Six days of incredible action in the Czech capital saw Mikalai Pobal crowned only the second double EPT Champion, winning €1,005,600 and making poker history with his heads-up victory over Norbert Szecsi.
It has been five years since Victoria Coren-Mitchell won her second EPT Main Event and in doing so, became the first ever to do so. Seven years after he first took the title in Barcelona in 2012 in the infamous ‘Finnish Drinks’ final, Pobal was back to claim a second historic win on the European Poker Tour.
The final day began with just five players left from the 1,154 entries and with Hungary’s Norbert Szecsi leading the way with a big lead, everyone knew that they had to step it up to challenge the leader.
Tomas Paiva from Portugal could not climb off the canvas, coming in as a short-stack and he was unable to hold from the flopped top pair, Gaby Livshitz outdrawing him by the river. Pobal was then the short-stack, but he came roaring back into contention when he doubled through Livshitz, Pobal’s ace-king beating Livshitz’ pocket queens.
Pobal and Livshitz clashed again a few orbits later, with Pobal having pocket queens this time, well ahead of Livshitz’ pocket tens. The queens held, and while Pobal rose in the counts, Livshitz was slumping. He was out, cast aside by Pobal in a hand where Livshitz held ace-queen on a queen-high flop, Pobal calling the shove with pocket aces to oust the lively Livshitz.
While Pobal was going for his second EPT title, Ricardo Da Rocha was bidding to become the first Brazilian to win an EPT in poker history, the South American putting on a stirring run to finish in third place. It was Norbert Szecsi who took much of his stack, quads for the Hungarian seeing Da Rocha fall short.
Da Rocha’s tournament was over when his last ten big blinds went into the middle with ace-jack, Szecsi himself calling the all-in move with ace-queen which held when no drama came on the board.
Heads-up was exciting, but not a lengthy duel. The two players discussed a deal, but Szecsi appeared unhappy at the ICM numbers and play went on without any amendment to the payouts. Pobal got the better of the final showdown, a dominating start giving him a huge chunk of the 200 big blinds in play.
Szecsi attempted to bluff his way back into contention, but was picked off by Pobal, and the final hand saw Pobal cruise to victory, all the chips in the middle pre-flop, his kings well ahead of Szecsi’s pocket eights, with the snowmen unable to find a third for their number to save the Hungarian player.
Instead, Pobal won his second, historic EPT Main Event, winning just a couple of thousand Euros more than he had over seven years ago in Barcelona.
While Hungary and Brazil fell just short of maiden wins for their countrymen, Pobal joined Victoria Coren-Mitchell on a very select pedestal of EPT winners and in doing so, became the fourth Belarussian winner of the title, a hugely proud moment for him and all of his friends and family.
After taking down the tournament, Mikalai Pobal spoke to PokerNews and shared his pride in his achievement.
EPT Prague Main Event final table results:
|1st||Mikalai Pobal||Belarus||€ 1,005,600|
|2nd||Norbert Szecsi||Hungary||€ 598,880|
|3rd||Ricardo Da Rocha||Brazil||€ 421,450|
|4th||Gaby Livshitz||Israel||€ 316,780|
|5th||Tomas Paiva||Portugal||€ 241,230|
|6th||Luke Marsh||United Kingdom||€ 177,420|
|7th||Laurent Michot||France||€ 134,610|
|8th||Dietrich Fast||Germany||€ 96,100|
|9th||Gab Yong Kim||South Korea||€ 74,770|