Racing through the largest field in the history of the event, Germany’s Julian Track outran a talented final table on the way to taking down the 2013 European Poker Tour Prague Main Event last night in the Czech Republic.
Coming to the final table, Track held a decent lead over former EPT champion Max Silver, but it was far from secure with Silver and others in pursuit of him. Stephen Chidwick was in the middle of the pack and in excellent form during the tournament, while Ole Schemion lurked as one of the shorter stacks on the table. Jorma Nuutinen, Georgios Sotiropoulos, Ka Kwan Lau and Zdravko Duvnjak rounded out the final group as the cards hit the air on Wednesday afternoon.
Track would extend his lead early on by creating the first knockout. Nuutinen, who came to the final table as the short stack but was able to grind up a bit through the early action, opened the betting in Level 26 but saw Chidwick pop him with a three bet. In the big blind, Track would four bet the action and Nuutinen would put his tournament life on the line while Chidwick backed away. It was a race situation, Nuutinen’s A-K against Track’s pocket tens and a ten on the flop basically ended any discussion. Once a seven on the turn failed to provide any assistance to Nuutinen, he was gone in eighth place (for the record, Chidwick folded two of Nuutinen’s outs with his own Big Slick).
Silver, trying to become the first player to ever win two EPT championships, did not have a great day of play on Wednesday. As he watched his chip stack dwindle, he was able to see Duvnjak depart the festivities before Silver himself hit the door. Pushing all in with an A-10, Chidwick decided to look him up with his pocket sevens. A ten would come on the flop to give the lead to Silver and the board paired with a four on the turn. Silver was one step away from a big double, but a seven on the river quashed that double and eliminated the Brit in sixth place.
Schemion also had some difficulties in getting anything going on Wednesday. On his final hand, Schemion saw Sotiropoulos bet out and Track three bet his action. Schemion moved all in for almost 3.5 million chips and, after Sotiropoulos (and his K-9 off suit) got out of the way, Track called. Schemion’s pocket tens were vastly outpacing Track’s pocket sevens and things didn’t change on the 2-8-2 flop. A seven on the river, however, suddenly pushed Track to the lead and, once neither of Schemion’s two remaining outs came on the river, he was done in fifth place.
That hand further solidified Track’s lead over the remaining three players as he held almost 60% of the chips in play. Looking to gain some ground, Sotiropoulos was responsible for the eliminations of both Lau and Chidwick to bring the match to heads up but, suddenly, the play was stopped. Track (holding 17.2 million chips) admitted that he wasn’t feeling well and offered Sotiropoulos an even chop of the remaining money on the table (worth €700,000), saving back roughly €25K and the trophy to play for. Sotiropoulos accepted and, once those formalities were complete, the twosome went about deciding a champion.
Even with the money in the (proverbial) bank, Track and Sotiropoulos battled it out as if the entire prize pool was on the felt. Track would wear down Sotiropoulos to a point that Track held a 4:1 lead, but Sotiropoulos wouldn’t go away quietly. Over four hours, Track and Sotiropoulos fought it out before the penultimate hand was dealt. Pushing his stack all in with a Q-J off suit, Sotiropoulos was called by Track and his pocket tens and, once the board came down K-9-2-4-3, Sotiropoulos had missed all his outs and the tournament was over.
1. Julian Track (Germany), €725,700*
2. Georgios Sotiropoulos (Greece), €700,000*
3. Stephen Chadwick (United Kingdom), €378,000
4. Ka Kwan Lau (Spain), €283,800
5. Ole Schemion (Germany), €218,300
6. Max Silver (United Kingdom), €160,200
7. Zdravko Duvnjak (Croatia), €118,200
8. Jorma Nuutinen (Finland), €84,600
* – indicates heads up deal
With the close of the activities in Prague, the European Poker Tour is taking a bit of time off for the holidays. That respite will be a short one, however, as the EPT kicks back into action on January 5 with their yearly visit to the Bahamas and the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure. The 2014 PCA Main Event is a $10 million guaranteed tournament, which should draw the crème of the EPT to the sunny climes of the Caribbean as well as hundreds of online qualifiers looking to stake their claim to poker greatness.