It is said that if you’re going to go out, go out with a bang. The European Poker Tour is doing just that as, in their final Main Event in the illustrious tour’s history in Prague, Czech Republic, David Peters is holding the lead after Day Three with only 65 players remaining.
This will be the final EPT event ever because of changes instituted by the ownership of the circuit, Amaya Gaming. Instead of operating the EPT and various national sub-tours (the United Kingdom/Ireland Poker Tour and the Eureka Poker Tour, among others), Amaya Gaming has decided to close the doors on all of those and open “a new era” when the calendar turns to 2017 in a couple of weeks. Once the new year begins, there will be the “PokerStars Championships,” which will be huge tournament schedules located around the world, while the “PokerStars Festivals” will look to take the place of the regional tours around the world.
The players decided that, if the EPT was to be no more, then they wanted to be there for the final moments of action. Over two Day Ones (remember, the EPT Main Events offer only one shot), 1192 players came to the tables, topping the record for the event set back in 2014. Over the past two years, only the EPT Barcelona (which has been the kickoff for the season since 2014) has drawn in more players than the EPT Prague.
Day Two of the tournament was perhaps the most arduous for the players. Working their way down close to the money bubble of 231 players, tournament directors determined that, if there weren’t two eliminations before the end of the current level of play (Level 14, 1500/3000 with a 500 ante), then action would pause and everyone would come back on Friday with two people leaving with no money. If one person would be knocked off, then action would continue until the money bubble popped.
Of course, the obvious happened. One player, Espen Solaas, was eliminated by Apostolos Bechrakis rather quickly, ensuring another hour plus of play while the money bubble was popped. That came when Mike Brandau opened the betting and Attila Valentai three-bet his stack. Brandau made the call, showing pocket eights that were racing against Valentai’s Big Slick, and was rather unhappy when a King came in the window of a K-9-6 flop. A Jack on the turn kept Valentai in the lead, but the thunderbolt of an eight came on the river to give Brandau the set and the knockout, ending the day for the 231 players who earned at least a min-cash of €7560 from the event.
Friday’s play was a bit more rapid as the players looked to drive to the final table. Former EPT champion Nicolas Chouity (644,000) started off the day with the chip lead and the chance of another final piece of EPT history. In the 13-year history of the EPT, only one person – Victoria Coren-Mitchell – has ever won two EPT titles. With this being the final EPT, Chouity had the best shot at becoming the second person to pull off the feat.
The day belonged to Peters, however. After starting the day with only around 300K in chips, Peters never seemed to lose a hand throughout the day. In particular it seemed that Peters picked on Oleg Vasylchenko for chips as, during Level 16, Peters bet Vasylchenko out of a hand (with the board reading 8-2-A-9-5 with three spades) and picked up a nice pot. Their second clash would be much more dramatic.
In Level 17, Peters called a three-bet out of Vasylchenko to see another monochrome flop, a 9♠ 7♠ 6♠ arrangement. Peters would check his option and, after Vasylchenko pushed out 45K in chips, Peters moved all in over him. Vasylchenko considered his options for a moment, then called and showed a 10-8 for a flopped straight. Peters’ pocket sevens were good for a set, but he would need some help…which came in the 6♣ on the turn for a boat. Drawing dead, the meaningless K♠ sent Vasylchenko out of the tournament and catapulted Peters into the lead with 1.15 million chips.
Peters only kept climbing from that point, ending the action on Friday as the only player over two million chips.
1. David Peters, 2.036 million
2. Stoyan Obreshkov, 1.356 million
3 . Apostolos Bechrakis, 1.036 million
4. Janos Kurtosi, 1.026 million
5. Viteszlav Pesta, 1.025 million
6. Kyosti Isberg, 978,000
7. Andrew Hulme, 902,000
8. Marton Czuczor, 897,000
9. Hirokazu Kobayashi, 864,000
10. David Lopez Llacer, 862,000
With a win in this event, Peters would pass Fedor Holz for the CardPlayer Magazine Player of the Year award (Holz currently has 7058 points, Peters 6901). Peters would at the minimum have to make the final table to get by the German. On the other major POY race, the Global Poker Index POY, Peters is perhaps too far back to pass Holz, but he could pass Nick Petrangelo for second in the standings.
Action will continue at the Hilton Prague Hotel on Saturday at noon local time, with the plan to get the field down to the three tables. On Monday, the final champion in the history of the EPT will be crowned, with that player walking off with a €774,600 payday.