There were four players left after the dinner break in the high roller event. But only two of them were ever going to win. The only questions remaining were which one, and when?
It would be between Ivan Luca, the sleepy looking and methodical Argentinian, or David Peters, the young American with nothing to prove other than his knack of going deep in big events. But first they had to get past Viacheslav Gorychev and Artem Metalidi, which even with their short stacks seemed harder than it ought to.
For one thing Gorychev had perfected the fine art of working his way down to three big blinds and then doubling up. He did this repeatedly, and it’s a trick that any fledgling poker player would do well to learn. Gorychev performed this miracle enough times to escape fourth place, leaving that to the unfortunate Metalidi, who it’s hard to imagine will get any sleep tonight. Gorychev would depart in third, for about €60,000 more than the others had bargained on.
That left Luca and Peters to their heads-up fate, and with stalemate over a deal, it was a straight race to the title, and first place money of €597,000.
In the end it would not be the long drawn out scrap that many might have expected. After Peters re-raised all-in on a board of 8♥K♦8♦Q♠2♣ Luca had no option but to fold. But it left him with 2.6 million to Peters’s 12.6 million and the chips would soon find their way to the middle.
Luca shoved with ace-eight off-suit and Peters called him with pocket fours. It was an unusual moment, with distractions elsewhere causing Peters’s rail of Jonathan Little and Shannon Shorr to look the other way, nearly missing their man win the lot. A four on the flop sealed it, and Little and Shorr were on hand for the celebrations.
It’s a moment of vindication for Peters who bubbled the PCA Super High Roller in January.
“This feels a lot better after that,” he said. “It was a pretty miserable way to bust the $100K. It was one of my worst beats ever. It feels good to get some redemption.”
He also had a word of praise for his heads-up opponent.
“He’s very tough,” said Peters. “He played a great final table. He’s very tricky, it’s hard to put him on a hand.”
And as for the result itself, it was number one. “This is big, it feels great.”
A gracious Luca hardly reacted to the defeat, other than to shake hands. He’s an interesting fellow. Seemingly slow and methodical at the table, in breaks he would walk around like a visiting dignitary with ambassadorial duties, trailed by friends keeping a respectable distance while he went through the motions of inspecting his surroundings, all without saying a word.
He fits this role well because it’s largely true. Luca is a kind of visiting dignitary, now in the early stages of his European poker adventure. As we wrote in Deauville, this is his big leap, travelling half way around the world to compete in the richest tournaments in the world. After cashes worth more than €200,000 prior to his win in Malta, it was already proving a wise choice. Now, even one place short of a victory, it looks like genius.
Some 18 players from a field of more than 300 entries returned for the last day of play, in an event which is usually the one to close out an EPT festival while the crew hired to dismantle everything twiddle their thumbs. But the midnight finish will get boxes packed early.
Out first was Sam Greenwood, who would be followed by some of the bigger names in world poker, including Steve O’Dwyer, Davidi Kitai, Ludovic Geilich and Mike McDonald. Then a final table of eight in the shadows of the main stage.
Former chip leader Sylvain Loosli went out in eighth place when Charlie Carrel’s ace-ten of clubs rivered a flush. Igor Yaroshevskyy followed in seventh when he ran into Luca, who was busy amassing what was now a stack worth 5.6 million
When play restarted after the dinner break Nick Petrangleo was nowhere to be seen, but arriving two hands late he managed to double up twice.But as the short stack it did little to prolong his tournament much longer, and he departed in sixth place. Peters sent him there, extending his lead.
Carrel would depart next. The talented young Englishman was a striking figure in Malta this week. Sure, there were his results (he cashed in a side Event), but then there were his clothes. Aside from a psychedelic leopard print hoody there were his Hammer pants which, in this blustering Maltese climate, could easily have seen him flown home early against his will.
As it turned out he was, although only in a poker sense. He survived the weather but not his encounter with Peters, whose eight-four managed to undo ace-king.
That left the final four to slog it out, and the Luca versus Peters finale.
In addition to the first prize of €597,000 he also wins a SLYDE watch from the official watch sponsor of the European Poker Tour. On that the last word goes to Jonathan Little.
“He has never worn a watch in his life,” said Little. “He’s always late.”
It brings to an end the EPT Malta festival, one that was universally considered a success from our vantage point overlooking the tournament room which spent almost all of the ten days jam packed. It leaves just one more stop in Season 11 of the tour which is of course the Grand Final in Monaco in a month’s time. It should be the usual show stopper. If we don’t see you there, you can follow all the action on the PokerStars blog.
See you then.
€10,000 + €300 EPT High Roller Single-Re-entry 8-Handed
Entrants: 304 (235 + 69 re-entries)
Prize pool: €2,979,200
Places paid: 39
1. David Peters (United States) €597,000
2. Ivan Luca (Argentina) €397,000
3. Viacheslav Goryachev (Russia) €290,500
4. Artem Metalidi (Ukraine) €234,500
5. Charlie Carrel (United Kingdom) €183,800
6. Nick Petrangelo (United States) €139,000
7. Igor Yaroshevskyy (Ukraine) €102,000
8. Sylvain Loosli (France) €75,000
Stephen Bartley is a staff writer for the PokerStars Blog.