The King’s Casino in Rozvadov, Czech Republic, was a gracious host for the 2021 World Series of Poker Europe, so it was only natural that one of their “native sons” would take home the biggest prize. Czech native Josef Gulas was able to outlast the seven-man final table and, in particular, France’s Johan Guilbert to capture the championship of the €10,000 Main Event. Along with the prize of being recognized as the crème of the European poker world, Gulas also took the lion’s share of the prize pool, a €1,276,712 Christmas present.
There Can Be Only One…
Seven men came to the felt on Wednesday afternoon, looking to finish off the WSOP Europe. Gulas was the chip leader to start the day with his 20.2 million in chips, but there were a couple of players that were close enough to him to be threats. Alexander Tkatschew of Germany held the second place slot (17.375 million) at the start of action, while Guilbert’s 13.025 million stack was good for third place. The other four men – Greece’s Athanasios Kidas (6.025 million), the Netherlands’ Thomas Denie (5.5 million), Stanislav Koleno of Slovakia (3.4 million) and Macedonia’s Aleksandar Trajkovski (3.25 million) – were going to need a tremendous amount of help if they were going anywhere.
Both Koleno and Denie shoved on the first two hands, looking to double up, but it was a second shove from Denie that ended his day incredibly early. Looking down at pocket Queens, he would simply raise the betting and he would get a great deal of action. Tkatschew called, Guilbert raised the betting and Kidas moved all in over Guilbert’s bet, bringing the action back to a more than willing Denie for a decision.
With his ladies, Denie certainly called off the bet from Guilbert, with the hope that he did not have what someone would normally have to move all in over a big three-bet. After Tkatschew and Guilbert both got out of the way, the cards went on their backs and Denie saw the sad news:
Denie: pocket Queens
Kidas: pocket Kings
It was exactly what Denie did not want to see, and it spelled his doom. A ten-high board ran out, bringing no help for Denie (Tkatschew actually held one of the two Queens that Denie had been looking for). As Kidas stacked the 14.45 million pot, Denie went to the rail in seventh place.
The other short stacks also met with quick departures. Trajkovski flopped a top pair of Kings on a two-spade board, but it was not good enough to beat Guilbert’s 10♠ 7♠ after the 9♠ came on the river. After Trajkovski received his accolades for his sixth-place finish, Gulas would Koleno away with a dominant pair of Kings in his pocket against Koleno’s flopped pair of Jacks that received no further help.
Rather quickly, four players were left.
The Gulas and Guilbert Show
After a quick break, the final four returned to the tables and “The Gulas and Guilbert Show” hit the airwaves.
On the very first hand back from the break, Guilbert was able to get a massive double up against Gulas as Guilbert found a great moment to get pocket Aces. That hand thrust Guilbert into the lead and sent Gulas to the basement, but Gulas showed some temerity in climbing back into the mix. Guilbert, however, would lose the chip lead in a battle of the blinds with Tkatschew after Tkatschew flopped top pair/Ace kicker against Guilbert’s inferior pair and doubled up.
Guilbert wasted little time in seizing the lead back from Tkatschew and, after Gulas took down Kidas in fourth place, it was a three-horse race. It did not look like much of a race, however, after Guilbert knocked Tkatschew out in third place to go to heads up play against Gulas with a 50.3 million/18.5 million lead.
Only moments into the heads-up fight, however, Gulas had flipped the count. Gulas would get all his chips to the center with Big Slick, while Guilbert attempted to take him out with a K-Q. No Queen would come for Guilbert and the two men swapped stacks, Gulas now with 41.6 million and Guilbert with 27.2 million. While it would take nearly three hours to finish it off, Gulas would eventually emerge victorious.
On the final hand, Guilbert pushed off the start and Gulas made the call. Guilbert had the smallest of edges with his pocket deuces, while Gulas had live cards in his A-8. The J-K-3-7 flop and turn kept Guilbert in the lead, but the eight on the river brought the tournament to a close as Gulas caught to win the 2021 WSOP Europe Main Event.
1. Josef Gulas (Czech Republic), €1,276,712
2. Johan Guilbert (France), €789,031
3. Alexander Tkatschew (Germany), €558,505
4. Athansios Kidas (Greece), €401,344
5. Stanislav Koleno (Slovakia), €292,862
6. Aleksandar Trajkovski (Macedonia), €217,854
7. Thomas Denie (Netherlands), €163,434
8. Illja Savevski (Macedonia), €125,052