With so many players aware of the ICM and insane pay jumps involved, dynamics were ever-changing at the final table of the EPT Online $25k event. Short stacks were forced to take stubborn stances, and whoever took the chip lead tended to yield their stack intelligently to maintain control.

Top pros from around the world were in the mix, including David “MonkeyBausss” Laka, who won the EPT Online $5k High Roller a few days ago, top ranked pro Joao “Naza114” Vieira, high stakes PLO cash game specialist Eelis “EEE27” Parssinen, and many other very familiar faces.

Eyes were also on underdog Jamie “jamienixon90” Nixon from the UK, who earned his way into the Super High Roller when, in his own words, he “tilt regged” for a $75 Spin N Go and won a ticket. He’s converted that ticket into a final table position and the potential for a truly life changing result. We couldn’t help but root for him.

Andrei “ragAAAila19” Boghean had 5.5 million chips at the start of Day 2, giving him a 2-1 chip lead over second place Christian “WATnlos” Rudolph. Blinds resumed at 35k/70k.

Here’s how the chip stacks looked as action commenced:

Player Country Chips
Andrei “ragAAAila19” Boghean Romania 5,538,837
Christian “WATnlos” Rudolph Austria 2,794,731
Eelis “EEE27” Parssinen Finland 2,368,588
Joao “Naza114” Vieira Portugal 2,297,300
Artur “mararthur1” Martirosyan Russia 2,102,161
“bencb789” Austria 1,854,998
David “monkeyBausss” Laka Spain 1,263,704
Juan “Malaka$tyle” Pardo Spain 1,083,843
“jamienixon90” UK 945,832

Andrei Boghean’s reign as chip lead

The first major hand came when short stacked David “MonkeyBausss” Laka raised with K♣ K♦ and held for a double up against Rudolph’s 10♠ 10♦ to bring himself back into the game.

Chip leader Andrei Boghean scooped a couple of early pots with pocket pairs to accumulate chips, while “bencb789”, winner of the 2016 WCOOP $100k buy-in event for $1.1 million and head coach at Raise Your Edge, started to show promising signs with big shoves and re-shoves.

At this point, Joao “Naza114” Vieira struggled to gain ground, often finding himself out-flopped and having to concede small pots.

Then came the first of many inevitable moments. Boghean raised early position with J♣ J♠ and Artur “macarthur1” Martirosyan called in the small blind with K♣ 10♣. The flop came 3♣ 4♥ 10♥. Martirosyan opted for a check raise to get his chips in the middle. Boghean held, eliminating Martirosyan, who finished ninth for $62,353.

Artur “mararthur1” Martirosyan was first out on the final table

This hand, combined with aggressive displays throughout, brought Boghean’s stack up to over 10 million chips, giving him a 4-1 chip lead over now second place “bencb789”.

It was a gap that Boghean ultimately struggled to expand on. He lost a flip against Rudolph and then made a costly re-shove with K♣ J♣ against Eelis “EEE27” Parssinen, who happened to hold with his K♥ K♠.

Vieira also found a double up of his own around this time, his K♠ K♥ holding against Rudolph’s J♠ J♥.

Huge returns for Nixon

Jamie Nixon, the UK player who won his way in via the Spin N Go, had started the final table with a short stack and, unfortunately, didn’t pick up too many spots along the way to gain traction. With less than 10BB remaining, he made a button shove with J♦ 8♥ and was called by Vieira’s A♣ 9♠.

It must have been a rollercoaster moment for Nixon, who paired up with his eights on the flop, only for Vieira to find his straight on the turn. Nixon finished in eighth place for $71,387, still winning over 950 times his $75 buy-in. The knockout might have hurt him at the time, but overall he’ll be chuffed with the result in the long run.

Jamie Nixon gained entry to the $25k event via a Spin N Go. Here he talks with James and Joe prior to his final table appearance

“Sudden death nature”

With seven left, the event suddenly took on a faster pace, with exciting all-ins and several players fighting for their tournament life in every pot that they chose to enter. In the words of Joe Stapleton over at PS Live, a “sudden death nature” took over, with Rudolph, Juan “Malaka$tyle” Pardo and Laka all down to precarious stack sizes.

Laka had different ideas though. He spent much of the first hour or so limping into pots with “shoving stacks”, and flat calling raises in “push-fold situations”. His play was proving eye-catching, if a little confusing to watch. Was there method to this apparent madness?

Apparently so. As we know, Laka has already taken down the EPT Online $5k event this year, and has over $1.7 million in live winnings. He’s also known to be a Spin N Go and short stack expert. Admittedly, he did seem to have a knack for clutching on and scraping back.

Meanwhile, we were treated to impressive bluffs, first from bencb789, who managed to get Parssinen to fold top pair, and then from Pardo, who made an over-bet bluff that forced a fold out of bencb789’s rivered top pair.

Overall the atmosphere was tenser than in the $10k, the pay jumps bigger, and the players just as evenly matched, so it was great to see players still finding room to level each other with tricky play.

Stacks start to even out

As players sat back down after the break, blinds were looming and fortunes were starting to to change.

Boghean continued to show aggression with an under-the-gun raise with A♣ 8♣, finding himself forced to make a pots odds call against Laka’s 8bb K♣ K♠ reshove. Laka’s Kings held for the double up.

Then, Vieira raised pre and Boghean defended his big blind with Q♦ 9♥. The flop came Q♥ 2♥ 6♣, giving Boghean the pair and Vieira the opportunity to extract value with his pocket K♣ K♠. An A♦ on the river slowed down the action and saved Boghean from paying full price, but his grip on the lead was sliding. Parssinen, benchb78 and Vieira were all starting to look like threats.

The next hand changed the course of the game. Boghean raised K♥ 2♥ and benchb78 defended with 10♣ J♥. The flop came 10♥ 7♥ J♦, giving bencb789 two pair and Boghean the flush draw. Boghean follows with a continuation bet and the turn comes 6♥ to finish the flush. Boghean, now feeling great about his hand, bets again. He gets called. The river comes J♠.

It’s a full house for bencb789, who makes a clever check raise to double up and wrestle the chip lead from Boghean for the first time.

Laka’s monkeying around

All the way through the tournament, David “MonkeyBausss” Laka had been rolling with a strange and unorthodox strategy that had player and observer alike pondering the meaning. At one point, Laka folded pocket 9s to a button shove with 15bb behind, then soon after called a min-raise with pockets 7s with only 14bb (and did, for the record, win the pot).

In the next significant hand of the tourney, Laka limped the small blind with [A] [T]. Pardo was looking down at K♣ 8♠ and sitting on a 10bb stack. With Laka limping so often, it made sense. He shoved. Laka made the call and the flop ran out in his favour with a full house.

Whatever this MonkeyBausss was doing, it seemed to be working. Juan “Malaka$tyle” Pardo’s tournament run ended in seventh place, and he takes $95,309.

David "MonkeyBauss" Laka

David “MonkeyBauss” Laka demonstrated an unorthodox style that was difficult to pin down

Six players, six figure payouts

With six players remaining, all of them now guaranteed six figure payouts, the dynamics at the final table of the EPT Online $25k Super High Roller started to completely change.

bencb789 pulled away with a 2-1 chip lead over second place Parssinen, and was now able to wield this mighty stack to his advantage. He seemed to be scooping chips in every pot he got involved with. Both him and Parssinen also showed pre-flop finesses with timely 4-bets to claim additional chips.

In a defining moment, Vieira raised A♠ Q♠ under-the-gun, and bencb789 defended his blind with 3♣ 2♣. The flop fell 3♥ 3♠ 8♦. After both players checked back the flop, the turn came the 9♠ to give Vieira a flush draw and all but seal his fate. The river came a blank 5♣, and bencb789 shoved their trips.

To an outsider, or just anyone who’s not a next level pro, this seems like an easy fold. Vieira went deep into a thinking-hole. Can he make a “hero call” with Ace high here? He’s known for it. And there’s plenty of bluffing hands in bencb789’s range. Vieira did make the call, but on this occasion it was badly timed. He finishes fifth for $127,249.

Laka showed more of his maverick style with a 12bb limp call flat on the button holding A♦ Q♦, which gave him a double up against Boghean’s A♥ 8♥ shove. This was followed by a pre-flop fold with pocket tens the next hand that just didn’t seem to quite add up, leaving the verdict out on whether his play tonight was pure genius, or just genius in the making.

João “Naza114” Vieira is eliminated in fifth place

Cautious ICM atmosphere

A somewhat cautious atmosphere hung in the air as we entered the third hour of final table play. There were huge ICM considerations at this point, with the pay jumps increasing exponentially and Boghean’s short stack prompting a tightness from both Laka and Rudolph. It was an atmosphere that big stacks Parssinen and bencb789 soon picked up on, and actively exploited.

Boghean tripled up from four big blinds, but eventually got tangled up in a pot with Parssinen. Both players made top pair on the river, but Parssinen held the better kicker. Boghean, who started out with the chip lead, had finished in fifth place for $169,892.

bencb789 was still sitting on the chip lead, with Parssinen now coming up behind in second and continuing to close the gap. That is, until bencb789 picked up a huge pot with Aces against his rival big stack.

The next hand, bencb789 raised the button with K♠ 10♦, and Laka finally made his stand, pushing 11bb with A♣ 6♥. The 10♠ on the flop ends it for Laka, who should be incredibly happy walking away with $225,826 for fourth place given his approach of laddering up with solid ICM poker.

The final three and no deals to be made

Here’s how the stacks looked with three left:

bencb789: 10,643,966
Eelis “EEE27” Parssinen: 6,295,008
Christian “WATnlos” Rudolph: 3,311,026

All this was about to change rapidly. First, Christian Rudolph made a big blind reshove with 3♠ 3[c] and held against bencb789. This evened the score somewhat between the players and prompted Rudolph to propose a deal, which was quickly declined by bencb789.

After a few rounds of action, bencb789 raised 5♥ 5♦ and was met with a chunky reshove from Rudolph. bencb789 made the call, only to see Rudolph flip over 8♠ 8♦. The higher pair holds, and benchb78 is reduced to the danger zone, only to see his time at the tables come to an end two hands later in a simple blind versus blind hand in which Parssinen’s [K] [J] held over Rudolph’s K♠ 7♥.

Bencb789 finished third for $303,838. He stood out as a dominant force on the EPT Online $25k final table, using superb pre-flop raises and post flop reads and looking especially dangerous once he gained the chip lead. bencb789 has also pledged to give 10% of his winnings to charity, so all the better and well deserved.

“Nah, let’s play”

With nearly $140k difference between first and second, Rudolph once again asked for the deal. This time, it was Parssinen who turned it down, saying “Nah, let’s play”. It’s like these players have millions of dollars in their bankroll or something…

And that $140k was decided just a couple of hands later. Rudolph raised the button with K♥ 10♥ and Parssinen makes the re-raise with J♠ J♥. Rudolph called and the flop came 10♠ 6♣ 4♦, pairing up Rudolph. The chips are nearly always going in the middle here!

Parssinen bets, Rudolph raises, Parssinen shoves and we’re all in! The turn brings a 8♥ and the river an 2♣ – Jacks hold, and we have a new EPT Online champion!

Eelis "EEE27" Pärssinen, EPT Online 10 Champion

The final hand making Eelis “EEE27” Pärssinen an EPT Online Champion

Christian “WATnlos” Rudolph played an excellent game throughout. He has perhaps been under-represented in this write up. Rudolph chipped away with clever play, tightened up when needed, and secured second place – all after winning third in the $10k High Roller just a few days ago. This time around, he earns second for an even more impressive $404,324.

Congratulations to Eelis “EEE27” Parssinen, winner of the EPT Online $25k event. He fought through a seriously tense and incredibly skilful final table to win an EPT Trophy and over half a million dollars; $539,819 to be exact.

Here are the final positions and payouts for the $25k Super High Roller:

Player Country Prize
Eelis “EEE27” Parssinen Finland $539,819
Christian “WATnlos” Rudolph Austria $404,324
“bencb789” Austria $302,837
David “monkeyBausss” Laka Spain $222,826
Andrei “ragAAAila19” Boghean Romania $169,893
Joao “Naza114” Vieira Portugal $127,249
Juan “Malaka$tyle” Pardo Spain $95,310
“jamienixon90” UK $71,387
Artur “mararthur1” Martirosyan Russia $62,353

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