Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Familiar Cast in Latest Super High Roller

The 2014 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure has finished, with the three headlining events -- the $100K Super High Roller, the $25K High Roller, and the $10K Main Event -- all generating a lot of excitement and interesting finishes, with each featuring final tables filled with a lot of familiar faces.

Looking at how the $100K Super High Roller finished up, the top eight finishers for that one contained exactly zero surprises. What I mean is, all eight were players we have seen doing well in high buy-in events before (and low buy-in events, too, for that matter). That got me thinking a little about the short history of these $100K-and-higher events and how we more or less see the same people participating in them every time out.

There was a double-bustout with nine players left in the PCA $100K Super High Roller, which meant only seven were present when the “official” final table began. Thus eighth-place finisher Mike McDonald did not make that photo of the final tablists above (courtesy Danny Maxwell/PokerNews). As it happened only the top eight finishers in the tourney cashed as there were 46 entries total.

Here were the final eight in the $100K Super High Roller (with payouts):

  • 1. Fabian Quoss ($1,629,940)
  • 2. Dan Shak ($1,178,980)
  • 3. Vanessa Selbst ($760,640)
  • 4. Antonio Esfandiari ($575,920)
  • 5. Matt Glantz ($445,520)
  • 6. Tony Gregg ($347,720)
  • 7. Ole Schemion ($277,080)
  • 8. Mike McDonald ($217,320)

  • It has only been a few years since these tournaments with six-figure buy-ins started popping up regularly at places like the PCA, the Aussie Millions, the WSOP (with its “One Drop” events), and elsewhere.

    Looking at these eight names and how all eight have turned up in high rollers/super high rollers frequently of late, my first suspicion was to guess that all of them had probably cashed in $100K-plus events before. I took a peek through Hendon Mob and found that wasn’t quite the case, but most had.

    Setting aside these last couple of invite-only PartyPoker Premier League tourneys with the $125,000 buy-ins in which all of the participants cash, it looks like six out of the eight cashers in the 2014 PCA $100K Super High Roller had cashed in six-figure buy-in events before.

    Winner Fabian Quoss finished third in the 2013 Aussie Millions A$250,000 Challenge to win A$750,000. Runner-up Dan Shak has cashed three times in Aussie Millions A$100,000 Challenges (winning in 2010 for a A$1.2 million prize), twice before in previous PCA $100K Super High Rollers (in fact he’s final-tabled that one three times in a row), and also cashed in the $111,111 One Drop High Roller at the WSOP last summer.

    Vanessa Selbst finished third in both the $25K High Roller and the $100K Super High Roller at the PCA this year, picking up more than $1.36 million between those two cashes. I’d thought she must’ve had a cash in a six-figure buy-in event, but I’m not seeing one among her eye-popping results (which now total more than $10 million in career earnings).

    Fourth-place finisher Antonio Esfandiari of course had the big win in the $1 million Big One for One Drop at the 2012 WSOP for a $18,346,673 prize. He also finished fourth in the follow-up $111,111 One Drop High Roller last year for another $1.4 million-plus.

    Last year fifth-place finisher Matt Glantz cashed in a couple of six-figure buy-in events, the $111,111 One Drop High Roller (finishing 13th) and the $100K WPT Alpha8 Florida event (finishing fourth). Tony Gregg, who took sixth at the PCA $100K Super High Roller, won the $111,111 One Drop High Roller at the WSOP last summer and the $4,830,619 first prize.

    Like Selbst, seventh-place finisher Ole Schemion doesn’t appear to have cashed in a $100K or higher buy-in event before this week, although he did finish sixth in the 2013 EPT Barcelona Super High Roller (a €50,000 event).

    And Mike McDonald who took eighth has some final tables in €50,000 Super High Rollers on the EPT, too, plus a third-place in the recent $100K WPT Alpha8 at St. Kitts. McDonald nearly won the Main Event last night as well, finishing runner-up and taking away close to $1.1 million after a deal at three-handed.

    Not really pointing out anything particularly surprising here by observing that this latest $100K event featured a lot of the same folks we’re seeing play the others. Stands to reason that those profiting in these events will be reappearing at future $100K final tables both because (1) by winning they’re replenishing their bankrolls enough to keep participating in them, and (2) they’re good players.

    The “super” high rollers still retain my interest, even if the narratives they create tend to feature the same characters and produce similar plots. And while the high-dollar buy-ins and prizes probably create some intrigue just because money generally does interest many, it’s really the poker that draws me in, which is almost always being played at a high level at these pro-filled final tables.

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