Battling through a difficult final table, Spain’s Adrian Mateos – the reigning World Series of Poker Europe Main Event champion – added the second leg of poker’s “Triple Crown” in winning the European Poker Tour’s Grand Final in Monte Carlo yesterday.
With only a six-handed final table (the other two official EPT final table spots, Koichi Nozaki (eighth) and Markus Ross (seventh) had been eliminated on Thursday to hopefully speed up final table play), Mateos was at the bottom of the ladder with his 1.77 million chips (only Jose Carlos Garcia with 1.435 million had less). Ahead of him were two of the fiercest competitors on the EPT, Johnny Lodden (2.25 million) and 2014 European Player of the Year Ole Schemion (3.53 million), while topping the standings were Muyedine Fares (3.955 million) and chip leader Hady El Asmar (3.97 million).
With the stacks so close together (roughly 2.5 million chips), one mistake for a player at the top might result in a change or, if the player was in the middle, could result in their elimination. That mistake was surprisingly made by Schemion who, with a board reading 10♠ 5♠ 3♣ J♣ A♠, didn’t believe Fares after Fares check-raised him. Making the call, Schemion was dismayed to see Fares turn up a K♠ 9♠ for the nut flush as he sent his J♥ 10♣ into the muck.
Taking those chips off of Schemion pushed Fares into the lead, but Mateos would finish the job of knocking off Schemion. Sitting with Big Slick against Schemion’s A-3 off suit, the Queen-high board failed to find anything that Schemion was holding to send him home in sixth place. As Mateos began his rise, Fares pushed further away from the pack in eliminating Garcia when his pocket Kings stood over Garcia’s A♠ 9♠. It was inevitable that the two would clash and, when it occurred, it brought about a lead change.
On Hand 110, Fares raised from under the gun with pocket sixes only to get action from Mateos in the big blind with only a Q-10 off suit for battle. The 6-K-9 gave something to both men, a set for Fares and a gutshot straight for Mateos, but both cannily checked their hands in trying to trap their opponent. The fireworks were lit with the Jack on the turn and Mateos, now holding a King-high straight, led out at the pot. Fares min-raised Mateos’ offering and, after the Spaniard made it 1.3 million, Fares decided to put his chips in the center. Mateos immediately made the call and Fares saw the bad news. Looking for the board to pair, Fares instead saw a ten on the river to ship the over 7 million chip pot and the chip lead to Mateos.
The foursome would play over forty hands before the next departure would be determined. Lodden never seemed to get the cards to battle against the larger stacks and, looking down at A-Q, decided to bet it out from under the gun. Fares held an A-9 and didn’t believe Lodden, pushing out a 340K chip bet. After El Asmar folded his big blind, Lodden made his stand by moving all in, which Fares called. Despite holding a healthy lead, the flop didn’t agree with Lodden’s status in coming down 2-9-7 to give Fares a pair of nines. Now looking for a Queen to rescue him, Lodden instead saw a five and a ten complete the board to come up short in his goal of an EPT championship in fourth place.
A few hands after Lodden had left for the cash cage, Fares would earn a double through Mateos (his pocket Kings winning the race against the A-9 of Mateos) to retake the lead. Once he vanquished El Asmar in third place, Fares headed for heads-up play against Mateos with more than a 2:1 lead.
After a dinner break, the two men came back to determine the ultimate champion for Season 11 of the EPT. For over 50 hands, Fares maintained his lead and thought he had found his moment on Hand 220. Completing the small blind, Fares figured himself to be in a good spot when Mateos only checked his option out of the big blind. After an A-4-7 flop, Mateos would check-raise a Fares bet of 425K to 1.1 million. Fares didn’t back down, three-betting the action and Mateos moved all in. Fares made a confident call with his A-9, but Mateos had miraculously hit with his 7-4 for bottom two pair. Fares couldn’t find a second pair to go along with his Aces and, once the 14+ million chip pot was pushed to Mateos, found himself in difficult straits with 2.17 million.
It wasn’t long after that the tournament concluded. On Hand 223, Fares opened the betting and Mateos locked the clamps on him by moving all in. Fares, desperately needing to double, made the call and tabled his A-6. Problem was it wasn’t good enough pre-flop to top Mateos’ A-8 and, after the flop and turn ran 2-9-8-Q, Fares was drawing dead and Mateos celebrated by becoming the Grand Final champion.
1. Adrian Mateos, €1,082,000
2. Muyedine Fares, €679,000
3. Hady El Asmar, €486,000
4. Johnny Lodden, €379,000
5. Jose Carlos Garcia, €297,250
6. Ole Schemion, €233,500
7. Markus Ross, €174,300
8. Koichi Nozaki, €120,700
With the close of festivities in Monte Carlo, the EPT closes the books on their Season 11 schedule. Before we know it, however, the chips will be back in the air for Europe’s most prestigious tour and arguably one of the great, if not greatest, circuits in the world.