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A champion has been crowned in the 2019 PokerStars European Poker Tour (EPT) Prague €5,300 EPT Main Event and history has been made, as Mikalai Pobal became the second two-time champion in the history of the EPT.
Out of a field of 1,154 entries, the third-biggest in the capital of the Czech Republic, Pobal defeated Hungary's Norbert Szecsi in heads-up to claim the lion's share of the €5,596,900 prize pool. For his triumph, the Belorussian claimed a top prize of €1,005,600 while Szecsi had to settle for €598,880.
2019 PokerStars European Poker Tour Prague Main Event Final Table
|Place||Player||Country||Prize (in EUR)||Prize (in USD)|
|3||Ricardo Da Rocha||Brazil||€421,450||$468,673|
|6||Luke Marsh||United Kingdom||€177,420||$197,300|
|9||Gab Yong Kim||South Korea||€74,770||$83,148|
The former International Economic Relations student becomes only the second player after Victoria Coren Mitchell to win two European Poker Tour Main Events after winning his first title seven and a half years ago.
He topped a field of 1,082 players for €1,007,550 to win the 2012 EPT Barcelona Main Event, and the amount he claims for his victory in Prague is nearly identical. This was Pobal's 16th live cash which includes five EPT Main Events. With this victory, he will jump to fourth place on the Belorussian all-time money list.
As for Szecsi, he was denied a maiden EPT win for his home country, as was fellow final tablist Ricardo Da Rocha from Brazil. Instead, it is the fourth EPT title for Belarus as Da Rocha finished in third place for €421,450, with Gaby Livshitz ending up in fourth (€316,780) and Tomas Paiva behind them in fifth (€241,230).
Final Day Action
Prague tends to attract a very international field for the last big poker festival of the year and the 2019 edition was still quite remarkable with regards to the diversity of nations. The top 13 finishers all hailed from different countries and among the top 24, a total of 20 different countries were in the mix with a shot at glory.
After Luke Marsh came up short in the final hand of the previous evening, only five players returned to their seats on the feature table and an average stack of more than 70 big blinds provided plenty of space to maneuver.
The five finalists all showcased their talents in a multifaceted way, and especially chip leader Gaby Livshitz and Norbert Szecsi took over control to trade the lead back and forth. Portugal's Tomas Paiva became the first casualty when his top pair failed to hold up against the gutshot and flush draw of Gaby Livshitz.
Pobal From Short Stack to Chip Leader
The third level of the day kicked off with four players remaining and former champion Pobal was in a distant last place with a mere 12 big blinds. He won a first vital all-in against Livshitz in a standard flip as ace-king beat pocket queens. Little did Livshitz know that half an hour later all his chips would belong to new-found nemesis Pobal.
They got it in again with queens versus tens and Pobal had the best of it once more. A few minutes later he would river a set of tens against top pair and moved ahead of Livshitz in the counts.
What followed was the most pivotal hand in the comeback story of Pobal when he glanced at pocket aces in a battle of the blinds and Livshitz flopped top pair and top kicker with ace-queen in a three-bet pot. There was no escape for Livshitz and he went from chip leader to fourth-place finisher, leaving the feature stage with a smile on the face.
No First EPT Main Event Title for Brazil
Ricardo Da Rocha had maintained a stack in the middle of the pack for nearly the entire duration of the final table over two days and he never dropped into the danger zone. The 26-year-old from Rio Pardo, who can usually be found on the online tables, exercised a lot of discipline on the live stream and scored his breakthrough result on the live poker circuit.
Da Rocha's stack was cut very short when Szecsi made quads and was paid off, and soon after the Brazilian had to settle for third place on his first trip to Europe. Down to fewer than ten big blinds, Da Rocha got it in with ace-jack and Szecsi finished off the job with ace-queen when neither player connected with the board.
Short-Lived Heads-Up Duel Dominated by Pobal
Brief deal discussions before the heads-up came to no conclusion and both players started heads-up with more than 100 big blinds each. If any spectators were expecting the match to go on late into the night, they would end up disappointed, as Pobal stormed into a commanding lead right away.
A gutsy triple barrel bluff with eight-high by Szecsi turned the tide towards Pobal, who check-called three streets with two pair and was rewarded with a more than four-to-one lead. Pobal then had the best of it with kings versus eights and completed an astonishing comeback from 10 big blinds in four-handed play to victory a few hours later.
That marks the conclusion of the PokerNews live reporting of the final EPT Main Event of the decade! The EPT will next be heading to the stunning Casino Sochi in Russia in March 2020. In the meanwhile, Europe's prime poker tour is also gearing up for the 2020 PokerStars Players Championship (PSPC) with multiple live events announced where poker enthusiasts from all over the world can win a Platinum Pass for one of the biggest poker festivals of the upcoming year.
Winner Interview with Mikalai Pobal:
Norbert Szecsi raised to 450,000 on the button, Mikalai Pobal three-bet to 1,500,000, Szecsi responded with a shove for 6,340,000 which Pobal snap-called.
They both got up from their chairs to inform their rails of what hands they held.
The flop came to not help Szecsi and keep Pobal ahead.
The turn was the which didn't change much except for a possibility to split the pot.
The river completed the board with the to seal the deal as Pobal became the second player ever to win a second EPT Main Event after Victoria Coren Mitchell.
Pobal walked to his rail to celebrate and then to Szecsi for a quick hug while they congratulated each other on their results. Szecsi was sent to the payout desk to collect €598,880 while Pobal gets to claim the full €1,005,600.
Mikalai Pobal raised to 500,000 on the button with and Norbert Szecsi defended with .
The flop came , they both checked to the on the turn which paired up with the four of Pobal. Szecsi bet 400,000 and Pobal called.
The river completed the board with the , Szecsi quickly checked and so did Pobal for another pot for Pobal.
Norbert Szecsi raised to 450,000 from the button with and Mikalai Pobal defended with .
The flop came , Pobal check-called the 600,000 continuation-bet of Szecsi.
The turn brought them the to bring a straight to Pobal while Szecsi picked up the gutshot. Pobal bet 1,200,000 and Szecsi folded after checking his cards once more.
Mikalai Pobal raised to 400,000 from the button with and Norbert Szecsi defended with .
The flop came for both players to pick up the same gutshot to a straight. Szecsi check-called the 600,000 continuation-bet of Pobal.
They both checked through the on the turn to the on the river. Szecsi checked for the last time and Pobal bet 900,000. Szecsi folded the best hand.
Norbert Szecsi raised to 400,000 from the button with and Mikalai Pobal defended with .
The flop came , Pobal check-called the 600,000 continuation-bet of Szecsi with two pair.
The turn was the , Pobal checked again and this time Szecsi bet 1,800,000 with the gutshot. Pobal made the call.
The river completed the board with the to keep Pobal ahead who checked for the last time. Szecsi looked at the board and bet 5,000,000 which Pobal snap-called.
Norbert Szecsi raised to 400,000 from the button with and Mikalai Pobal defended with . The flop came for both of them to hit a pair. Pobal check-raised the 300,000 bet of Szecsi to 800,000 to get the fold.
Pobal now raised to 400,000 on the button with and Szecsi defended with . The flop came , they both checked to the on the turn. Szecsi checked again and Pobal fired a bet of 350,000 into the pot which was called. The river completed the board with the to keep Pobal ahead with the straight. Szecsi checked for the last time and Pobal bet 900,000. Szecsi used a time bank card and then made the call to see he had to pay up.
After returning to their seats, Norbert Szecsi and Mikalai Pobal discussed a potential deal for a few minutes but couldn't come to any agreement. Szecsi wanted more than the ICM deal offered and Pobal declined that, as such the action commences without any deal in place.