The 2015 PokerStars.com EPT Season 12 Malta €25,750 High Roller final started with eight seasoned players hungry for a title including two Canadians: Sam Greenwood with the chip lead and Mike McDonald trailing. All were ready, however all but one would eventually fail in their objective. That man was Mike 'Timex' McDonald who topped a field of 74 entrants to win the €498,575 top prize and his first high roller title.
|3||Nick Petrangelo||United States||€232,065|
|4||Jason Wheeler||United States||€178,580|
|5||Byron Kaverman||United States||€141,415|
2013 November Niner Sylvain Loosli was the first to go. After losing a big flip with ace-king to Byron Kaverman's queens, he was severely short stacked. He busted not much later to McDonald after getting it in preflop with queen-eight against king-deuce. A king on the flop sealed the deal for McDonald.
Loosli's countryman Benjamin Pollak was next to go and just like that the table was free of French players. Again it was McDonald doing the dirty work, making him the French "angstgegner" (most-feared opponent) for future tournaments. Pollak pushed from the button with ace-deuce and ran right into McDonald's ace-jack. A jack on the flop was all it took for McDonald to score another knockout.
After numerous players doubled — Juha Helppi was especially getting lucky flopping a five with pocket fives all in preflop against kings — finally another player hit the rail. Sam Greenwood, who began the day as the chip leader, was on the bitter end of most equations when it came to showdowns, and he was the next to go. At one point he was leading with just 15,000 shy of 5 million in chips, but an orbit later he was the shortest stack at the table.
"What a fun orbit this has been for me!" Greenwood said with a feel for sarcasm after doubling up Jason Wheeler twice. Greenwood eventually fell to Helppi in a spot where he was already short and flopped bottom pair. Helppi had flopped top two and faded the two outs of Greenwood.
Kaverman followed Greenwood out the door. Kaverman had played a solid tournament and was extremely calm and collected at the final table. He had played his fair share of big pots but mostly gathered chips without showdowns. In the end he fell victim to Helppi's rise, calling a big shove with ace-jack. Kaverman must have thought Helppi wouldn't make that move with real big hands, but Helppi showed up with jacks nonetheless. A board full of blanks and Kaverman hit the rail in fifth place.
Wheeler, who qualified for the tournament in a satellite late on Day 1, finished in fourth position for €178,580. He too played a solid game but couldn't fade a setup of big hands in the end. He played the short stack game like a true master, but even he couldn't get away from ace-queen short-stacked and short-handed. Nick Petrangelo had ace-king suited and Wheeler ended up drawing dead on the turn.
The three remaining players had the clock paused to discuss a deal. Helppi, Petrangelo, and McDonald all seemed interested, but in the end a deal could not be agreed upon. Petrangelo was happy to just chop the remaining money and call it a day without playing any further, while Helppi and McDonald were more interested in setting some money aside.
The three decided on keeping €15,000 in the middle to play for, but Helppi wanted all three players to pay €5,000 to get to that prize. McDonald and Petrangelo didn't agree since Helppi had many more chips and a far bigger chance of winning the extra €15,000. In fact, with the €15,000 Helppi would almost have first place guaranteed, but the Fin didn't agree to put in €7,000 instead of €5,000. Just like that the three players decided to play it out without a deal in place.
Not long after, Petrangelo found ace-jack and ran into McDonald's ace-king. The board came no higher than an eight and McDonald and Helppi were heads up. Despite both being regulars on the EPT and both playing plenty of high rollers, both Helppi and McDonald were looking for their first EPT High Roller title.
Helppi started out in the lead, but during heads-up play it was all McDonald. The momentum, which had been in Helppi's corner the entire day, shifted completely, and not much later it was McDonald holding the trophy for the winner's photo.
In the last hand, McDonald limped in with king-jack and calmly called Helppi's shove with king-eight suited. By the time the turn was out, Helppi had only four outs for a chop, but he came up short and had to cede the victory to McDonald.
Be sure to check out McDonald's winner interview below: