Thomas Santerne EPT Paris
Thomas Santerne took the EPT Paris Super High Roller for the biggest win of his poker career so far.

A home country hero, the biggest win of his career and a stunning showdown for the title – the €50,000-entry EPT Paris Super High Roller had it all. As the biggest buy-in event of this year’s first European Poker Tour stop attracted 64 total entries (including 13 re-entries), Thomas Santerne won his first major title to land over $961,000, representing the largest single result of his poker career by far, and one that totals way more than his entire live results altogether to this date.

Ponakovs Punished on the Bubble

With just eight players making the money, players such as Ben Heath, Teun Mulder, Dimitar Danchev, Byron Kaverman, Mike Watson, Bryn Kenney, David Coleman, Michael Jozoff, Sam Greenwood, Sam Grafton, and one of the two €25,000 High Roller winners, Daniel Dvoress all busted outside the money places.

With nine left, Ponakovs called all-in with Kc9c on a flop of KdQdTs, with Markkos Ladev of Estonia turning over KhKs. The Qh gave Ladev the full house and after a meaningless 9d on the river, the Latvian Ponakovs, who once beat Phil Ivey heads-up for a WSOP bracelet, was out and the remaining eight players were in the money.

Stephen Chidwick was short and wasted no time getting his chips into the middle, eventually seeing his AsJd overtaken by Ladev’s KcQc when a board of Js7c4hKs5c paired Chidwick’s jack on the flop but matched Ladev’s king on the turn. Chidwick’s cash for finishing eighth was €116,700, some way behind the €389,000 he banked for winning the second of two €25,000 high rollers in Paris earlier this week but a great result all the same.

Ladev’s Luck Runs Out

With seven players left, that meant the official final table had been reached. One more player needed to bust on Day 2, however, and that man turned out to be Swedish online phenom Niklas Astedt. His shove pre-flop with TsTh was called by Chris Brewer with AsKd and the flop of KsJd7c set the American ahead. A Qh on the turn gave Astedt an open-ended straight draw but a 6h on the river didn’t complete it and instead he was on the rail with $157,500.

As the third and last day’s action began, the six finalists were headed by Chris Brewer on 4.85 million chips, with Thomas Santerne slightly behind on 4.66m. Everyone else had less than half the top two’s chip stacks and as such, an imbalanced final table kicked off with two players having dual control of the action.

Sirzat Hissou was the first player to fall at the final table and busted in a three-way hand with Santerne and Pieter Aerts, himself a regular of the high roller scene, playing plenty of live events as well as battling online in the $10,300 weekly GGPoker GGMILLION$ for example on numerous occasions. Hissou’s Ad5s was a loser to Aerts’ Qc9c] when a board of 7s5c2cQd8h gave the Belgian top pair and sent the German player home with a sixth-place score of $204,900.

Soon, five became four. Day 2 had belonged to Markkos Ladev in its latter stages but Day 3 was a disaster for the Estonian as he busted in fifth for $267,900. Ladev shoved pre-flop for 16 big blinds with 3s3h and after asking for a count, Chris Brewer called with AdJs. A flop of AsQh9d immediately set Brewer into the lead and the 8d turn and 4h river ended the hand with Ladev on the rail.

French Resistance as Brewer Admits Being “Outplayed”

“Brewer is a great opponent and it was crazy to win against him.”

Down to four players, Dutchman Duco ten Haven was the man to leave next, his TdTc unluckily losing to Santerne’s Kd8d when the French player turned a flush with all the chips committed pre-flop. Ten Haven’s run to fourth was worth $346,600, with Aerts cashing for $457,000 in third as his flopped pair of kings lost to Santerne’s rivered pair of aces.

Winning that pot only improved Santerne’s comprehensive lead going into the final battle but if he thought heads-up would be easy against Brewer, a man who won two WSOP bracelets in 2023, he was wrong. Brewer began heads-up play almost 3:1 down in chips but soon had the lead after turning a straight and getting paid by Santerne who had only second pair on the board.

A vital pot won with quad queens for the home country player saw Santerne take the lead for the final time after a rollercoaster ride saw the advantage flip between both players for some hours. Brewer managed a fortunate double with Ks2d when Santerne’s 8s8h couldn’t hold, a king coming on the flop, but it was only a stay of execution for the American.

All-in with Kh6h, Brewer was a favorite to double in the final hand but couldn’t manage it against Santerne’s 9h8h. A board of Ts3h3d9s5s paired up the French player and he celebrated by far the biggest win of his poker career to date. Santerne, who had winnings of $496,519 in his entire career before bagging this epic top prize of close to a million dollars, he was almost speechless.

“It’s incredible, I feel a lot of emotion, it’s an insane title to win,” he said. “All the players [played] well so it feels really great. [Brewer is] a great opponent and it was crazy to win against him.”

Brewer himself was humble, crediting Santerne for a better heads-up performance. It was a classy response from an American poker icon.

EPT Paris 2024 €50,000 Super High Roller Final Table Results:
Place Player Country Prize
1st Thomas Santerne France $961,200
2nd Chris Brewer United States $630,300
3rd Pieter Aerts Belgium $457,000
4th Duco Ten Haven Netherlands $346,600
5th Markkos Ladev Estonia $267,900
6th Sirzat Hissou Germany $204,900
7th Niklas Astedt Sweden $157,500

Headline photograph by Global Poker Award nominated photographer Danny Maxwell for PokerNews.