1267 entries have been whittled down to the final nine as the championship of the latest stop for the European Poker Tour is ripe for the taking. The EPT Prague at the King’s Casino in Rozvadov has certainly delivered the goods for the European poker community, and now the final table looms as the final act. Leading the way will be Canadian player Jordan Saccucci, who will hold a decent lead over Jun Obara and Petar Kalev when the cards hit the air on Saturday afternoon (Rozvadov time).
Thirty Players with a Dream
Thirty players had a shot at taking home the championship of the EPT Prague on Friday. Some had a better chance than others, especially Day Four chip leader Luigi D’Alterio. Others on the shorter end of the stick – especially two local Czech players, Milan Simko and Vitezslav Cech – had to get to work early if they were going to get any deeper into the tournament. Every player remaining would leave the King’s Casino with nearly a six-figure payday – €97,450, to be exact – but all eyes were on the million Euro prize at the final table.
Surprisingly Cech and Simko would stick around for a bit while one of the top five stacks took an early departure. Ondrej Drozd started the day with the fourth biggest stack in the room but would find himself on the rail only a couple of hours into the Day Four action. It was courtesy of a cooler situation with Javier Gomez Zapatero that shot Zapatero to the lead.
Under the gun, Drozd popped the betting only to see Zapatero make a three-bet against him on the button. Drozd didn’t mess around, shooting his remaining two million chips to the center of the table and, just as quickly, Zapatero made the call. Drozd had the ladies, pocket Queens, but Zapatero held the cooler in pocket Kings. Once the board ran uneventfully with a 4-3-2-2-4, Drozd was out in 25th place and Zapatero was the new chip leader.
Saccucci Starts His Drive to the Top
At this point, Saccucci started his drive to the eventual end-of-day chip lead. After starting the day with 925K in chips, Saccucci bumped that stack up with the elimination of Henok Tekle Mariam after winning a race situation (A-K versus pocket Queens). Saccucci would continue his upwards swing in taking down Yannick Cardot in 22nd place, this time holding pocket rockets to vanquish Cardot’s Big Slick.
Saccucci would continue to be the Grim Reaper on Day Four, taking out Rui Milhomens in seventeenth place to bring the action to two tables. The had was particularly notable because Milhomens flopped a set of Queens but couldn’t shake Saccucci and his pocket Aces. An Ace on the river completely flipped the script, knocking out Milhomens and setting Saccucci up with 4.58 million in chips.
With his final knockout of the night, Saccucci would solidify his place atop the mountain. Istvan Pilhofer (holding pocket Queens) opened the action, while Benjamin Lebor three-bet the action (holding pocket Kings). As the PokerStars live stream would show, Saccucci four-bet the action – yes, holding pocket Aces – and amazingly Pilhofer was able to get away from the situation. Lebor wasn’t so fortunate, however, making the call to see the flop.
The Q-8-6 flop (yes, the worst hand would have hit) did nothing to change the situation, but both Lebor and Saccucci fired at will. Saccucci took the first action with a 900K bet and, with only 2.69 million in front of him, Lebor had to decide if this was a hill to stake his tournament life on. Eventually, Lebor moved all in and Saccucci immediately called, with the final two cards blanking out for Lebor to send him from the tournament in thirteenth place.
After Petar Kalev dismissed Simon Lofberg in tenth place, EPT officials decided to end the action with the nine players left in the tournament:
1. Jordan Saccucci (Canada), 9.56 million
2. Jun Obara (Japan), 6.24 million
3. Petar Kalev (Bulgaria), 5.845 million
4. Luigi D’Alterio (Italy), 4.73 million
5. Paul-Adrian Covaciu (Romania), 2.77 million
6. Antoine Saout (France), 2.74 million
7. Javier Gomez Zapatero (Spain), 2.585 million
8. Parker Talbot (Canada), 1.81 million
9. Istvan Pilhofer (Hungary), 1.53 million
It is Championship Day on Saturday at the EPT Prague, with these nine men coming back to the felt at noon (6 AM East Coast Time) for Day Five action. Can Jordan Saccucci continue with the “run good?” Or will Obara make history as the first Japanese EPT Main Event champion? Saout, a former WSOP Main Event finalist, and Talbot also are lurking dangerously down the standings. Up for grabs is the final title for 2022 on the EPT circuit – oh, and a €1,054,500 bankroll boost to end the year.