Michael Watson defeated a field of 1,098 entries to take over 2023 Monte Carlo European Poker Tour €5,300 no-limit hold’em main event title. For the win, the 39-year-old Canadian poker pro earned $801,885 in prize money and the honor of becoming only the third highest-earning player in history EPT main event titles, joining Victoria Coren Mitchell and Mikalai Pobal.
“I couldn’t be happier with the result,” Watson said PokerStars reporters after coming out on top. “It’s definitely something I’m really excited about. I’ll keep trying to build on top of that, of course. But it’s definitely a huge achievement.”
“Winning two main events on the same tour is really, really hard to do,” Watson said. “I think it’s definitely up there, possibly the greatest achievement of my poker career and I’m really happy about it.”
Watson’s first EPT the main event victory came in 2016 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure. He topped a field of 928 entries in that tournament to bank nearly $730,000. He also has a Poker World Tour main event win on his behalf, after defeating 2008 WPT Bellagio cup for nearly $1.7 million.
Watson now has just under $20 million in recorded tournament earnings, placing him fifth on Canada’s all-time cashes list.
The latter win saw Watson earn 1,920 Card player Player of the Year Points. It was his third title and fifth final table of the year. With 3,240 total points and over $2.3 million to date POY extension earnings, Watson is now ranked seventh in 2023 POY extension race classification presented by Global Poker.
THE EPT Montecarlo the main event took place over the course of seven days in the Salle Des Étoiles of the Monte-Carlo Sporting in the principality of Monaco along the Côte d’Azur. The event featured two initial flights on April 30 and May 1, and then allowed another five days for the 1,098-entry field that proved to be a champion by the end of registration.
The top 159 finishers cashed in this event, with established players such as bracelet winner Orpen Kisacikoglu (40th), PokerStars Players Championship winner Ramon Collilas (32nd), 2023 PC extension main event runner-up Pedro Neves (20th), bracelet winner Peter Aerts (17th), 2021 EPT Members main event champion Artur Martirosian (14th) and bracelet winner Jason Wheeler (7th) are all in the running. Wheeler’s elimination to Leo Worthington-Leese ended day 5, with Worthington-Leese just edging Watson for the chip lead when his set of sixes held against Wheeler’s flush draw.
Watson was able to get back to the top of the leader board in early action on the final day. He then extended his chip lead with a preflop cooldown that saw his pocket jacks outpace bracelet winner Arnaud Enselme’s pocket tens (6th – $193,563).
Samy Boujmala was next to fall, with most of his stack going to Worthington-Leese when pocket queens held against Boujmala’s pocket jacks. Boujmala then moved into the rest of his stack with KQ behind Worthington-Leese’s AQ. Both players punted for queens, but the top kicker for Worthington-Leese earned him the pot. Boujmala took home $251,611 in fifth place.
Joachim Haraldstad posted his last six or so big blinds preflop with K-6 from the small blind. Watson called with 10-8 suited and flopped trip tens to take a massive lead. He ended up making a flush to eliminate Haraldstad (4th – $327,153).
Not long after, Worthington-Leese moved all-in with a 973 flops with 105 for a flush draw. It was against the Jj by Leonard Maue. The 5 the turn gave Worthington-Leese a pair for a few more outs, but the 6 he finally eliminated him in third place ($425,272).
Watson entered heads-up with 17,500,000 to Maue’s 15,425,000. The two struck a deal to redistribute the remaining prize money which left nearly $36,000 and the title to play for.
Maue overtook the lead early on, but Watson soon won a big pot with his top pair and king kicker to beat the same pair with a six kicker for Maue. That hand gave Watson a 3:1 lead. Maue was nearly even again at one point, but Watson was able to extend his chip lead back to 2:1 when the final hand was dealt. Watson raised from the button with 109 and Maue defended his big blind with 43. The flop came 1075 and Watson made a continuation bet when he checked. Maue check-raised with his gutshot straight draw and Watson called with top pair. The turn brought the A, requiring checks from both players. The 7 he eventually cleared the board and Maue moved all-in. Watson thought about it for a few minutes before calling to take down the pot and the title. Maue earned $745,977 as the runner-up, the largest live tournament mark ever by the German professional poker player.
Here’s a look at payments and POY extension points awarded in the last day:
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Photo credit: Danny Maxwell / Rational Intellectual Holdings Ltd.