down queen high and Angelov was eliminated in second place ($670,140). The Bulgarian now has more than $1.2 million in lifetime cashes to his name.

Patrik Antonius and Luca Marki Top Record High Roller Fields

Patrik Antonius bested a record-setting field of 72 entries in the €100,000 no-limit hold’em super high roller event, earning $2,124,835 as the champion.

This was the third multi-million-dollar tournament score on the Finnish poker pro’s résumé. This narrowly edged out the $2,100,00 he earned as the third-place finisher in a $200,000 buy-in Triton Charity Invitational event last spring to become his second-largest payday behind the $3,151,734 he secured as the runner-up in the 2018 Super High Roller Bowl China.

The 43-year-old now has nearly $21.5 million in career earnings on the circuit to go along with his haul from decades atop the live and online cash game scene.

In addition to the title and the money, Antonius also earned 840 POY points as the champion. This was his third final-table finish of the year. With 2,034 total points, he has climbed into 33rd place on the overall leaderboard.

This event was officially the largest EPT Monte Carlo super high roller yet, regarding field size. It topped the previous record of 71 entries set in 2015 by one, with the resulting prize pool of $7,544,275 being split among the top 11 finishers.

Germany’s Christoph Vogelsang earned $1,370,844 as the runner-up. The 2017 Super High Roller Bowl champion now has more than $34 million in lifetime earnings.

The multi-day €25,000 buy-in high roller also set an attendance record with 247 entries, resulting in more than $6.4 million being paid out among the top 31 finishers. The final 15 all earned six figures or more, with seven-figure payouts for the champion and runner-up.

Switzerland’s Luca Marki walked away with $1,172,848 after striking a deal with Mauricio Salazar Sanchez, who earned $1,026,000 for second place. This was his largest live score yet, topping the $655,290 he earned for a runner-up showing in an EPT Paris high roller earlier this year.

Marki also scored 1,428 POY points for this victory. Combined with the 1,750 he was awarded for his aforementioned deep run in France, he now sits in seventh place in the POY rankings with 3,178 total points.

Other Notable Victories

The €30,000 buy-in no-limit hold’em event at this stop drew 77 entries, with Bulgaria’s top tournament earner Alex Kulev adding another big score to his name. The bracelet winner and 2023 EPT Monte Carlo €100,000 event champion walked away with $684,056 for his efforts.

This was the fifth-largest score of his career. He also finished ninth in this year’s six-figure buy-in at this festival for another $235,764. He now has nearly $10.9 million in career tournament earnings.

Next up on the high-stakes agenda was the first of several €25,000 buy-in no-limit hold’em events. Japan’s Masashi Oya was the last player standing from a field of 70 total entries. He earned $544,644 after defeating Steve O’Dwyer heads-up for the title.

This was the third recorded title for the 2023 WSOP Paradise $100,000 buy-in event winner. He now has more than $6.7 million in lifetime earnings, with this being his second-largest score yet. Oya went on to make three high-roller final tables during this festival, cashing for more than $1.4 million. With 2,322 total POY points, he has claimed the 23rd-place spot in the standings.

Jose ‘Nacho’ Barbero is backing up his breakout performance on the live circuit in 2023 with another solid run in 2024. The Argentinian finished third in last year’s POY race and has already made four final tables and won two titles this year.

His latest saw him best a field of 79 entries in the €50,000 buy-in high roller. Barbero earned $1,165,633 for the win, as well as 714 POY points, which was enough to put him just outside the top 30 on the leaderboard.

The next €25,000 buy-in on the schedule attracted 65 entries. Maher Nouira emerged victorious, defeating Oya heads-up to secure the title and $398,747. The two struck a deal to redistribute the prize money, and Oya walked away with the largest payout despite going on to finish second.

With 95 entries, the prize pool for the €10,200 buy-in no-limit hold’em event swelled to $995,220. A baker’s dozen made the money to earn a share of that pot, with the largest chunk ultimately captured by Stephen Chidwick.

The 35-year-old British poker pro walked away with $265,464 after overcoming Steve O’Dwyer heads-up for the title. This was Chidwick’s fourth win and 15th final-table finish of 2024. With 3,958 points he is now the second-ranked contender in the 2024 POY standings. Chidwick is well situated for a run at his third POY award, having already won in 2019 and 2022.

With this latest score, Chidwick has surpassed $58.2 million in career tournament earnings, the third most of any player in the history of the game. O’Dwyer cashed for $171,288 to bring his lifetime haul to $42.3 million, which is good for 14th place on the all-time money list.

The final high roller of the series was another single-day €25,000 buy-in affair. With 35 entries, the top six finishers split up a prize pool of $907,578.

Spain’s Juan Pardo ultimately triumphed, defeating all-time money leader Justin Bonomo heads-up to secure the title and the top prize of $313,146. Pardo now has $11.3 million in lifetime scores.

Bonomo was awarded $204,228 as the runner-up. The American now sits with more than $65.9 million in career cashes.

Four-time bracelet winner Adrian Mateos placed sixth for $64,594. This was already the sixth final-table finish of the year for the Spaniard, with more than $2.1 million in POY earnings accrued across those deep runs. He now sits in 11th place in the POY race heading into the summer.

The next EPT stop is set for Barcelona at the end of summer, with EPT Cyprus to follow in October and EPT Prague scheduled for December. ♠