Mikalai Pobal made a bit of poker history on Tuesday, as he became just the second player to win two European Poker Tour titles. Earlier today, he won the 2019 PokerStars EPT Prague €5,300 EPT Main Event, topping a field of 1,154 entries, and cashing for €1,005,600 ($1,121,053).
In a refreshing reversal of the sort of thing we normally have to say in the poker industry, Pobal was the first man to win a second EPT title. Normally, it is newsworthy when a woman accomplishes a “first,” but in this case, the famed Victoria Coren Mitchell was the first person to notch dual EPT victories. She won her first in 2006 at EPT London and re-wrote the record books in 2014, winning EPT Sanremo.
Pobal previous won EPT Barcelona in 2012. He now has nearly $2.5 million live tournament earnings. Almost all of it has come from his two EPT titles. Not bad. I’d take it. And he does not even play live poker much anymore.
“I’ve thought about it a lot, but it was always just in my dreams and my hopes,” Pobal said to the PokerStars blog, speaking of winning a second EPT crown. “Today they have come true. It’s great.”
There aren’t many worse feelings that not getting any cards to play, especially at a final table. You just watch everyone else get into the action and lament as your stack slowly dwindles. There is seemingly nothing you can do about it unless you want to try to make some hero play with 9-4 offsuit or something.
And that’s how it was for much of the final table for Pobal.
“Every level I was card dead,” he said. “It was just the last two levels that I saw so many good hands and so many spots to increase my stack. I used them, and won.”
To make matters worse for Pobal in the final table’s early stages, he went into Tuesday as the second shortest stack with 4.740 million chips. Gaby Livshitz was the chip leader with 11.205 million.
Pobal ended up falling to close to 2 million chips at one point before finally making his run. After a couple double-ups, he rivered a set of Tens against Livshitz to jump to 9.050 million. He continued to grow his stack and shortly eliminated Livshitz A-A versus A-Q to suddenly be staring at 17.790 million.
Going into heads-up play against Norbert Szecsi, Pobal was slightly behind, 18.385 million to 16.215 million. The two discussed a deal, but could not come to an agreement.
Pobal took the lead right of the bat and then nabbed a massive pot from Szecsi. Szecsi had raised with 8-4 and Pobal defended his big blind with T-7. The flop just so happened to come down T-7-5, giving Pobal top two pair and Szecsi a gut-shot. Szecsi remained the aggressor the entire way, even though he never hit his draw and Pobal was more than happy to call ever-increasing bets. By the time the hand was over, Pobal had 26.190 million chips to Szecsi’s 8.420 million.
As Pobal said, he was on a roll and continued to increase his lead. He was in a zone, was getting cards, and could do no wrong. On the final hand, The two raised each other pre-flop until Szecsi was all-in with pocket Eights and Pobal easily called with Kings. The Kings held and that was all she wrote.
2019 European Poker Tour Prague Main Event – Final Table Standings
- Mikalai Pobal – €1,005,600
- Norbert Szecsi – €598,880
- Ricardo Da Rocha – €421,450
- Gaby Livshitz – €316,780
- Tomas Paiva – €241,230
- Luke Marsh – €177,420