The EPT Grand Final is always one of the most prestigious event of the year. I came fully prepared and very excited about the change of host city to Madrid. Even though I'm not superstitious at all, it's a bit frustrating when there is a place where you don't have much success, and Monte Carlo was definitely that for me.
I have only missed the very first EPT Grand Final to play, yet the only result I had was a runner-up finish in last year heads up event. I love playing high-roller events because the smaller fields usually mean we have much more experience with each other, and mind games as well as meta-game are a much bigger part of the game as usual.
My first table draw was just what was needed for some fireworks: Viktor Blom sitting on my left, not to mention Kevin Stani, Leo Fernandez, and Ville Walbeck. I quickly got up to a big stack just to lose it on some pretty sick hand vs Viktor and finally end the day with barely less than I started with. Day 2 was such a roller coaster, too. After hitting my first royal flush ever all-in with A♠Q♠ versus pair of eights, a rush of cards saw me take over the chip lead, only to lose few to a flip and get kinda owned by Galen Hall on my immediate left.
When I was short-stacked with 12 players left, I had a really bad deja-vu feeling. Two years ago in Monte Carlo, I finished eleventh with eight paying. Last year, I finished 14th when they paid eleven.
This year, I never gave up, and few lucky breaks later, I made the final table (alas, as pretty short stack). It was a very tough one, and I had now a chance to make history as being the first player ever to win two EPT High Roller events. So did my friend and fellow Team PokerStars Pro Vanessa Rousso.
It was definitely a weird one, as my friend Benny Spindler took care of most of the opposition while I was able to find key double-ups in the right spots. Then Juha Helppi was all in for the first time of the day, and I picked up queens in the big blind just after Benny busted Doc Sands in fourth We were heads up!
After some hands without much action, i managed to double up with jacks vs KT on a T749 board in a re-raised pot, where I made a big check-raise all-in on the turn. From there i just had the feeling it was all over, and cards were definitely going my way. I was able to keep the pressure and the lead until a bit cooler of a final hand saw my full house overtake his trip nines.
Even though it has been almost three weeks now, I still cherish this victory, because my last live victory this big was the PCA 2009 High Roller Event, and in those 2 years I gave my best and realized even more so than the beautiful game of poker we all love is invariably full of disappointments and swings. Variance being king, we just have to accept it, as it makes the rare victories priceless!
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