The Super High Roller event is a magnet for the superstars: your Negreanus, your Iveys and your Esfanidiaris usually come out when the stakes are highest. But as the latter loitered by the seat assignment desk this morning, having only just bought in for the first time (he played a Shark Cage heat yesterday), another star in the making stood beside him, waiting to do the same.
Dzmitry Urbanovich was the undisputed headline maker at EPT Malta, winning four side events before the festival had even really got into its stride. The first of those titles came in the €25,000 Special High Roller event, which earned him €572,300 and essentially set him up to freeroll the rest of the season.
But for whatever reason, Urbanovich opted not to play the first day of this €100,000 yesterday and instead peeled the wrapping off a fresh stack of 250,000 this morning. With blinds at 3,000-6,000 in Level 9, that’s more than 41 big blinds. There’s still plenty of play.
Urbanovich found his seat, sandwiched between Leon Tsoukernik and Ole Schemion, the former starting with about 400,000 and the latter 930,000. Justin Bonomo (683,000) was opposite, with Byron Kaverman (380,000) and Piotr Franczak (another newcomer), also there. Urbanovich put his hood up, lowered shades over his eyes and put his headphones over his hood.
Tsoukernik busied himself attaching Kings Casino patches to all of his friends and horses in the tournament, while Koon called over a waitress and tossed a ten dollar bill on her tray as he made his first drinks order. “Dumb American,” he said. “Always gotta tip.”
That prompted Tsoukernik to talk about a time in New York when he accidentally “only” tipped 15 percent in a restaurant and was reproached by the maitre d’. He continued to attach his patches to players wandering past, each one representing some kind of generous donation to their tournament buy in, and offering quite convincing evidence that he is far from a miser with his money.
Urbanovich sat silently and folded from early position when given his first hand. Koon raised that pot from the button, picked up the blinds and antes unopposed, but then flipped over pocket aces.
“That was that ten dollar tip!” he said.
“No action though,” Schemion added. “Wrong timing.”
“I’ll take it,” Koon said, before pondering, “Should have tipped 20.”
Urbanovich was under the gun on the second hand he received and opened the pot. It was folded around to Bonomo in the cut off, who asked Urbanovich how many chips he had. Urbanovich moved his headphone from over his ear and said, “I just buy in.” His renown from Malta had not yet earned him instant recognition, at least from Bonomo, who wasn’t there.
At around this point, news filtered across the room that Esfanidiari had dusted off his stack within the first few hands. The One Drop champion didn’t want to play with anything short of a big stack here, and was out. It was fair to assume that Urbanovich could have thought the same thing — he likes to get involved, and looks pretty strange without a monster stack — but he had at least waited two hands until going nuts.
On hand three, Schemion opened to 15,000 from under the gun and Bonomo called on the button. Urbanovich called from the big blind. The flop came 8♦5♥5♦ and Urbanovich checked. Schemion bet 25,000 and Bonomo called. It put Urbanovich into the tank.
When he emerged it was with a check-raise to 68,000 — yep, in one fell swoop the young Pole check raised the leading player in tournament poker, and the inaugural winner of a Grand Final Super High Roller. And what’s more, he got it through.
It got better. Not long after that, Urbanovich made a call for his tournament life with K♠10♥ on a board of 4♣3♣3♠6♣10♠ when Bonomo shoved the river. Bonomo had A♠6♠ and gave Urbanovich a full double up, taking him beyond 700,000.
If Malta was a flash in the pan — and most serious commentators don’t think it was — then another splash here in Monaco is going to consolidate the arrival of a real new star. Stay tuned for more from the Dzmitry Urbanovich show.
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