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  1. [caption width="640"] Raffaele Sorrentino won the PokerStars Championship Monte-Carlo Main Event on Friday (Neil Stoddart/PokerStars)[/caption] When the PokerStars Championship Monte-Carlo Main Event final table kicked off on Friday afternoon, all eyes were on Andreas Klatt as he attempted to win his second event of the week. Italy’s Raffaele Sorrentino had other ideas though and eliminated the final four players, including Klatt, to grab the first major title of his career. Things got hectic quickly, as a short-stacked Diego Zeiter found a hand he wanted to go to battle with just over an hour after the final table began. After Klatt folded from UTG, Zeiter moved all in for 1,120,000 and action folded to Michael Kolkowicz on the button. He called and after both blinds folded, showed [poker card="as"][poker card="qd"] which was bad news for Zeiter who tabled [poker card="ad"][poker card="js"]. The [poker card="ah"][poker card="qc"][3]d flop seemingly ended early, but the [poker card="3h"] turn gave Zeiter two chop outs. The [poker card="6c"] river however wasn’t one of them and Zeiter was out in sixth. The remaining five players continued without elimination for nearly four hours before Sorrentino got busy and laid waste to everybody else in his way. Action folded to Sorrentino on the button and he raised to 330,000. Kolkowicz, who began the day as chip leader, moved all in for 1,970,000 from the small blind. Sorrentino called and showed [poker card="ac"][poker card="5c"], while Kolkowicz sheepishly turned over [poker card="6s"][poker card="2h"]. The flop cam [poker card="5d"][poker card="5h"][poker card="4d"] giving Sorrentino trip fives and leaving Kolkowicz hoping for running sixes or a three to complete gutshot. The [poker card="7d"] turn wa no help and neither was the [poker card="7s"] river to eliminate Kolkowicz in fifth. Just 30 minutes later, Sorrentino again raised to 330,000 from the button before Maxim Panyak raised all in for 1,900,000 from the small blind and Sorrentino called. Panyak was ahead with [poker card="ah"][poker card="th"] against Sorrentino’s [poker card="ks"][poker card="js"]. The [poker card="kd"][poker card="4s"][poker card="2s"] flop changed that and put Sorrentino ahead. Neither the [poker card="5h"] turn or [poker card="7c"] river were enough to save Panyak from a fourth place finish. It didn’t take long for Sorrentino to find another victim. Sorrentino raised to 370,000 from the small blind and Andrey Bondar defended his big blind. The flop came [poker card="8h"][poker card="5d"][poker card="4d"] and Sorrentino bet 425,000 and then called after Bondar raised to 1,200,000. The turn was the [poker card="6s"], Sorrentino checked, Bondar moved all in for 3,410,000 and Sorrentino called instantly. Bondar showed [poker card="jc"][poker card="8c"] for top pair but Sorrentino showed [poker card="6c"][poker card="5h"] for two pair. The river was the [poker card="9c"] to eliminate Bondar in third and send Sorrentino to heads up with a nearly 3-1 lead over Klatt. Klatt and Sorentino then decided to talk deal and after just a few minutes came to an agreement that saw Sorrentino take home €451,714 while Klatt earned €402,786, leaving €15,000 and the title to play for. Original payouts were supposed to pay €500,800 for first and €368,700 for the runner-up. After making the deal the final two players played 30 hands over a little over two hours before Sorrentino finished off his amazing run - but it took a cooler. Klatt raised to 450,000, only to have Sorrentino three-bet to 2,205,000. Klatt four-bet all in for 5,590,000 total and Sorrentino called. Klatt turned over [poker card="qh"][poker card="qs"] but got bad news when Sorrentino showed [poker card="ad"][poker card="as"]. The board ran out [poker card="qd"][poker card="2h"][poker card="2s"][poker card="kd"][poker card="2d"] to eliminate Klatt in second place and give Sorrentino his first major title. Klatt, who won the PokerStars National Championship Monte-Carlo earlier in the week, now heads to Amsterdam to attempt to cash in either the WPTDeepstacks event or World Poker Tour event to win the MonteDam Swing promotion put on by both tours. FINAL TABLE PAYOUTS Raffaele Sorrentino - €451,714 Andreas Klatt - €402,786 Andrey Bondar - €271,500 Maxim Panyak - €199,900 Michael Kolkowicz - €147,120 Diego Zeiter - €108,300
  2. After its successful event in Sochi, Russia PokerStars’ European Poker Tour continues on to the more comfortable climate of Monte Carlo, Monaco. From April 24 - May 4, the EPT returns to the Sporting Monte Carlo Casino for EPT Monte Carlo, the sight of some their biggest events in the history of the tour. Main Event Makeover When PokerStars removed the European Poker Tour branding in 2017 they saw a steep decline in attendees to their Monte Carlo stop. In 2017, for the PokerStars Championship, 727 players entered as compared to the 1,098 runners that packed the field for the EPT stop in 2016. The result not only saw a first-place prize reduced by over 50% but also revealed some much-needed tweaking to both the branding and the Main Event itself. PokerStars fixed the branding issue with the much-celebrated return of the EPT moniker, but in addition, they are looking to return the field size to its former glory as well. The Main Event, which gets underway on April 28, is a €5,300 tournament but this year they are allowing players a single re-entry. Not only does this change give players who travel a long distance the security that they can have a second chance at a big-time tournament should things go sideways early, but it will likely ensure more total entries, resulting in a healthier prize pool and larger payouts. The EPT Monte Carlo Main Event is joining the wave of events that are implementing the big blind ante. With a single player paying the ante for the entire table, helping increase the speed of play. Also, adding to the idea of players getting more hands per hour is the addition of a shot clock in the Main Event. From Day 2 through the end of the tournament, players will be on the clock with 30 seconds to make their decisions. Fan Favorite Event Another relatively new development for the PokerStars team has been the expansion of the coverage of their major events. When we last saw the EPT in 2016, streaming coverage had not included “cards-up” coverage until the tournament reached the final table. More recently, fans have been able to tune into the PokerStars.tv stream to watch the Main Event, essentially from wire-to-wire, getting to see the players’ holdings at the feature table. The broadcast crew has also been expanded. EPT anchors Joe Stapleton and James Hartigan are still front and center to bring you the action, but, as was debuted at the 2018 PCA, the company continues to expand their team by bringing a regular rotation of professional analysis. More than “pop-in” commentary, at the 2018 PCA we saw the likes of Lex Veldhuis, Maria Ho, Jonathan Little and Griffen Benger have the privilege to provide color commentary for long stretches of time giving viewers exceptional insight into what’s happening at the table. More Than Just The Main While the Main Event will draw the most attention the EPT stop players will have plenty of reasons to forgo the beauty of the French Riviera in favor of the action on the casino floor. Thirty-nine total events span the 11 day festival with buy-in ranging from as little as €220 up to the €100,000 Super High Roller. In fact, there are no fewer than eight events that have a buy-in of €10,000 or more, which is sure to bring out the best players in the world to fight for what is likely to be massive prize pools. History has shown that the pros love to make it out to Monte Carlo. Past winners of the Main Event include poker superstars such as Adrian Mateos and Steve O’Dwyer while last year’s €100,000 Super High Roller was won by GPI North American Player of the Year Bryn Kenney where he defeated a final table of high rolling elite talent including David Peters, Ole Schemion, Poker Masters inaugural winner Steffen Sontheimer and partypoker LIVE Barcelona 5$0K Super High Roller Winner Sam ‘Pudge714’ Greenwood. For fans of the game, PokerStars EPT Monte Carlo is shaping up to be quite the spectacle. One doesn't even need to make it to Monte Carlo in order to win as one viewer of the PokerStars stream is going to win themselves a coveted $30,000 Platinum Pass package to the 2019 PCA to participate in the PokerStars No Limit Hold’em Player Championship. So set aside some time and enjoy the PokerStars EPT Monte Carlo, festivities kick off on April 24.
  3. The European Poker Tour is back and with it a stop at one of its most storied locations - Monte Carlo Bay Hotel & Resort. For 11 of the previous 13 EPT seasons, the PokerStars tour held its massive Grand Final in beautiful Monaco. It was there that some of the most recognizable names in poker stepped into the spotlight after winning the most prestigious Main Event on the tour. Names like Adrian Mateos, Steve O’ Dwyer, Gavin Griffin and Mohsin Charania all have their names etched into poker history as EPT Monte Carlo Main Event champions. Now, with the EPT reclaiming their branding after a year of trying something different, it’s back to their old Monte Carlo stomping grounds from April 24 - May 4 with a €5,300 Main Event. But while the tournament will be played under the old EPT name, organizers are bringing a host of new features to make this era of the EPT something new. Game Changers PokerStars has adopted two of the most talked about advancements to tournament play in the past year: the big blind ante and tournament shot clock. While the big blind ante has been the topic of much debate in the poker community there’s one thing everyone can agree on - it speeds up the game. Dealers will no longer have to harass a table full of players to post their antes at EPT Monte Carlo, now just big blind will post the antes for the entire table keeping the action moving. The big blind ante format will be implemented in all of the schedules No Limit Hold’em events including the €5,300 Main Event and all of the High Roller events. Keeping with the theme of speeding up the game, the Main Event will also be utilizing a shot clock from Day 2 forward. The shot clock gives players 30 seconds to make any given decision. For those extra tough spots, like when you are considering folding a set of Kings on the river, players are six 30-second time bank card that allows an additional 30 seconds. The Move To Re-Entry As the EPT continues to recover from what was perceived as a down year, they have opted to rethink their stance on the Main Event being a complete freezeout. Players who enjoy the purity of tournament poker may prefer the “single bullet” format of one-and-done entries, but PokerStars understands that it needs to be accommodating to those players who travel a great distance to participate. No one wants to pay thousands for a flight and hotel only to get cooled off on the first hand. This season, they have placed a single re-entry on the Main Event, allowing players a second chance should things not go their way with their first buy-in. The Monte Carlo Main Event has two starting flights and so players are given the option to either re-enter in the same flight or, should they bust on Day 1A, they can pay to enter Day 1B. Platinum Passes Up For Grabs The ongoing, year-long PokerStars No Limit Hold’em Player Championship Platinum Passes promotion will, of course, be in play during EPT Monte Carlo. Over the course of the series, PokerStars will hand out six $30,000 Platinum Passes, over the course of the 11 days. The winner of the Monte Carlo Main Event, the winner of the €1,100 EPT National Event and two random draws on Day 2 of both of those events will all get passes. There is a €1,650 live satellite to the PSPC taking place on May 1 and organizers will add an extra pass to that event. Lastly, one lucky home viewer of the live stream will also find their way into the PSPC for free. Live Streaming From The French Riviera That last Platinum Pass will be awarded to those who tune in to the PokerStars.tv live stream that will cover the both the Super High Roller Final Table as well as the Main Event from Day 2 until a champion is crowned. Anchored by James Hartigan and Joe Stapleton, the seven straight days of streaming is very likely to be joined by some of the Team PokerStars Pros that are expected to be in attendance including Jake Cody, Liv Boeree, Igor Kurganov, Andre Akkari and Fatima Moreira de Melo. After the success of the EPT Sochi, which saw attendance in the main event increase from 387 players in 2017 to 861 in 2018, hopes are high for EPT Monte Carlo. The festival kicks on April 24 and should players be looking for one more innovation to help them book their travel, organizers have arranged for discounts on the notoriously expensive food in Monte Carlo. There's a 10% reduction on food in the poker room and players who enter any event will be given food vouchers.

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