[toc]For the second year in a row, a German pro topped the elite Aria Casino Super High Roller Bowl. Poker pro Christoph Vogelsang topped a field of 56 runners in the $300,000 buy-in Las Vegas casino event to take home $6 million.
Last year, German Rainer Kempe took down the top prize, defeating fellow countryman Fedor Holz heads-up to win $5 million. This year, Vogelsang and another German, Stefan Schillihabel, both made the top three. Jake Schindler of Pennsylvania finished in second place, collecting $3.6 million.
Vogelsang came from behind to win prestigious Vegas event
Vogelsang was in the middle of the pack when the money bubble burst with seven players remaining. However, when he returned as part of the final three on Thursday, he trailed far behind chip leader Schindler.
Schindler began three-handed play second in chips, but with half the stack of Schindler. After Schillihabel quickly exited in third place, the heads-up battle began with Vogelsang sitting on a similar 2:1 disadvantage. The heads-up battle lasted five hours. Over that time, stacks flip-flopped, but Schindler battled back, much like Vogelsang did.
In the end, Schindler elected to shove all in as a bluff on the river on the final hand. Vogelsang called with two pair, which easily beat Schindler. With that, the event was over and Vogelsang was the champion. He spoke to Poker Central about his performance:
“I’m just happy and it came unexpectedly, because I didn’t have a lot of chips and was up against a really good player. It’s great, I feel good. It’s such a great tournament – it’s got the best structure ever and the Aria is doing such an amazing job, and I hope I can play here again.”
Kevin Hart headlines Super High Roller Bowl field
The 56-player field featured basically every big-name poker pro in the game. The name which drew the most attention was comedian Kevin Hart though. The celebrity busted on the second day of play, but not before taking out Holz and all-time World Series of Poker (WSOP) bracelet winner Phil Hellmuth.
Hart was the most famous amateur in the tournament, but not the only one. Some of the other recreational players in the field include sports bettor Haralabos Voulgaris, investment banker David Einhorn, and businesswoman Lauren Roberts. Cary Katz was also in the field. Katz founded a student loan company before launching Poker Central in 2015. Poker Central is a media company which hosted the event on its new subscription poker service, PokerGO.
Leon Tsoukernik and Justin Bonomo clashed on and off the felt
The top-finishing amateur was casino owner Leon Tsoukernik, who took fourth. Tsoukernik owns Kings Casino in the Czech Republic, which will host WSOP Europe later this year.
One player who might not make the trip across the pond is seventh-place finisher Justin Bonomo. Tsoukernik and Bonomo clashed at the final table. Tsoukernik took issue with Bonomo’s decision not to follow the protocol for players showing their hole cards to the RFID readers on the table, which capture that information. Bonomo put his cards on the reader, but only after the hand was over.
Tsoukernik openly chastised Bonomo on the final table livestream, questioning his professionalism. He later spoke to PokerNews and went so far as to suggest Bonomo should have been disqualified.
For the record, no players were disqualified or penalized for their actions at the final table. However, after an apparent talk with the production team on a break, everyone at the table did return to standard hole card protocol.
After just three years, tournament rivals WSOP Main Event in prestige
Since its launch in 2015, the Super High Roller Bowl quickly established itself as the premier high roller event of the season. Thanks to its higher than average buy-in of $300,000 and position on the calendar just before the WSOP, the tournament quickly found a following. Players are already referring to it as the biggest tournament of the year. Additionally, it is considered one of the toughest fields there is as well.
Unlike other high roller events, this one does not suffer from small field sizes or a fast structure where luck plays too big of an element in the results. It also helped the tournament began as a televised event on CBS Sports before transitioning into PokerGO’s select package of livestreamed events.
In many ways, the tournament fills the void left by the World Poker Tour (WPT), which used to host high buy-in, high profile events at Bellagio at the beginning and end of the summer. Now that WPT is shifted its tour to smaller buy-ins with bigger fields, Super High Roller addresses the void by providing a tournament which will deliver an all-star, can’t miss final table line-up year in and year out.
Here are the final table results from this year’s Super High Roller Bowl:
1st: Christoph Vogelsang – $6,000,000
2nd: Jake Schindler – $3,600,000
3rd: Stefan Schillihabel – $2,400,000
4th: Leon Tsoukernik – $1,800,000
5th: Byron Kaverman – $1,400,000
6th: Pratyush Buddiga – $1,000,000
7th: Justin Bonomo – $600,000