Benny Spindler tonight won EPT London and £750,000, finally fulfilling the expectations of the poker paparazzi by winning a major title. It was a virtuoso performance from the German, one which matched bare aggression with stunning reads that blasted his opposition off the final table. Spindler, hair in face, could see enough to roll up his sleeves and win the hard way, personally responsible for the departure of five of his final table opponents. Runner-up Steve O'Dwyer took the other scalps on his way to well-deserved £465,000 score.
The German wunderkind burst onto the live scene with a million dollar third-place finish at the 2009 PCA and, if it wasn't for a couple of twists of fate, could have taken first then. Here in London Spindler always looked a threat and was at the front of the queue of those looking likely to take the title. A realist to the last, Spindler admitted that he didn't think his victory was a foregone conclusion.
"I was never sure of the win. In fact I got really lucky with that pair of tens against Martins Adeniya's ace-king. I had been running really well the whole tournament and it was good to win that huge flip," said Spindler. More about that flip later, first the payouts.
1. Benny Spindler, Germany, PoekrStars player, £750,000
2. Steve O'Dwyer, USA, £465,000
3. Andre Klebanov, Germany, £265,000
4. Juan Manuel Pastor, Spain, Team PokerStars Pro, £200,000
5. Mattias Bergstrom, Sweden, £155,000
6. Kevin Iacofano, USA, £120,000
7. Martins Adeniya, UK, £86,350
8. Miroslav Benes, Czech Republic, PokerStars qualifier, £64,000
Benes was the first to go. The plucky online qualifier started the day with just seven-and-a-half big blinds and managed to get himself in a flip to climb back to more than 20. It didn't work out, Spindler scoring first blood. It was a theme that was set to be repeated throughout the six hours of play.
As noted by our PokerStars Blog's German correspondent Robin Scherr, Spindler always has ten minutes every day where he wins two or three huge pots in quick succession. The same happened today. Spindler went from middle of the pack to a dominating chip lead within just a few hands.
First he made big calls with A♦9♦ for second pair which turned to two-pair on a K♠8♠9♣3♦A♠ board. His opponent, Bergstrom, had check-raised the flop and fired huge chunks of chips at him - 700,000 on the turn and another 700,000 on the river - with just five-high. It was a bold move but had it been prompted by the desire to make a big play on TV? Only Bergstrom knows that. That spun Spindler up to 5,700,000 and into the lead.
The next moment pretty much guaranteed that the German would make it to the heads up at the very least and, in our eyes, all but sealed the title: Spindler took out former chip leader Martins Adeniya in a huge flip which saw the mop-haired terror take possession of almost half the chips in play with six players remaining.
We overheard Adeinya during a break say that he knew Spindler would four-bet him for stacks and indeed he did. Bergstrom, now one of the shortest stacks, opened for 150,000 under-the-gun and was flatted by Spindler on the button. Adeniya squeezed from the big blind for 475,000, Bergstrom passed and Spindler moved all-in. Adeniya, unfazed on the outside at least, announced the call tabling A♠K♣ to Spindler's T♠T♣.
"It's a big one," said Adeniya.
Correction, it was a huge one. A giant flip for the chip lead at the final table of a £5,000 tounament. The winner would be firmly ensconced in the driving seat for the £750,000 first-place prize. While it's easier to think of it as a race the equities tell a different story, Spindler held 56.5%, Adeniya 43.5% and an edge like that proved to be critical. The board ran out J♣8♣3♥2♠J♥ and Adeniya was sent to the payout desk to sign for £86,350 - significantly less than he'd have been expecting having started as chip leader. Adeniya appears to be a precocious talent and this will not be the last time we follow his three- and four-betting antics on the tour.
Team PokerStars Pro Juan Manuel Pastor scored a solid fourth-place finish picking up £200,000 in the process. Pastor largely let the action rage around him, understandable given his seat one to the right of Spindler. All-in and at risk for the first time Pastor tabled pocket nines, Spindler pocket aces in a four-handed cooler.
That left three with Andre Klebanov scoring the bonus goal of winning his £5,250 buy-in back courtesy of a last longer bet from Skrill, official payment provider sponsor of the European Poker Tour. The German had his ace-queen rivered by O'Dwyer's ace-five, the American saying all along that he had 'a feeling' that he'd suckout.
That left two players and one felt that the heads up wouldn't last long. It didn't. Spindler's A♣K♦ all-in pre-flop dominating and holding against O'Dwyer's K♠J♣. The tall American had stood up to watch the board run out before ruing his decision: "I should never have stood up," he explained. "I have been telling people to sit down all week, and now I have stood up in heads-up the first time I have got it in bad. I guess I deserve to have got such a terrible flop!"
The flop in question was 7♣8♦A♦ and despite catching a jack on the turn O'Dwyer's hand couldn't suckout. Spindler's hand held giving him the title, £750,000 and the Shamballa winner's bracelet which is worth more than €10,000.
See you at EPT San Remo, running 21-27 October, in just a couple of weeks.
To catch up with all the action from today click on the link below and to see all the payouts click here:
Thanks go to photographer Neil Stoddart who captured the triumphs, agonies and mainly motionless faces of the final table players today. Credit must go to his images as he owns copyright.