• David Rheem Captures First Epic League Title

    ‘Chino’ Cashes for $1 Million

    It’s no surprise that a familiar face won the inaugural Epic Poker League main event at the Palms in Vegas, the league is based on the premise of inviting only the world’s best live tournament players.

    After four days of action, David “Chino” Rheem – of 2008 November Nine fame – took home the first Epic title and the million bucks that went along with it. Not only did he have to defeat a 137-strong field of sharks picked by a rigorous ranking formula, but he had to best red-hot longtime pro Erik Seidel heads-up too.

    Rheem, a Florida native, now lives in Los Angeles, and adds his winnings to his lifetime live earnings of $4,710,297. He also owns a WPT title.

    On the final hand of this 6-max tournament, Seidel pushed all-in with A-Q. Rheem, holding A-K, called and notched the win when Seidel failed to improve. CBS Television Network and Discovery Communications’ Velocity will broadcast the action from the Inaugural main event this fall.

    “I’m proud to be the first Epic Poker League main event Champion,” said Rheem. “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.”

    The elite final table included poker pros Erik Seidel, Hasan Habib, Jason Mercier, Gavin Smith and Huck Seed.

    “It was a real thrill to participate in the final table of the first Epic Poker League main event,” said Seidel. “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.”

    Rheem and Seidel have both secured their spots in the season-ending $1,000,000 Epic Poker League Championship Freeroll, which is open to the 27 players with the highest earnings in the four regular season Epic Poker League main events. With their respective earnings of $1,000,000 and $604,330, Rheem and Seidel are each guaranteed one of those 27 seats. The Epic Poker League Season One Leaderboard can be viewed on www.epicpoker.com.

    “Crowning our first main event champion was so exciting,” said Annie Duke, commissioner of the league. “The final table of this event featured some of the most skilled and most recognizable live tournament players in the world. It has been a pioneering week for the Epic Poker League at Palms Casino Resort and we thank every player who participated.”

    “We are pleased with the first event of Epic Poker League’s inaugural season and look forward to continued success on our property,” said George Maloof, owner of the Palms.

    Fifteen of the top 20 ranked players in the world, according to the Global Poker Index, played the first main event. As play neared the money, it became clear that a new GPI No. 1 would emerge as GPI No. 2 Erik Seidel, GPI No. 3 Jason Mercier, and GPI No. 4 Eugene Katchalov, were all poised to cash.

    With Katchalov finishing eighth, Seidel and Mercier began a battle for the top spot with the player who finished higher capturing GPI No. 1 and the other settling for GPI No. 2. Seidel’s second-place finish ahead of Mercier’s third secured Seidel the top spot of the GPI rankings.

    There are three more rake-free $20,000 main events set for the Palms, each with $400,000 in added money, and a $1,000,000 freeroll championship event for the top 27 players in the League. To be eligible to compete, main event players must earn membership determined by past performance (http://www.federatedinc.com/poker-league/qualification-criteria). A complete roster of players who have qualified for Season 1 of the league can be found at: http://www.federatedinc.com/poker-league/season-one-roster.

    The four Season One main events feature different formats of no-limit hold’em, including six-handed play, a heads-up tournament with an innovative seeding structure and a special multi-format tournament to round out the season. Each event week will include a Pro-Am event, a charity tournament, and a $20,000 buy-in rake-free main event.

    Rheem’s victory was not without a negative silver lining, however. After his win, the league took disciplinary action against him for allegedly failing to pay back money owed to other poker players, according to web reports. A league statement said Rheem would be on probation and that the his personal financial obligations were incurred prior to the league’s formation, “but impact the league.” The statement added that Rheem must use poker winnings to pay back players owed.

    The statement added that Rheem used his winnings to partially satisfy his obligations. Rumors have been swirling since early summer that Chino owes a lot of money and has also not paid off on lost prop bets.

    Before the final table started, Rheem tweeted: “Final table of the first @EpicPokerLeague main event! All I wanna do is win & do the right thing! I’m so close and it feels good knowing that!”

    The Payouts

    1. Chino 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

    In the second main event, in September, Mike “Timex” McDonald defeated David Steicke, beating 96 players to rake in $782,410. The Canadian, who is the youngest member of the EPL, beat a final table that included Nam Le, Dutch Boyd, Isaac Baron, Fabrice Soulier, David Steicke, Sean Getzwiller, and Erik Seidel, who now has nearly $6.3 million in earnings for 2011.

    McDonald battled it out with Steicke at the end of the eight-max event, as the Australian took $506,260 for his runner-up finish. On the final hand of play McDonald’s A-4 held against Steicke’s K-2.

    “I couldn’t have a better birthday gift than this,” said McDonald, who turns 22 on Sunday. “It was a tough day, against tough players at the table. The Epic Poker League is extremely competitive and it’s rare I’m at a table where I feel that many of the players are better than myself.”

    McDonald is also the youngest winner ever of a European Poker Tour event, and is a feared force online. He famously retired from poker over a year ago, but it is apparently a “working retirement.”

    They Payouts

    1. Mike McDonald  $782,410
    2. David Paul Steicke  $506,260
    3. Fabrice Soulier  $299,160
    4. Erik Seidel  $184,100
    5. Nam Le  $126,570
    6. Isaac Baron  $92,050
    7. Sean Getzwiller  $69,040
    8. Dutch Boyd  $57,530

    The third pro-am event is set for December 9-12, with the third main event December 14-18.

    The fourth pro-am is set for January 27-30, with the fourth main event February 9-12. The championship event is scheduled for February 13-14.

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