Benjamin Pollak overcame Koray Aldemir heads-up on the final night of EPT Monte Carlo, walking away with the €705,840 top prize in the €25,000 High Roller, his second major title in the past year.
It was a long haul to the championship. Sergio Aido came into the final day of the tournament with the lead, looking to score a Monte Carlo double when the day began at 12:30 p.m. CET with the stacks situated like so:
|Seat||Name||Country||Chip Count||Big Blinds|
Two players found their way to the rail during the first level.
Joao Vieira began the day with just 10 big blinds in his stack and made an early move when he picked up A♣4♥. Unfortunately for him Aido woke up with A♠J♥, which held to eliminate Vieira in ninth place.
The second elimination was more surprising. Daniel Dvoress sat just three big blinds off the lead when play began, but a rough ride meant he only lasted long enough for a single pay jump.
First Dvoress lost a race with A♠K♠ against Michael Addamo’s 10♥10♣ to double Addamo’s stack over 1.3 million. Left with just 10 blinds, Dvoress then jammed with 9♥8♥ and picked up a call from Laszlo Bujtas. The latter’s J♦J♠ was behind after the turn of the 7♣10♥7♦6♠ board gave Dvoress a ten-high straight, but the J♥ river gave him a full house and knocked Dvoress out in eighth.
The brisk start to the day’s action was no harbinger of things to come. The short stacks doubled as needed for the next three hours, making it look more and more likely that a cooler or a coin-flip situation would strike the next name from the lineup. It turned out to be the latter when EPT Prague Main Event finalist Laurynas Levinskas’s A♥K♣ couldn’t outrun Koray Aldemir’s J♣J♦, sending the Lithuanian to collect his payout in seventh.
Eliminating Levinskas boosted Aldemir’s standing before he took the lead minutes later with a triple-barrel bet that drove Marton Czuczor out of the pot. Then Laszlo Bujtas struck the next knockout blow in nasty fashion. He open-shoved an effective 14-blind stack from the small blind with Q♠9♣ only to see Aido call him with A♥A♣ in the big — and then he caught a queen and a nine on the flop, cracking Aido’s aces to eliminate him in sixth.
That put Aldemir over the 2-million-chip mark for the second time today. Pollak joined him there minutes later when he called an Addamo jam, holding A♦10♣ to Addamo’s A♣6♠. Addamo never got a hint of help from the board and departed in fifth.
Aldemir quickly jumped back in front, though, with a huge call on the river of a dangerous board. Holding A♣7♣ and facing an all-in bet from Bujtas, who had him covered, Aldemir used a time bank card, studied the A♥Q♣K♥3♦8♣ board carefully, and then slid a shot tower of chips forward for the call. His pair of aces was good — Bujtas had bombed the river with nothing more than an unimproved 10♠2♦.
Aldemir stacked up over 4 million with that win. And though Bujtas managed to work his remaining two big blinds into nine, he would fall in fourth minutes later when his A♥K♠ failed to hold against Czuczor’s K♣10♣.
With the table three-handed, the players decided to take a dinner break. Once they returned it only took 15 minutes for an action board to end Czuczor’s tournament. Czuczor saw a free flop from the big blind with K♣7♦ after Aldemir limped the button. Czuczor check-called 80,000 on the Q♣J♥7♣ flop and 350,000 after making two pair on the K♥ turn. When Aldemir shoved the Q♠ river Czuczor thought for a bit before calling, only to see that his kings and sevens were no good. Aldemir’s Q♦J♦ rivered a full house, knocking Czuczor out in third.
Aldemir held the advantage with 4.525 million chips to Pollak’s 2.575 million as heads-up play began on the 40,000/80,000 level. He nearly put Pollak away within just a few minutes, calling with A♥8♦ for top pair when the Frenchman jammed with 10♠4♠ on the turn of a board reading A♠7♠K♦2♥. But Pollak’s flush draw came home on the Q♠ river, moving the two players’ stacks to within six blinds of one another.
Aldemir began pulling away again but found himself in a nasty spot half an hour later when he ran J♠J♦ into Pollak’s A♠A♥. That boosted Pollak into the lead with 5.15 million chips but the game was far from over. Over the next hour Aldemir chipped up until he was even with Pollak again. At that point they talked about a potential deal but didn’t settle on anything concrete. One more hour passed before they found themselves essentially even in chips and agreed on a chop down the middle, leaving €50,000 and the trophy on the table for the winner.
Even with the deal in place, play would continue for nearly another hour. Pollak finally began to wear Aldemir down, though the latter survived a desperate all-in with Q♦J♥, making a straight against Pollak’s K♦Q♠ to prolong the match. Finally Aldemir moved in with K♠10♣ on a king-high board and Pollak called with 9♦9♥. He needed help and he got it with the 9♠ on the river, making a set to close out the tournament.
“You’re a tough one to play against,” Pollak said to Aldemir shortly after his victory. “You gave me a headache for two hours.” This marks Pollak’s second major high roller title in the last year, following up on his EPT Barcelona €50K Single-Day High Roller win in August 2018.
Congratulations to both Pollak and Aldemir for overcoming some of the toughest poker players in the world and sharing in a massive deal at the end of another successful EPT Monte Carlo festival.
* denotes results of a heads-up deal