It’s the event that changed poker’s landscape.
It turns mild-mannered men and women into war machines.
The Super High Roller Bowl (SHRB) has taken a vacation. Destination, London, and by the time you would have read this, the action in the £250,000 buy-in event would have already begun.
With 17-hours to go before kick-off, Poker Central is keeping their powder dry on who will be in the field. We know there is a 49-player cap, with 30 seats subject to a random draw, and 19 reserved for Poker Central and Aspers figurines to handpick the final bamboozlers and manipulators.
But not a single name.
So without a cast, I’m going to take a punt at the likely winners, should they be (a) in London, and (b) lucky enough to get a seat.
Bryn Kenney is in London, so I am reasonably confident we will see the man who makes bathrobes look cool competing in the game. Kenney’s goal is world domination, and events like this are in the war plan. Last month, Kenney finished runner-up to Aaron Zhang in the £1m buy-in Triton Million, but he banked the lion share of the money after agreeing upon a deal that saw him net £16.9m.
Kenney deposed Justin Bonomo at the top of the All-Time Money List after that win ($55.5m). It’s worth noting that ahead of the event, Kenney was the 2019 Money Leader with more than $9m taking from felts across the globe. Wins include the Aussie Millions Main Event, and two Triton titles in Montenegro.
Justin Bonomo held the high stakes poker scene to ransom in 2018, winning more than $25.4m (a record until Kenney’s 2019 exploits). Included in that haul were victories in the SHRB Las Vegas for $5m and the SHRB China for $4,8m. Add his win in the $1m Big One for One Drop, and we may not have a cast for this one, but we do have a man more than equipped to play the role of End Boss.
I interviewed Bonomo in London at the Triton Poker Super High Roller Series, and the man glowed. I got the impression that he could make sitting cross-legged look easy, and it showed on the felt winning the £100,000 Short-Deck Main Event for £2.67m. He was never going to improve upon his 2018 haul. However, it’s worth noting that the $5m he’s already secured this year, is his second-best annual performance of his life.
Stephen Chidwick is the Global Poker Index (GPI) World #1, and the man his peers believe to be the best in the world. They stitched that label into his hoodie many years ago, the only difference of late, is he’s turning 2nd and 3rd place finishes into wins.
The UK-born pro is one of the most consistent performers in the world. This year alone he has won titles at the US Poker Open, the British Poker Open (BPO) and captured his first gold bracelet at the World Series of Poker (WSOP). Include his epic performance at the Triton Poker Super High Roller Series in London (where he finished fourth in the big one for more than £4.4m), and who would bet against him.
Rainer Kempe has the t-shirt.
The German star conquered a field of 49-players in the 2016 SHRB, collecting a career-high $5m after beating his buddy Fedor Holz, heads-up. Until last week, Kempe had led the GPI Player of the Year (POY) for eight-weeks, until Sean Winter took his crown.
Kempe has won five tournaments this year and sharpened his toolkit by finishing runner-up to Sam Soverel, in a £25,100 No-Limit Hold’em event at the BPO.
It was interesting to watch a recent VLOG from Charlie Carrel explaining his omission from the Triton Million London event. Carrel explained how his backer, Orpen Kisacikoglu, bypassed him, because he hadn’t played poker for six-months, and he felt the game had passed him by.
Carrel responded by winning the £50,000 No-Limit Hold’em at the Triton Poker Super High Roller Series in London for £1.3m. He then travelled to Rozvadov and finished 7/510 in the MILLIONS Europe Main Event for €130,000 (he went into the final table with the chip lead). Then he turned up at the European Poker Tour (EPT) in Barcelona, making the final table of two €25,000 No-Limit Hold’em events.
Despite financial metrics being an unreliable indicator of form, Steve O’Dwyer’s 2019 is annus horribilis. The American star has pulled $1.5m (gross) from the live tables, but that’s his lowest haul since 2012.
Financial results aside, O’Dwyer, re-entered the GPI Top #10 after making the final table of the €50,000 and €100,000 No-Limit Hold’em events at EPT Barcelona. He also picked up two runner-up finishes in the BPO.
The Dark Horses
Luc Greenwood competed in 12 Triton events without cashing before making money, finishing runner-up to Linus Lloeliger, in the £25,000 No-Limit Hold-em Six-Handed Turbo at the Triton Poker Super High Roller Series in London. He then went to EPT Barcelona and finished fourth in the €50,000 No-Limit Hold’em before winning the opening £10,500 No-Limit Hold’em at the BPO.
Danny Tang has been a revelation since turning up at the Triton Poker Super High Roller Series in Montenegro and leaving with more than $2m in prize money. Tang proceeded to win his first WSOP bracelet, winning the $50,000 No-Limit Hold’em for $1.6m, and made two high roller final tables at EPT Barcelona, including a third in the €100,000.
Like Tang, Grafton is another player who has entered the high stakes stratum in sparkling form. The Squid made money in the $50,000 No-Limit Hold’em during the WSOP, finishing 11th, and then finished 13th in the $100,000. Grafton then finished 5/510 in the MILLIONS Europe Main Event in Rozvadov for €220,000, and later earned the most significant score of his career, finishing runner-up to Sergi Reixach in the €100,000 at EPT Barcelona for €1.3m.
The SHRB London starts on Friday 13 September and ends two days later.