High stakes poker tournaments have always attracted the best players from across the world. The Big One for One Drop, the poker tournament with the highest buy-in and prize money, saw Antonio Esfandiari take home a gigantic sum of over $18 million. The latest high roller tournaments may not be giving away such huge amounts, but there have been a few where the winner’s prize money exceeded $5 million. One such winner is Stanley Choi, who won the 10th largest tournament prize in the world of poker. Jason Mercier is another poker champ who has managed to push his WCOOP 2012 earnings to over a quarter of a million, after winning the 8-game high stake tournament during the event.
Choi Emerges Victorious in Macau
The Macau High Stakes challenge had a buy-in of USD 257,854 (HK$ 2,000,000), and a total prize pool of $23,511,128. The event, which took place at the StarWorld Hotel and Casino in Macau on August 31, had over 70 entrants, of which 21 players had used their single Re-buy option. Thanks to its massive prize pool, the High Stakes Challenge is being considered as one of the biggest high roller events, outside the WSOP’s Big One for One Drop, which had a buy-in of $1 million. Apart from that, only two other high-roller events at the Aussie Million had a buy-in exceeding $100,000. Both the high-stakes events had a buy-in of $250,000 each and offered prizes that ran over a million AUD. However, these events did not feature a re-buy option, or attract as many players as the one in Macau did.
Besides Choi, a number of other poker pros took part in the Macau High Stakes Challenge. Among them were Igor Kurganov, Erik Seidel, Tom “Durrrr” Dwan, Andrew Robl and Gus Hansen. Phil Ivey finished 8th and collected 140 Player of the year points, and took home $822,941. Other big players who took home a substantial sum include John Juanda at the 5th place ($1,645,753), Sam Trickett also at the 5th place ($999,184), Alan Sass at 9th place ($705,360), Philipp Gruissem in 10th ($587,778), Di “Urindanger” Dang in 11th place ($587,778) and J.P. Kelly in the 12th ($587,778).
On the whole, the top poker tournament prize winners above Choi, who is currently 10th on the money list, include Antonio Esfandiari (first place), Jamie Gold who won $12,000,000 at WSOP 2006 (second place), and Peter Eastgate who bagged $9,152,416 at the WSOP Main Event in 2008 (third place). Jonathan Duhamel is at the 4th place (WSOP Main Event 2010 – $8,944,310) and Pius Heinz at the 5th place (WSOP Main Event in 2011- $8,711,956). Joe Cada, Jerry Yang, and Joe Hachem are in the 6th, 8th and 9th places respectively, and all have bagged the highest amount in the WSOP main events. Stanley Choi is the only player in the top 10 prize winners list, to have won the amount outside the WSOP events.
Mercier Bags $253,425 in WCOOP High-Roller Event
On September 24th, Jason Mercier emerged victorious at the final table of the World Championship of Online Poker high Roller event, which had a buy-in of $10,300. The US poker pro was among the hundreds of players who had qualified for the event, and managed to beat them all, including a few big names, to the top prize. The top 12 players of the high-roller event included Gozoboro ($169,725), Daniel “KidPoker” Negreanu ($130,200), Niki “RealAndyBeal” Jedlicka ($88,350), BensBenz ($65,100) and gunning4you ($48,825).
Mercier apparently had a series of losses this year, and this has been one of his few wins. So far, the player has managed to win just $282,280, of which $253,425 was from the WCOOP. Sadly, the figure is not even big enough to cover the pro’s buy-in expenses.
His passion for the game and his desire to win big and make up for the losses he incurred this year is what drives Mercier, who headed off to the WSOPE tournament soon after winning the WCOOP event. So far, the poker professional’s online tournament winnings amount to $1,559,648, which is quite impressive. Hopefully, this online victory should give him a much-needed boost for winning the next online poker tournament (Florida Pro’s 2012) and the WSOPE events in Cannes.