It was a fitting way to end a magnificent event: two aggressive players playing for a first prize of €595,839. Both the Englishman William Fry and Ciprian Hrisca from Romania may have shared a friendly glass of wine before the heads-up began, but once the glasses were drained the gloves were off for a hand-to-hand battle of wits that culminated in an English triumph, bringing an end to a glorious week on the Danube.
The last hand came after less than five hours play. We went pillar to post in less than 300 minutes. Going into the heads-up battle, Hrisca held the initiative with a more than two-to-one chip lead, and he had also shown no sign of capitulation. But Fry stole the Big Mo’ shortly before the end when he double up with jack-ten against Hrisca’s pocket sevens, levelling the counts.
The end came when the players became embroiled in a pre-flop raising battle and got all their chips to the middle pre-flop. Fry showed pocket jacks and Hrisca flipped over A-6. The flop of Td-Qs-6s gave Hrisca some hope but the blanks on turn and river swung it towards Fry. After a short pause to resolve who covered whom, the 28-year-old Fry, a former casino croupier, was declared the winner and the first ever EPT Budapest champion.
The speed of the final only added to the drama and it was never long before something had the rail’s attention. Going into the day one name stood out, that of Johnny Lodden, the Norwegian pro with a background of legend when it comes to success online who, since switching to live events, had cashed six times on the EPT, falling agonisingly short of the final table on more than one occasion. That changed this week.
Alas, the final’s poster boy was not yet due that first elusive EPT win in Budapest. Lodden fell first for €53,200, within the early levels of play despite what must have looked like a reassuring pair of kings when he checked his cards. In what would become a massive pot Martin Jacobsen sent the Norwegian home when his 10-7 made a straight. That pot also crippled Zoltan Toth, the Hungarian local hero, who fell a few moments later, picking up €78,736 for seventh.
Hardcore EPT addicts will remember Gino Alacqua from his colourful season four runner-up spot in Prague. Today he celebrated his birthday but was unable to add an EPT title to the joy, his day ending in sixth place when he succumbed in a three way pot to Ciprian Hrisca, leaving in sixth place for €100,016.
Italy’s chances of an EPT winner took a serious blow with Alacqua’s loss but what hope did remain was put to bed when Marino Serenelli fell next in fifth place for €127,680. William Fry saw off Serenelli, shortly before bestowing the same fate on Albert Iversen. Iversen’s departure for €153,216 left us with three.
Jacobsen won his seat online at PokerStars and his result here proved that the decision to shift to poker-playing from the kitchen was a good one. At just 21 years of age, the former chef is now carving a name for himself around the poker tables. Jacobsen’s week’s work ended in third place and €197,904, busting in a hand against Hrisca who had ladled on the pressure by moving all-in on the river. The young Swede called for his tournament life with second pair but had run slap bang into Hrisca’s flush.
With remarkable haste, the final was now heads up, and in another few blurred minutes, we were crowning Fry, who became the first English winner since Julian Thew’s triumph in Baden on season four. Incidentally both Thew and Fry hail from Nottingham.
Hrisca’s performance should not go without note. The Romanian was playing in his first live event having only taken up the game 18 months ago in a home game with friends before making the leap to online cash games on PokerStars. Hrisca, who picked Budapest because it was closest to home, may well look upon his decision to take a short Hungarian holiday as one of his best, taking €342,608 back to Bucharest.
It brings our EPT Budapest coverage to a close. Don’t forget you can re-live events from today by checking out the links below.
Before that, there’s all the fun of the second season of the Latin America Poker Tour, beginning tomorrow in Costa Rica. And after that, we’ll be in Las Vegas, for the final table of the World Series of Poker Main Event, where the Million Dollar Men will be looking to seal their place in history.
It’s going to be hectic few weeks on PokerStars blog. Stay with us.
For now, it’s goodnight from Budapest.