Canada’s Mike Watson Takes Down EPT Monte Carlo Main Event

Posted on: May 8, 2023, 07:34h. 

Last updated on: May 8, 2023, 11:55h.

The European Poker Tour (EPT) Main Event has come to a close, with a longtime Canadian player taking the pot. Mike Watson was the top finisher after cutting a deal with Germany’s Leonard Maue to add €749,425 (US$749,425) to his poker bankroll.

Mike Watson at a poker table during a tournament
Mike Watson at a poker table during a tournament. The Canadian poker pro won his second EPT Main Event title in Monte Carlo. (Image: World Poker Tour)

The Main Event attracted 1,098 entries, setting a new record and pushing the prize pool to €5,325,300 (US$5.87 million). Although Watson ultimately emerged at the top of the stack, he didn’t have an easy road to get there.

On Day 4 of the tourney, the 2016 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure (PCA) winner faced elimination. Only one card separated him from a long plane ride back home, but he found it and stayed alive. It was almost smooth sailing from there.

The Monte Carlo Main Event had a buy-in of €5,300 (US$5,847) and 323 players doubled down to stay alive. By the time Jason Wheeler bubbled in seventh place, all were on the rail or heading home.

Experience Pays Off

Watson has proven himself on the virtual and online felt. He has amassed well more than $19 million in lifetime earnings since his first live cash in 2006, and has 10 Championship of Online Poker titles to his credit.

That experience allowed Watson to keep his cool as he fought back from what should have been an elimination to rule the table on Day 6. Watson now joins an exclusive group of four players to have won at least two EPT Main Event titles. He shares that space with Vicky Coren-Mitchell, Mikalai Pobal, and Swedish player “WhatIfGod,” who won two EPT Online Main Events.

Heading into the final table, Watson was second in chips, only slightly behind Leo Worthington-Leese. The cards continued to fall in Watson’s favor, although the same can’t be said for Worthington-Leese. Players were able to chip away at his stack until they finally pushed him out in third place for €397,450 (US$438,506).

That left only Watson and Maue to face off in the final heads-up battle. The eventual winner was ahead in chips, but they decided to cut a deal instead of playing out the fight.

The deal gave Watson €716,085 and Maue €697,175 (US$790,056 and $769,193, respectively). The only thing left was to play for the title and the €33,340 (US$36,784) that was still on the table.

Maue continued to give up his remaining chips to Watson before trying a last-ditch effort to bluff while holding nothing. Probably feeling confident with his run, Watson called with a boarded two pair to take the game. The runner-up had tried to hit a straight and missed, and Watson didn’t fall for the trap.

Badziakouski Bounce Back

Last year, Belarusian poker pro Mikita Badziakouski fell to Adrian Mateos in the $100K EPT Monte Carlo High Roller event. He failed to fool Spain’s top player in a bluff, but found a little bit of redemption this year.

In the €25K (US$27,582) High Roller, Badziakouski found himself going up against England’s Ben Heath. They fought for the title before deciding to chop the tournament, with one final hand cementing the eventual winner’s place.

Badziakouski held 3-2, while Heath had 5-4, and a 3 on the flop gave the leading Belarus player a pair. Heath didn’t find any help on the turn or river, giving Badziakouski the game and €938,042 (US$1.03 million). Heath took home €801,068 (US$883,818).

Mateos was in the game as well, which probably brought back bad memories for Badziakouski. He had a deep run, but only made it to 12th place before being eliminated.