It was not the late night epic of the EPT Copenhagen two weeks ago but the final of the EPT Warsaw had all the tension, the drama, and notably the long hours you’d expect from one of the major tournaments of the world. As the hour struck well past midnight German businessman Michael Schulze successfully over came Ricardo Sousa heads-up and was crowned EPT Warsaw Champion, picking up a cheque for PLN 2,154,000 or € 609,782.
After a final table that lasted over ten hours the 40-year-old held up his A-6 hand for the cameras, the hand that had overcome pocket sevens after a heads-up that had seen his initial chip lead escape him, and the momentum swing to the Portuguese.
To say that Michael had no prior expectation of winning in Warsaw is classic understatement. So confident was he that he would not make it to day two, or day three, or the final for that matter, Michael re-booked his flight each day, his room each day and even his dinner voucher each day. How’s that for optimism.
But he did arrive here today as chip leader, and his tight and considered style would always leave him as a favourite as the hours grew longer. “I only play for fun, the money doesn’t really matter to me.” He’d said earlier today. But regardless of that the title of EPT Warsaw champion cannot be bought.
As play began he was up against some formidable opposition…
Seat 1 — Trond Erik Eidsvig – Norway – 220,000
Seat 2 — Christian Öman – Sweden – 110,000
Seat 3 — Mehdi Ouakhir – France – PokerStars qualifier – 360,000
Seat 4 — Niclas Svensson – Sweden – 174,000
Seat 5 — Dan Woolson – USA – PokerStars qualifier – 164,000
Seat 6 — Juan Maceiras – Spain – PokerStars qualifier – 437,000
Seat 7 — Michael Schulze – Germany – 1,162,000
Seat 8 — Ricardo Sousa – Portugal – 756,000
Seat 9 — Mathias Viberg – Sweden – PokerStars qualifier — 229,000
One name immediately stood out, that of Trond Erik Eidsvig. The Norwegian was making his third final table appearance in season four alone, fresh from EPT Copenhagen where he cashed and also won Rookie of the Year at the Scandinavian Poker Awards. It also featured Ricardo Sousa aiming to become the first winner from his home country of Portugal. His play the day before had secured him a solid stack, second only to chip leader Schulze. A word should also be said for the four PokerStars qualifiers who had made it this far. None of whom looked out of place in these latter stages.
To the final, where the absence of television cameras allowed the old fashioned close rail environment last seen when Arnaud Mattern won in Prague. The table was surrounded by a press rail and that by a spectator rail, consisting mostly of people standing on seats for a two-tiered coliseum effect.
It took just ten minutes for the first player to fall, that being PokerStars qualifier Dan Woolson. He bet out on a Q-3-5 flop only to find fellow PokerStars qualifier Mehdi Ouakhir moving all-in. Dan did the same and incredibly so did another PokerStars qualifier Mathias Viberg in seat nine. Woolson must have felt confident turning over aces but Mehdi turned over K-Q of clubs for a flush draw and Mathias pocket fives for a set – a set that held, sending Dan out in ninth place for PLN 122,060.
An hour later it was Rookie of the Year Trond Eidsvig sent to the rail. He moved in with A-T and was ahead when Juan Maceiras called with A-9. But a nine on the river left Trond pondering how long it will be before he takes down an EPT crown; out in eighth place for PLN 201,040.
Niclas Svensson went in seventh moving in with pocket fours and called by Mehdi with Q-T. The flop came 5-8-5 and the turn was a deuce. The river though, an eight, made a second pair on the board, neutralising Niclas’s pair, sending him home with PLN 272,840.
After a series of all-ins that had both the crowd and Juan himself jumping up and down with joy, Juan Maceiras went next. The young Spaniard, who had held the chip lead earlier in the week, couldn’t hang on forever and pushed with pocket deuces, getting called by Mathias Viberg with A-K. The flop was fine but the ace on the turn quashed hopes of advancement for Juan, out in sixth place with PLN 344,640.
At the dinner break it was still Michael Schulze way ahead, with Frenchman Mehdi Ouakhir in pursuit.
Christian Öman – Sweden – 228,000
Mehdi Ouakhir – France – PokerStars qualifier – 747,000
Michael Schulze – Germany – 1,526,000
Ricardo Sousa – Portugal – 510,000
Mathias Viberg – Sweden – PokerStars qualifier — 581,000
Over three and a half hours later and young Swede Christian Oman, who had survived a six hour day two spell to the right of Andy Black, was out in fifth place. He called an initial raise by Michael and checked to the turn – a board by now reading K-Q-7-9. Whilst Christian checked Michael moved all-in leaving Christian to call for his last 250k and showing K-5. Michael had A-9 with the river bringing another to match the one on the turn, sending Christian out to face the cameras with PLN 437,980.
Mehdi Ouakhir had played an aggressive game all day, at some points surging ahead, at other points struggling to keep up. By now he had become the short stack and pushed from the small blind with Q-3 – Michael Schulze calling with pocket tens. The tens held and now just three players remained with Mehdi out with PLN 538,500.
Michael Schulze – Germany – 1,750,000
Ricardo Sousa – Portugal – 800,000
Mathias Viberg – Sweden – PokerStars qualifier — 940,000
The three final players had each shown themselves to be capable of winning the event, regardless of chip count. No sign of impatience, no zealous over-ractions either, just careful play. But someone had to go next.
Mathias had found himself unlucky before his elimination. Just moments before he’d called Ricardo’s all-in with pocket jacks to Ricardo’s J-T. But the Portuguese had found himself a straight draw on the flop, and flush draw on the turn which he made on the river. Mathias was left with shock and just 100k to deal with, which he pushed in a few hands later. A ‘gamble’ he’d said, showing 6-2 to Michael’s pocket fours. The flop gave him miracle straight draws but his day was at an end. Third place for the PokerStars qualifier, and PLN 718,000.
That was a full two hours before the heads-up reached its final hand. Thoughts of a quick heads-up had faded away long ago with neither player, to their credit, prepared to let go of any momentum they’d gained. Ultimately it would come to two hands, within the space of five minutes.
First Michael made it 150k to go, which Ricardo called. On a 3c-4c-7s flop Ricardo checked, Michael made it 200k and Ricardo re-raised, 400k in total. When Michael moved in the crowd got to their feet, regardless of how tired they were feeling after a long day. Ricardo thought for a while, spinning his card protector around as Michael sat waiting. But the longer he waited the more he seemed less likely to call. He couldn’t go on and mucked his cards.
Now the momentum was back with the German…
Ricardo — 1,400,000
Michael — 2,200,000
Five minutes later Ricardo led out, 150k from the small blind. Michael then re-raised, a massive 500k which seemed out of step with the previous betting. Things kicked off further when Ricardo announced he was all-in. Michael was never going to do anything else than call and when he did he shook the hand of his opponent before turning over A-6 of spades. For Ricardo pocket sevens.
The flop came 4d-2c-5h, leaving Ricardo ahead but with Michael needing either an ace or a three. Ricardo’s luck had evidently run out with an ace hitting the turn. Now left looking for a seven the deuce on the river was no good for Ricardo. No jumping up and down, no fist punching, just a job well done by Michael Schulze who shook hands once more with Ricardo before thanking the crowd.
Naturally Ricardo’s face was the picture of disappointment but he had played a great tournament, chalking up his best results at an EPT for himself and for his country. It was especially impressive when you consider he only began playing poker six months ago – PLN 1,220,600 is not bad for a rookie.
Michael stood patiently for pictures, allowing himself a glance or two at the suitcase full of money that adds up to PLN 2,154,000. The money may not always matter but the reputation as a winner has got to feel good. He’s already booked in at San Remo next month and as an EPT winner has his seat at the EPT Grand Final in Monte Carlo in the bag.
We’ll see him there.
Final table result at EPT Warsaw –
1st — Michael Schulze — Germany — PLN 2,154,000
2nd — Ricardo Sousa — Portugal — PLN 1,1220,600
3rd — Mathias Viberg — Sweden — PokerStars qualifier — PLN 718,000
4th — Mehdi Ouakhir — France — PokerStars qualifier — PLN 538,500
5th — Christian Oman — Sweden — — PLN 437,980
6th — Juan Maceiras — Spain — PokerStars qualifier — PLN 344,640
7th — Niclas Svensson — Sweden — PLN 272,840
8th — Trond Eidsvig — Norway — PLN 201,040
9th — Daniel Woolson USA — PokerStars qualifier — PLN 122,060
Photos © Neil Stoddart