The anticipation and hype of the Epic Poker League debut turned into reality as, for four days, 137 of the most talented poker players in the world took their seats in the first $20,000 EPL main event. Despite some notable omissions, the field offered a look at the elite competing against the elite and as a result, it was no surprise the final table included some true stars of the game.
According to the EPL, David "Chino" Rheem defeated Erik Seidel heads-up for the title and the $1 million top prize. The win was Rheem's third seven-figure score (his previous two: seventh in the WSOP main event, champion of WPT's Five Diamond) and his fifth cash of the year. He has earned $5.7 million through tournament earnings during his career.
"I'm proud to be the first Epic Poker League main event champion," Rheem said. "This league is setting a new standard for poker players and I'm committed to using this win as an opportunity for a fresh start."
That fresh start he's referring to may be regarding Rheem's previous backing situation and the troubles that have been publicly discussed by those backers on the 2+2 poker forums. Rheem commented further on this topic on Twitter stating, "Ya, I won a million bucks! And I'm still broke! But I feel better than ever!"
Rheem, who stated he was "humbled" to be playing Seidel heads-up, entered their battle with a small lead. After the two traded the chip lead at the start, Rheem made a run and won 24 of the 38 hands played before the final confrontation which featured Rheem's A-K against Seidel's A-Q. Rheem's hand held and he ran to the rail to celebrate with Michael Mizrachi, Greg Mueller and a number of other pros who were there to support him.
"The cards really fell my way in the heads-up match," Rheem said to the EPL. "I hit everything versus him and it's hard to beat someone who is running real good, and I was running real good."
The second-place finish earned Seidel $604,330, an impressive amount that is amazingly his fifth-best payday of the year. He's earned $6.2 million in 2011 and $16.6 million throughout his impressive career. Both Rheem and Seidel have earned their spots in the Season 1 championship (a $1 million freeroll). The championship is open to the top 27 players with the highest earnings during the four Season 1 stops.
"It was a real thrill to participate in the final table of the first ever Epic Poker League main event," Seidel said. "It was one of the more exciting final tables I have ever played. What's special about this league is that the best players in the world compete against each other and ensure that fans will see high-level play across the board. I can say with certainty that the Epic Poker League is good for poker and puts players first. I think it deserves the complete support of the entire poker community."
Seidel, ESPN.com's second-ranked player, has earned the No. 1 spot in Epic's Global Poker Index. Jason Mercier, ESPN's No. 1 and now GPI's No. 2, finished in third. Mercier has earned $1.5 million in 2011 and $6.7 in his live tournament career.
The six-handed final table also included Huck Seed, Gavin Smith and Hasan Habib. Two players who earned their way in through the Pro/Am, Brandon Meyers and Dan Fleyshman, turned their $1,500 investment into five-figure scores. The next Epic event will run from September 2-9.
Below are the complete results of the first Epic Poker League stop of Season 1:
Epic Poker League: Season 1, Main Event
Prize pool: $3,140,000
Players in the money: 18
1. David Rheem ($1,000,000)
2. Erik Seidel ($604,330)
3. Jason Mercier ($360,970)
4. Hasan Habib ($237,560)
5. Gavin Smith ($154,260)
6. Huck Seed ($107,980)
7. Adam Levy ($70,960)
8. Eugene Katchalov ($70,960)
9. Brandon Meyers ($70,960)
10. Isaac Baron ($49,360)
11. Sam Trickett ($49,360)
12. Ted Lawson ($49,360)
13. Noah Schwartz ($43,190)
14. Matt Glantz ($43,190)
15. Dan Fleyshman ($43,190)
16. Hafiz Khan ($43,190)
17. Hoyt Corkins ($43,190)
18. Justin Bonomo ($43,190)