High rollers hit Cyprus; Ivey and Seidel make final table

Kat Martin Author Photo
Kat Martin
Posted on: August 23, 2021 16:12 PDT

The super high rollers flew into Cyprus today for a nine-event series at the picturesque Merit Royal Hotel, Casino & Spa. A gathering of some of the most famous faces in the game is sufficient to garner attention, but this event has a number of intriguing backstories.

As reported earlier by Poker.org, the Cyprus series marks the return to the felt of old-school poker bad boy, Antanas "Tony G" Guoga.

During the poker boom of the early 2000s, Guoga's ultra-aggressive table chat made him a polarizing figure in the community. Some argued that his in-your-face banter was entertaining and good for the game. Marcel Lüske, who actually knows what he's talking about, disagreed strongly when Tony G unleashed a barrage of insults during a 2005 WPT final table at the Aviation Club in Paris. According to Lüske, Tony G crossed a line.

Based on the early going in Cyprus, a decade away from the game has mellowed Tony G considerably. Or maybe he was in a good mood thanks to the sweet ride to the tournament provided by hosts Merit.

"On my way to the Super High Roller Series ⁦ @PokerGO⁩ ⁦ @luxonpay⁩ - thanks ⁦ @MeritPoker⁩ for the ride," tweeted Guoga from the comfortable cabin of a private jet.

Any tournament series in which the lowest buy-in is $25k is clearly designed for nosebleed-stakes players. The schedule in Cyprus is cunningly designed to maximize the draw for such contenders. In fact, it is unique. Of the nine scheduled events, five are no-limit hold'em, while the remaining four are all short deck.

Despite remaining largely unknown to causal players, the last few years have seen short deck become the game of choice for high-stakes players from Macau to Las Vegas. So what is the appeal of the game?

Played with a stripped deck of 36 cards, with the 2s through 5s removed, short deck offers a couple of major advantages to cash-game pros in search of wealthy recreational opponents.

First, with solver-based no-limit hold'em strategy entering the mainstream, the knowledge gap between pros and serious, well-heeled amateurs has narrowed. With short deck being deceptively similar to no-limit hold'em in terms of game mechanics, and a relative absence of available strategic theory, this gives the pros an advantage.

Second, correct strategy in short deck demands players enter far more pots than in no-limit hold'em. Anecdotally at least, such games attract action-oriented recreational players. The result is an acceleration of the fundamental thermodynamic laws of poker, in which ultimately all the chips end up with Phil Ivey.

Talking of Phil Ivey, he is one of seven players to reach the star-studded final table of Event #1 ($25K short deck) in this series. He's joined by Erik Seidel, fresh off his ninth WSOP bracelet win, and Chris Brewer, who just won over a million taking down a $50k high roller event in Florida. They'll face Xia Jiang He, Ihor Shkliaruk, Mikita Badziakouski, and chip leader Stephen Chidwick.

Featured image source: Facebook