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The alpha papa – Alexandru Papazian
What is it Joe Stapleton says every season on EPT Live? “The year of Romania“, right?

Well, could 2016 actually be it? I mean, first there was the announcement of the Eureka Poker Tour in Bucharest kicking off on May 18th, at which Team PokerStars Pro Daniel Negreanu will be playing in the birth country of his parents. Then there’s the wave of talented Romanian pros who have been taking the EPT and other PokerStars tours by storm, prompting Stapes to say it in the first place.

One thing’s for sure, Alexandru Papazian must have been listening. The young Romanian beat Alexandros Kolonias heads-up to take down €25K high roller here in Monaco tonight for a huge score of €1,197,000 – the biggest ever live cash by a Romanian. His victory sends him up to third on Romania’s all-time money list, breaking the records of 1,701 of his countrymen.

The PokerStars and Monte-Carlo®Casino EPT12 Grand Final has been all about breaking records. First we had the biggest ever main event in the history of the Grand Final; now you can add the biggest ever €25K to that list. Here’s how it played out.

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It was a star-studded field bolstered by plenty of live satellite qualifiers, and that created a monster prize pool of €5,659,500. A total of 175 players entered, with 56 re-entries. There would be 31 players finishing in the money, but the title of bubble boy would go to Ami Barer, yesterday. Once the bubble burst the bust-outs came thick and fast, as expected, with Steve O’Dwyer, Ivan Luca, Dan Smith, Day 1 chip leader Niall Farrell, and Kid Poker himself all making the money.

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Negreanu came 15th for €83,760
Only 12 made it to the final day, which you can read through in detail here. and it was Zvi Stern who held the chip lead at the beginning of the business end. Here’s how the counts looked at the beginning of the day:

Name Country Chips
Zvi Stern Israel 1,638,000
Max Silver UK 1,342,000
Alexandros Kolonias Greece 1,338,000
Alexandru Papazian Romania 1,231,000
Ivan Deyra France 1,160,000
Rafael Da Silva Moraes Brazil 1,026,000
Eddy Maksoud Lebanon 907,000
Imad Derwiche France 840,000
Anthony Zinno USA 816,000
Saar Wilf Israel 509,000
Thomas Miller USA 383,000
Ramin Hajiyev Azerbaijan 366,000

Ramin Hajiyev was the first to be eliminated, followed by Thomas Miller and Ivan Deyra. That got us down to one table, but it wasn’t the official final table until Saar Wilf was eliminated in 9th place for €122,250. The Israeli got his stack in with Ace-Jack, but was trailing the Ace-Queen of Anthony Zinno who ended up making Queens full.

It didn’t take long for us to find an eighth place finisher. Imad Derwiche knows all about this event as he finished runner-up in last year’s Grand Final €25K to Charlie Carrel. He was super relaxed all day, dancing in between hands and joking with just about everybody, but he came into the final eight very short with less than ten big blinds. He went all-in over Anthony Zinno’s 100,000 open for 325,000 with the J♥J♠, which Zinno called. He was racing against Zinno’s A♠Q♠, and suffered a Barry Greenstein – aka an Ace on the river – to hit the rail. Still, he picked up €147,710, so it was another great showing for the Frenchman.

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Derwiche out in 8th
The next to fall was Max Silver. He went from chip leader to out very quickly, losing a massive pot to Eddy Maksoud. The Lebanese player opened only to be three-bet by Alexandru Papazian, followed by a four-bet all-in from Silver. Only Maksoud called and it was Silver’s pocket tens against the Ace-King of Maksoud for a three million chip pot. A King on the flop was all it took to cripple Silver, who was then down to just two big blinds. He committed them with Queen-Jack against Papazian’s six-four, but the Romanian made two pair on the river and Silver was gone. He collected €202,050.

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No gold for Silver
At this point Alexandros Kolonias was building a big chip lead, and he’d add even more to it by busting Anthony Zinno in sixth. The American was short – having just doubled Rafael Da Silva Moraes – when he shoved with the Queen-Jack, only for Kolonias to isolate with a shove of his own. The Green had pocket Queens and the ladies held up. For his run, Zinno won €276,750.

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Zinno fell in 6th
Eddy Maksoud would make his exit in fifth for €364,500. He was very short and got the last of chips in with ace-deuce, which Papazian would beat with his ace-ten, making two pair on the turn and leaving Maksoud drawing dead.

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Nice run for Maksoud
That got us down to four, and most of the chips were in front of Papazian at this point. He would eliminate Zvi Stern in fourth too to take an even bigger lead. Stern shoved on the button, Papazian isolated from the small blind and Rafael Da Silva Moraes gave up his big blind. Stern had Ace-seven and would need to hit something to beat the pocket Queens of Papazian, but alas it wasn’t to be. Stern collected €460,700.

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Good showing for Stern
Papazian had a huge chip lead when play got three-handed, holding 7.9 million to Kolonias’ 2.3 million and Da Silva Moraes’ 1.35 million.

The shortest of those three would be next to go. He called all-in against Papazian after hitting top pair on a Queen-high flop – the only problem was that the Romanian also had a Queen, plus a better kicker. The Brazilian couldn’t hit two-pair on the turn or river and he went to collect his €568,200.

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Da Silva Moraes thanks his rail
Heads up counts:

Alexandru Papazian – 7,390,000
Alexandros Kolonias – 4,160,000

While these two may not be big names on the live circuit, online it’s a different story. Papazian, playing under the screen name ’tilt21sted’ on PokerStars, has $1.68 million in online winnings – his biggest score coming in a TCOOP event in January when he finished runner-up for $209,300. Kolonias is no stranger to the virtual felt either; he’s amassed $956,000 on PokerStars, $365,500 of which came from a third place finish in the 2015 WCOOP $10K high roller.

After a couple of hands of heads-up play, Papazian and Kolonias decided to go on a dinner break. When they returned Kolonias managed a double up to take the chip lead when an all-in pre-flop hand saw him win with Ace-King against King-Queen. But Papazian didn’t get flustered; he went straight back to work and took the chip lead again not long after.

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Kolonias v Papazian
The heads-up battle was fast-paced and almost entirely tank-less. From here on the lead switched on a pot-by-pot basis; an important hand saw Kolonias make a 1.3 million call on the river of a K♣8♦6♥J♣K♦ board but muck when Papazian showed the J♠9♦. That gave Papazian 10 million to Kolonias’ 1.45 million, but of course it wasn’t over yet.

Kolonias doubled when his K♣8♥ held against Q♣J♥ all-in pre-flop, then was chipped down once more. Another double came soon after when his J♥8♥ paired on the 10♦6♠K♦J♣2♠ board to beat Papazian’s A♥7♠.

But then it was Papazian’s turn to multiply his stack by two. Papazian limped with the A♦6♣ and Kolonias jammed with the K♠Q♦. After the call, the board ran out A♣4♦5♠8♦3♥, and that sent Papazian’ stack up just under 10 million again. A couple of hands later and it was all over; Kolonias got it in good with pocket nines against Ace-four, but a four on the flop and crucial Ace on the river secured Papazian the win.

Fellow Romanian and EPT11 Deuville runner-up Dany Parlafes was railing Papazian for the entire heads-up battle. He’s a man who knows how close you can get to a prestigious EPT trophy and then see it all slip away.

That didn’t happen for Alexandru Papazian. After all, it’s the year of Romania.

EPT Grand Final €25K high roller
Dates: May 4-6, 2016
Buy in: €25,000
Entries: 231 (175 players plus 56 re-entries)
Prize pool: €5,659,500

1 – Alexandru Papazian, Romania, €1,197,000
2 – Alexandros Kolonias, Greece, €805,900
3 – Rafael Da Silva Moraes, Brazil, €568,200
4 – Zvi Stern, Israel, €460,700
5 – Eddy Maksoud, Lebanon, €364,500
6 – Anthony Zinno, United States, €276,750
7 – Max Silver, United Kingdom, €202,050
8 – Imad Derwiche, France, €147,710

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