Last month in London, a 21-year-old Belgian poker player named Bart Lybaert recorded the first cash of his young career. Suffice to say, 139th place for £1,200 at the UKIPT main event did not set the media wires buzzing.
However Bart Lybaert has now recorded the second cash of his life. And as he told reporters tonight in the King's Casino, Rozvadov, it was one hundred times as big as his first.
Lybaert is the first winner on season three of the Eureka Poker Tour. He takes €115,000 for beating a field of 421 players in this €1,000 buy in tournament, with €500,000 guaranteed.
"It feels really awesome," Lybaert said. "This is the first time I've got so deep in a tournament...Everything went my way. I didn't have a downswing at all. It went all up."
Lybaert was in no doubt what this victory means for his future aspirations. "I can live my dream, travel and play poker," he said. When he was handed his trophy by Leon Tsoukernik, the owner of King's casino, Lybaert joked that the two would see one another again in Monte Carlo in May. Tsoukernik is already booked to play the €100,000 High Roller event. "I'll join you, I have one hundred thousand now," Lybaert said.
The way he is playing at the moment, he might have much more than that by then.
Lybaert's tournament really caught alight on day two, at the end of which he bagged up a chip-leading 607,000. That would have been close to an average stack for the final, two days later, but as it was, Lybaert brought more than 1.5m to today's showdown.
As he said himself, it was pretty much one way traffic at the final and the perfect execution of a game plan. He let the short stacks run one another over: Ronald Szczerba knocked out Dirk Recknagel in eighth, but then Szczerba perished to Kasparas Klezys.
At that stage, Klezys had the biggest stack and playing the most aggressive poker. But Lybaert had position on the fearsome Lithuanian and won a major pot with a rivered straight against a turned set of queens.
Giovanni Mazza then took temporary charge, busting both Thomas Erler, the overnight leader, and Klezys in consecutive hands to bring us down to four. The quartet of Lybaert, Mazza, Bulent Demirtas and Fabian Leib could not agree the terms of a deal, so they played on.
Even though Lybaert would have taken the most at that stage, the breakdown in negotiations only seemed to favour the Belgian. He bullied Mazza into something of a meltdown, requiring the Italian to step away from the table for a while. And then Lybaert knocked out Demirtas, winning a crucial race.
Lybaert was massively dominant three-handed and there was something in the demeanour of both Leib and Mazza that suggested they knew they were playing for second. Lybaert won another race against Mazza's small stack to send Mazza into the arms of his vocal supporting rail. Lybaert then went heads up against Leib with an eight-to-one chip lead.
Leib had been the chip leader at the start of day two, and had also maintained a big stack all the way to this final. Lybaert and Leib evidently shared a good deal of mutual respect and joked with one another frequently throughout the final, including during the heads up battle.
But Leib also seemed exhausted from the constant pressure being exerted on him from Lybaert. And although he doubled up a couple of times, Lybaert just came back at him and ground him down again.
Even though the last hand of the night was something of an outdraw -- Lybaert's A♠3♠ rivering a three to beat Leib's A♥T♦ -- there weren't many people in Rozvadov who could deny that that best man had won. (You can take a look back at full blow-by-blow coverage in our final table updates page.)
Chris De Meulder, the Team PokerStars Pro, had been following his friend from the rail throughout and instantly leapt up to celebrate the title heading back to Belgium. "I knew it from day two," De Meulder said. "We had the same stack (at one point) but half an hour later I was out and he had 500K."
Lybaert didn't disagree, and why would he. He had the trophy to prove De Meulder right.
The Eureka Poker Tour now moves on to Dubrovnik in Croatia in May. Satellites are running every day on PokerStars, so get playing to book your spot in the sun. One suspects you'll see Bart Lybaert there. He will be the man to beat.
Eureka Poker Tour, Czech Republic, Main Event
Date: 20-24 March
Buy in: €1,000
Total prize pool: €500,000
Final table results:
1 - Bart Lybaert, Belgium, €115,000
2 - Fabian Leib, Germany, €77,250
3 - Giovanni Mazza, Italy, €47,500
4 - Bulent Demirtas, Germany, €36,875
5 - Kasparas Klezys, Lithuania, Pokerstars qualifier, €28,125
6 - Thomas Erler, Germany, €20,000
7 - Ronald Szczerba, Germany, €15,000
8 - Dirk Recknagel, Germany, €11,250
Click through for full payouts.