Six days of exciting action in the Czech capital saw only the second double EPT Champion named Mikalai Pobal, winning €1.005.600 and making poker history with his heads-up victory over Norbert Szecsi.
Five years have passed since Victoria Coren-Mitchell won her second EPT Main Event, becoming the first ever to do so. Seven years after taking the title in 2012 in the notorious’ Finnish Drinks ‘ final in Barcelona for the first time, Pobal was back to make a second historic win on the European Poker Tour.
The final day began with only five players left from the 1,154 entries and with Norbert Szecsi from Hungary leading the way with a big lead, everyone realised they had to step up to challenge the leader.
Tomas Paiva from Portugal was unable to scale the canvas as a short stack, and he was unable to keep off the flopped top pair, Gaby Livshitz outstripping him by the river Pobal was then the short-stack, but when he doubled through Livshitz, the ace-king of Pobal crushing the pocket queens of Livshitz, he came roaring back into contention.
A few orbits ago, Pobal and Livshitz collided again, with this time Pobal having pocket queens just ahead of the pocket tens of Livshitz. The queens held, and Livshitz was slumping as Pobal rose in the counts. He was out, thrown aside by Pobal in a hand where Livshitz held ace-queen on a queen-high flop, and Pobal called the shove with pocket aces to get rid of the lively Livshitz.
Although Pobal was going for his second EPT title, Ricardo Da Rocha was bidding to become the first Brazilian to win an EPT in poker history, putting the South American on a thrilling run to finish third. It was Norbert Szecsi who took a lot of his row, quads to see Da Rocha fall short for the Hungarian.
Da Rocha’s tournament was over when his last ten major blinds fell into the centre with ace-jack, with Szecsi calling himself the all – in move with ace-queen remaining when there was no drama on the table.
Heads-up was thrilling, but it was not a long fight. The two players negotiated a deal but at the ICM numbers Szecsi seemed disappointed and play went on without any improvement to the payouts. Pobal got the better of the final showdown, a strong start that gave him a huge chunk of 200 large blinds in the game.
Szecsi attempted to bluff his way back into contention, but was picked off by Pobal, and the final hand saw Pobal sailing to victory, all the chips in the middle pre-flop, his kings well ahead of Szecsi’s pocket eight, with the snowmen unable to find a fifth to save the Hungarian player for their total.
Instead of winning his second, legendary EPT Main Event, Pobal won only a few thousand Euros more than he had in Barcelona over seven years ago.
Although Hungary and Brazil fell short of their countrymen’s maiden wins, Pobal joined Victoria Coren-Mitchell on a very select pedestal of EPT champions and thus became the title’s fourth Belarusian winner, an immensely proud moment for him and his family and friends.
Mikalai Pobal spoke to PokerNews after taking down the tournament and expressed his pride in his accomplishment.
EPT Prague Main Event final table results:
|1st||Mikalai Pobal||Belarus||€ 1,005,600|
|2nd||Norbert Szecsi||Hungary||€ 598,880|
|3rd||Ricardo Da Rocha||Brazil||€ 421,450|
|4th||Gaby Livshitz||Israel||€ 316,780|
|5th||Tomas Paiva||Portugal||€ 241,230|
|6th||Luke Marsh||United Kingdom||€ 177,420|
|7th||Laurent Michot||France||€ 134,610|
|8th||Dietrich Fast||Germany||€ 96,100|
|9th||Gab Yong Kim||South Korea||€ 74,770|