Shakerchi Takes Shot in Big EPT Cash Game, Press Take Shots After
Among the stories emanating from the European Poker Tour’s season-concluding stop at the Monte Carlo Bay Hotel & Resort in Monaco was one concerning a high-stakes cash game taking place over the weekend. While the poker community followed the game with interest, others subsequently seized upon the involvement of Talal Shakerchi, the 49-year-old British hedge fund manager and founder of Meditor, a London-based asset management firm.
“Monte Carlo or bust: tycoon’s £850,000 gamble” announced The Times in the headline to their Tuesday article on the game. Other U.K.-based sites took their cue from The Times, including The Daily Mail, The Independent, and The Sun.
The tenor of much of that reporting casts Shakerchi’s participation as representative of a foolhardy and even unique lapse of good judgment, as indicated by The Sun’s headline “Hedge-fund tycoon blows £850,000 during high-stakes poker game.” There David Woode briefly reports that Shakerchi “joined five other fat cats” in the game and then subsequently “lost the eye-watering amount.”
Within the poker world the game was also treated as something noteworthy. Referring to portions of the game being broadcast via the EPT Live stream, Brad Willis noted on the PokerStars blog how it represented “almost certainly the largest cash game ever broadcast on TV or the Internet.”
However, despite the game’s eye-popping stakes, a few years’ worth of “super high roller” events around the world and last summer’s “Big One for One Drop” at the WSOP have somewhat tempered the poker community’s response to such events. Shakerchi’s involvement also raised relatively few eyebrows within poker, given his frequent participation — and success — on the professional tournament circuit over the past five years.
The game came about following several hours’ worth of speculation that a €1 million buy-in cash game might be taking place. Ultimately a €500,000 buy-in (minimum) game did finally come together on Saturday afternoon involving Shakerchi, Isaac Haxton, Viktor Blom, Sam Trickett, Paul Newey, and Niklas Heinecker.
The no-limit hold’em game featured €1K/€2K blinds and lasted over 12 hours. Haxton ultimately came away the game’s big winner, his night highlighted by winning a huge pot off of Shakerchi.
“Well, I cross winning a million euro pot off my bucket list,” Haxton deadpanned afterwards over Twitter.
Asked by a follower for details, Haxton explained how Shakerchi had open-raised to €7K from the cutoff, then he reraised to €23K from the button. It folded back to Shakerchi who four-bet to €52K and Haxton called. The flop came all spades — Js-8s-5s — and Shakerchi led for €75K. Haxton called, then a non-spade ace fell on the turn. Shakerchi bet €125K this time, and Haxton called once more.
The river brought a queen (again, not a spade), and this time Shakerchi checked. Haxton then pushed all in for €250K, Shakerchi called, and Haxton showed his Qs-Ts for a queen-high flush which was good. Haxton speculated later that Shakerchi had pocket aces and thus top set.
Haxton would continue to win while Shakerchi would continue to lose, with reporter Frank Op de Woerd (who live-tweeted extensively during the game) noting at one point that “Talal seems very unlucky and running very bad – can’t seem to win a hand.”
Eventually Blom and Trickett decided to leave the game, with Trickett’s departure hastened after a disappointing hand. “Got a ridiculous bad beat in a €560k pot so I quit snap!” he tweeted. Meanwhile, Blom tweeted he’d lost €400K in the game, though nonchalantly added he’d won $1 million on Full Tilt Poker afterwards “so we are good on the day!”
Not wanting to play short-handed, Newey left as well, and Shakerchi, Haxton, and Heinecker continued three-handed. The game finally broke after 5 a.m., with Op de Woerd reporting that Haxton ended with €1.503 million (up €1.03m), Heinecker with approximately €1.35 million (up about €350K after having rebought once), and Shakerchi with just €84,000.
All told, Shakerchi had bought in for €1.25m (according to Op de Woerd), meaning his loss totaled €1.16m, the equivalent of around $1.5 million or £985,000 (i.e., a little more than the U.K. press reported). The group had tentatively planned to resume play again on Sunday, but ultimately a second session never materialized.
While the aforementioned reports of Shakerchi’s participation focused on his amateur status and how he only played “as a hobby,” the poker community knows better, with his March victory in the £10,000 High Roller event at the EPT/UKIPT’s London stop for a £436,330 first prize still fresh in mind. Shakerchi was also one of 48 who participated in last summer’s $1 million buy-in “Big One for One Drop” where he was eliminated on the second day of the 3-day event.
According to Hendon Mob, Shakerchi has amassed over $1.63 million in tournament winnings since 2007. It is clear, however, that Shakerchi’s poker winnings — as well as his losses — represent only a small fraction of his net worth, estimated by some to exceed £100 million.
In other words for Shakerchi, last weekend’s game was hardly “Monte Carlo or bust.”