Close to the dinner break during yesterday’s action in the €25,000 High Roller event at EPT Dublin, Mustapha Kanit seemed tired, frustrated and was nursing a short stack. It didn’t suit him. Kanit is the most gregarious of players: he is a shaman around whom all others gather when they are looking for filip in a world of often stone-faced solitude.
But although Kanit was down, crucially he was not out. He hit a couple of cards when he needed them and confided in Chance Kornuth, “I’m playing bad but getting lucky.”
By the end of yesterday, he was runaway chip leader heading to today’s final. And now look at him:
Kanit is the champion of the biggest buy in event of this EPT Dublin festival, winning €501,640 for a dominant victory today. Kanit was back in brilliant form, both with his chips and with his quips.
“I feel like I’m really good at talking and I’m Italian!” he said. “I love to trash talk and feel like I have an edge on talking because I’ve talked more than all the others in my life and, for me, it’s fun and I enjoy my day way more like that.”
He continued: “I really love these EPT trophies, because when I start to play I watched EPTs, so this means so much to me. EPTs mean more than bracelets, this win really is for me.”
Kanit was never out of the lead until he got heads up with the same Kornuth he was confessing to yesterday evening. Kornuth, at his third €25,000 buy in final table of the year (a year that is not yet two months old), had to make do with second and €360,150.
That too is a marvellous achievement. He started with only about 26 big blinds and marshalled a short stack brilliantly. Both these players deserve every penny of that prize money. They prevailed from a scintillating final and an action-packed heads up phase.
Play resumed at 12:30pm with a final table of superstars. So much so that even though Martin Jacobson was eliminated late last night, the absence of a world champion didn’t massively reduce this final’s quality. Here’s how they looked at the start:
Mustapha Kanit (Italy) — 5,460,000
Anton Bertilsson (Sweden) — 3,850,000
Charlie Carrel (United Kingdom) — 2,755,000
Chance Kornuth (United States) — 1,310,000
Ivan Luca (Argentina) — 1,265,000
Jeffrey Rossiter (Australia) — 1,120,000
Keith Johnson (United Kingdom) — 1,150,000
Nick Petrangelo (United States) — 570,000
Two of world poker’s form players — Ivan Luca, from Argentina, and Nick Petrangelo, from the United States — were among this glittering line-up, but their participation in total lasted only three hands today.
The day’s opening shuffle sent pocket jacks to Luca and he made what would have been a standard call after Keith Johnson moved all in for a stack of a little more than 1 million. Johnson was in trouble with A♣J♠ but flopped an ace to leave Luca on the rack.
Kornuth took care of Luca’s shrapnel on the next hand, with Petrangelo, the overnight short stack, successfully laddering up as a result.
It was only one rung, however. Petrangelo got his stack in on the next hand, with A♦J♥. But although he was ahead against Jeff Rossiter’s Q♥8♠, Rossiter hit a queen on the flop to end Petrangelo’s day.
Luca earned €65,170 for eighth and Petrangelo €84,040 for seventh. Small fry compared with the riches both have amassed over the past 12 months, but a decent start to the festival.
It would have been difficult for the rest of the final to keep up with the high-octane opening, but Charlie Carrel certainly tried. He was by far the most active player for the relatively brief period when all were deep.
However Carrel got into trouble when he slow played kings against Kanit and the Italian made a straight. It kept Carrel a little more quiet for a while and let the others carry on their battles.
Johnson had not played a great deal since his early double up and dwindled to be in possession of the tournament’s shortest stack. Noticing that, he Johnson open-shoved for about a million — 12 big blinds — with A♦10♥, which got folds all around. But the next time he got his chips over the line, he never got them back.
Action folded to Anton Bertilsson in the small blind and, with a 3 million stack, he raised. Johnson found A♠5♥ in the big blind and couldn’t fold the ace. It was bad news for Johnson because Bertilsson had 6♠6♦ and this time there was no ace on the board. Johnson was out in sixth.
Rossiter was now the short stack and it got even shorter when he hit a flush with J♥9♥ at the same time that Carrel also had a flush with A♥8♥. There was no getting away from it and Rossiter ended the hand with one big blind.
Kanit picked it up with a couple of hands when he found A♠K♣ and Rossiter committed his “stack” with K♠J♥. No miracles and Rossiter headed out with €137,200 in his pocket.
Four-handed play looked a lot like five-handed (and, for that matter, six, seven and eight handed). Kanit had heaps and the others had to make do with scraps. It didn’t help that Kanit was now making moves too and one audacious bluff in particular, with Q♦9♦ and a blank board, was spectacular. It got Bertilsson off pocket queens.
Bertilsson had a brilliant tournament here — leading at the end of Day 1 and for huge lengths of Day 2 too — but he also had one bad level, which ended his tournament. That bluff cost him a chunk; he then doubled up Kornuth with K♣J♠ against Kornuth’s A♦7♠; and Kornuth eventually took the last of his chips.
The last hand Bertilsson saw was K♦10♦ and Kornuth had A♦6♦. Bertilsson won €176,640, a sizeable spin-up from a €3,000 satellite investment.
Kanit had about 10 million chips more than his two opponents combined when they went three-handed, and when they briefly talked about a deal, Kornuth saw no point as his share would be so meagre.
So they played on — and Kornuth quickly found he had made the right decision. There was a three-way all in very quickly after a break and it could have ended it all. As it was, Kornuth came out smiling broadly.
That hand is worth repeating in full, from our blow-by-blow coverage:
Mustapha Kanit was on the button and raised to 325,000. Here’s the reason: he had K♥K♣. Charlie Carrel, with about 2.75 million shoved from the small blind. He had 5♥5♣. And then Chance Kornuth found A♦9♠ in the big blind and wanted a count. He called too!
Kanit was a 65 percent favourite at this point to end the tournament. And his odds got even better through a flop of Q♣3♥4♥. Carrel loved the 5♦ turn, though, as it gave him a set and seemed likely to triple him up. But then it got even weirder. The 2♣ came on the river!
Kornuth therefore tripled through with his straight. Carrel won the side pot against Kanit, but ended up losing chips, and Kanit lost loads.
Carrel wouldn’t last much longer. He got it in with A♥4♥ but had fallen into Kanit’s trap with J♠J♦. There was no ace for Carrel and he went out in third, taking €234,100. Carrel, however, left an indelible mark on this tournament. He was excellent today.
The heads up battle was always likely to be fun with the tournament’s two most talkative players going mano-a-mano. There was plenty of chit-chat and some explosive hands too–again best relived via our hand-by hand coverage.
Kornuth pulled ahead at one point, but Kanit quickly reined him in again. And then came a big heads up flip to end it all. Kanit shoved with threes; Kornuth called with ace-ten. Nobody hit anything and Kanit was champion.
There are few more popular winners than Mustapha Kanit.
“If I lose, I’m happy for you,” Kornuth said. “But I wouldn’t mind playing a bit longer.” It was not to be.
What a way to start a festival.
€25,000 High Roller
Prize pool: €1,715,000
1 – Mustapha Kanit, Italy, €501,640
2 – Chance Kornuth, United States, €360,150
3 – Charlie Carrel, United Kingdom, €234,100
4 – Anton Bertilsson, Sweden, €176,640
5 – Jeff Rossiter, Australia, €137,200
6 – Keith Johnson, United Kingdom, €106,330
7 – Nick Petrangelo, United States, €84,040
8 – Ivan Luca, Argentina, €65,170
9 – Martin Jacobson, Sweden, €49,730