The Full Monte
Monte Carlo Millions, Monte Carlo
The moment we stepped into our helicopter for the ten minute coastal hop from Nice to Monte Carlo it was clear that this trip was going to be different class. The Hermitage is a century old luxury hotel overlooking the bay and built in the grand Italian style, there was champagne waiting in every room and great food round every corner.
On the day of the main event I had to get up early to attend a press conference with Patrick Bruel, Matt Savage and Howard Lederer to introduce the Monte Carlo Millions and the Transatlantic Challenge to the world. Not surprisingly the mainly French journalists were mostly interested in Patrick who is almost as big a star there as Phil Helmuth in a pot limit Omaha game at the Vic. ‘Patrick’ one of them asked him ‘If you could only sing or play poker, which would one you choose?’ ‘I’ve heard you sing…choose poker!’ I advised helpfully, but Patrick of course gave a far more charming response.
I was drawn on about the fastest looking table. It included Dave Ulliot, Layne Flack, Phil ‘The Unabomber’ Laak and, on my left, a certain Mr Beevers. With 20,000 chips and a slow structure there was plenty of time and I found a few big hands but had a couple of set backs, one against Joe where my flush on the flop turned into his quads on the turn. A few hours in and with Dave Layne and the Unabomber already gone I moved up a gear and was winning a lot of pots. The wheel came off when Finland’s Juha Helppi made a great call against me. I had missed my thirteen outs and tried to get him off his over-pair. I was sure he was passing and - having just been moved off the featured table - was thinking ‘what a shame the cameras won’t get this’. Well, be careful what you wish for. He made the call for all his chips and went on to finish second behind another Finn – Jani Sointula.
Joe was playing very well and got up to about eighty thousand, Ross also got to day two but neither of them made the money. Day two’s unluckiest player was Xuyen ‘Bad Girl’ Pham who went all in with AJ against Chris Ferguson with his favourite A9. The nine sent her out on the bubble and Chris joined chip leader Phil Ivey on the final table.
I’ve got to just tell you my favourite story from our Dublin trip as I didn’t write a diary while we were there: One of the other players asked me who I rated as the world’s best tournament player. ‘Phil Ivey’ I said. ‘How about in Europe?’ he asked me.
‘I would have to say Marcel’.
‘You what?’ he replied, with an incredulous and unimpressed look on his face.
‘Marcel’ I repeated.
‘Oh…I thought you said “Myself”!’
I told this story to one of the Irish players who said. ‘The funny thing is Marcel would have given the same answer!’
Meanwhile back in Monte Carlo the Transatlantic Cup was our best remaining chance of success. The draw had already taken place and the order of play was as follows:
Ram vs. Andy Bloch; Ross vs. Paul Wolf who was a late substitution for a sick Howard Lederer; Joe vs. Phil Ivey and finally me against their Captain Chris Ferguson.
Ram’s game was an exciting up and down affair. Having lost half his chips he was all-in with top pair against a four flush and an Ace. He won this and soon had Andy all-in holding A6 against Ram’s A7 on a flop of A87. Andy managed to split the pot and get Ram all in holding A3 against A7. The kicker played and we were 1-0 down.
Ross played the longest match, winning all the small pots whilst Wolf got the big ones. Ross made more comebacks than the Terminator but when he got all-in Paul hit one of his nine outs to make the match 2-0.
Joe hit the ground running and in what was now a crucial match, never went behind. He called quickly when Ivey moved all-in with two eights and to our relief rolled over…two nines! Perfect.
I now needed to beat Chris Ferguson to force the match to a play-off. We played two hours before the film crew asked for a dinner break and in that time there was not a fag paper between us. I only ever found one pair and had bluffed every big pot I’d won. I suspect it was much the same for Chris. Back from the break with level chips it did not take long for the crucial hand to develop. I checked raised Chris all-in holding 9,10 on a flop of 8,7,3. I knew he had a pair but his call with K,8 was not an easy one. I missed my fourteen outs and the first ever Transatlantic Cup went to Chris’ US team.
Apart from the actual result, the event could not have gone better. Four long, closely fought matches were played out for the cameras in a great spirit by eight people playing at the top of their game. The US team are worthy champions, but I was proud of the way The Mob played and am confident that we will have a great chance in the return match. What we have created is the start of a true Ryder Cup type event for poker. With Prima’s sponsorship and world wide TV coverage assured the event is going to grow into one of the biggest features of the international poker calendar.
One of Matt Savage’s great innovations at the MCM was the consolation tournament with took place on the same day as the Transatlantic Cup. Everyone who played it got paid and everyone who did not make the final of the main event was eligible, although it looked like the field would be thinned a bit when Dave Ulliot, Scotty Nguyen and a dozen others decided to fly to Amsterdam instead. Think you’ve heard every bad beat story there is? Well lightening struck their plane and it turned round in time for them to come back and play the consolation. Marvellous.
During a break in the Transatlantic Cup I slipped away to play one hand in the consolation event. I managed to talk Layne Flack into putting in his chips in with way the worse of it, but all I proved was that this was a week when my chips would go a long way – for who ever got them. Layne tore the final apart in fourty-eight minutes to take the $40,000 first prize a marked contrast to the main event final (first prize $400,000) which – in a tribute to Matt Savage’s structure – ran for about ten hours.
There was one final event on the Monte Carlo schedule. The wedding of Matt Savage and Mary Ann Portugal to which it was our honour to be invited. It was a lovely do, none the less so for being officiated by a cross between Inspector Clouseau and Jonathan Ross. I’d like to wish them every happiness and to thank them for making sure that - at least in this final event – we got our share of the cake!
Full Result $ 14,000 Main Event Monte Carlo Millions
Salle Francois Blanc, Monte Carlo
Monday 8 - Thursday 11 November 2004 - 79 entries
1st Jani Sointula $ 400,000
2nd Juha Helppi $ 200,000
3rd Phil Ivey $ 100,000
4th Krister Hansson $ 75,000
5th Vincent Napolitano $ 50,000
6th Daniel Larsson $ 40,000
7th Chris 'Jesus' Ferguson $ 30,000
8th Annand Ramdin $ 25,000
9th Kevin O'Connell $ 20,000
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