The Epic Poker League’s inaugural tournament will wrap up this afternoon, with the final table of the $20,000 Six Handed No Limit Hold’em beginning at 2PM Las Vegas time.
The eighteen men who came to the felt on Thursday had in their sights the $1 million first place prize, but everyone would walk away with at least $43,190. The early pace was hectic, as Justin Bonomo would drop at the hands of Jason Mercier when Jason’s A-K found a King on the turn against Justin’s pocket sevens. Soon after Justin’s elimination, Hoyt Corkins found a hand he liked and stated, “I’m ready to go home,” as he called for his remaining chips against Adam Levy. Unfortunately, the “Alabama Cowboy” would be crushed, as his A-Q was dominated by Adam’s A-K, and he would leave in seventeenth place.
One of the qualifiers from the Pro/Am, Dan Fleyshman, was able to parlay that $1500 buy in into a nice payday in the EPL Main Event. His demise, however, would come at the hands of Gavin Smith. After Gavin raised initially and was called by Brandon Myers, Fleyshman would push the remainder of his stack to the center of the table. Gavin happily called and, after Myers released his hand, tabled a dominant pair of Aces over Fleyshman’s A-K. With Myers stating he had folded A-Q, all Gavin had to do was dodge anything freakish on the board, which he did, eliminating Fleyshman in fifteenth place.
Gavin would have an up and down day overall. Following his elimination of Dan Fleyshman, Gavin gave some of those chips to one of 2011’s biggest success stories, Erik Seidel, before earning a key double up against Levy. Smith would be responsible for taking out Eugene Katchalov in eighth place just before dinner and, after some well needed nourishment, the final seven players would return to the felt to determine the six-handed final table.
After the flurry of eliminations to get down to seven players, the pace became almost glacial as no one wanted to finish short of the historic first EPL final table. The seven men at the table – Hasan Habib, Seidel, Rheem, Smith, Levy, Mercier and Huck Seed (who had battled from a short stack throughout the day – would play over fifty hands before they would determine the final table.
The final hand of the night also would prove to be one of the most dramatic. After Chino Rheem opened the action to 40K, Adam Levy would make his stand with his entire chip stack. Chino wasted little time in calling and turned up pocket Kings against Adam’s Queens. The duo then saw the first part of the drama unfold as an A-A-Q flop hit the felt, pushing Adam into the lead. After an innocuous nine on the turn, Chino was left drawing to four outs (two Aces and two Kings) to eliminate Adam from the tournament. Miraculously, an Ace fell on the river to negate Adam’s boat, giving the hand to Chino Rheem’s bigger full house and eliminating Adam Levy in cruel fashion in seventh place, good for $70,960.
With Levy’s elimination, the final table of the EPL’s inaugural event was set. The players will line up as such when the cards hit the air this afternoon:
Seat 1: Hasan Habib – 1,655,000
Seat 2: Erik Seidel – 1,109,000
Seat 3: Chino Rheem – 1,432,000
Seat 4: Gavin Smith – 766,000
Seat 5: Jason Mercier – 1,495,000
Seat 6: Huck Seed – 396,000
To give you an idea of the credentials of the gentlemen who will battle it out this afternoon for the first EPL title, there are sixteen World Series of Poker bracelets among them, three World Poker Tour titles, a European Poker Tour championship, and roughly $45.3 million in winnings among them. It is, quite possibly, one of the best final tables that any tournament has seen in recent years.
The money these men will play for isn’t to be sneezed at, either. The winner of the tournament will walk away with a $1 million payday, while second place earns a nice consolation prize of $604,330. Whoever departs the Palms Casino Resort in sixth place today will still take away $107,980.
By late this evening, the first champion of the Epic Poker League will be crowned. What will be up for debate, however, is whether the first event has been a success or not. From a look at the entire week overall – from the Pro/Am, to the Charity Event, to the top professionals who came out for the first $20,000 buy in tournament – the Epic Poker League looks to have tapped into something that the poker world has long waited for.