When David Yan walked into a Hamburg casino a few weeks ago, a few people in the press corps thought he had taken a wrong turn. Yan, one of the world’s best poker players and a regular in High Roller tournaments the world over, had shown up for a €1,000 event on the Eureka Poker Tour. It didn’t seem to fit.
However, it turned out that Yan, who finished 16th in that tournament in Hamburg, was in Germany en route to the World Series circuit event in Berlin. He continued his run of form by winning it. So it was that Yan returned to his High Roller brethren at EPT Malta this week, and his hot streak shows no signs of cooling.
At around 7pm tonight, Yan completed his second triumph in a little less than a month. This one had a buy-in of €25,000 and a first prize of €465,800. When you add second place in another High Roller at EPT Barcelona in August, this has turned out to be a very profitable trip to Europe for the 23-year-old from New Zealand.
Yan beat Ramin Hajiyev to the title tonight in what ended up being a rapid-fire final, done in less than five hours. But it could have swung in many directions, with each of Oleksii Khoroshenin, Max Silver and Hajiyev having the chip lead at various junctures.
However, it was one-way traffic heads up after Yan had taken chunks from Silver, who went out in third, and he managed to overcome a narrow initial deficit to Hajiyev. This is the first time a New Zealander has won a major tournament on the EPT, and few could be surprised that it’s Yan to take the gold.
As you might expect for a tournament with this kind of buy-in, the final table boasted an experienced line-up. None of our final six was exactly a stranger to high stakes and stiff competition. However, even in this esteemed company, Ole Schemion’s name stood out: he has won just about everything there is to win in the high-stakes environment, and was aiming for yet another high roller top prize–another notch on Casanova’s bed post.
But this time, the playboy was given the cold shoulder. He found pocket kings early on, but couldn’t get a call from his shove from Hajiyev. But when he shoved with pocket jacks, Yan was only too happy to give him action with kings. That was the end of Schemion, adding the best part of €100,000 to his coffers.
Throughout its three days of play, this tournament has veered from moments of frenzied action to long slow downs. We had a three-hour bubble period yesterday, followed by three eliminations in less than an hour. That continued at the final too, with two-and-a-half hours passing after Schemion’s departure before the next man went out.
Mikita Badziakouski is also a man in form. He came to Malta on the back of a second-place finish at a One Drop side event in Monaco–a side event with a €100,000 buy-in and a €500,000 runner-up prize. He also had a score to settle in this event in Malta, having bubbled the High Roller here last year.
He looked like suffering the same fate yesterday, before rallying and even taking the chip lead 10-handed. But his roller coaster hit the buffers in fifth today when he couldn’t beat Silver’s J♣10♠ with his A♣K♣. Sometimes the best hand doesn’t hold.
At that stage of the game, Silver was doing a very good job of winning pots with the worst hand, confessing “It’s my lucky day.” But he then got involved in a massive flip with his friend and room-mate Yan that ended up with Yan taking almost all of Silver’s hard-earned chips.
It was jacks against A♣Q♣ and the jacks won. That meant that Silver was left perilously short, and then couldn’t win with Q♦9♦ against Oleksii Khoroshenin’s A♥10♠.
Khoroshenin had been in and out of the chip lead a lot over the past couple of days, but just when he might have hoped to push on to the title, he made a rare mis-step against Hajiyev. Those two had almost the exact same sized chip-count–one big blind in it–when Khoroshenin decided to move all-in with pocket threes.
The problem was that by that point, Hajiyev’s A♠10♣ had hit another ten on the turn and Khoroshenin was toast.
Hajiyev headed into the head-up battle with about 400,000 more chips than Yan. But the man from Azerbaijan could not win a pot. Yan moved into the lead and then won the first time they were all-in, coaxing a massive bluff from Hajiyev and then picking it off brilliantly.
The full details of that hand, and all the blow-by-blow action that led us there, can be read on the live coverage page. There was high drama from start to finish and it’s worth re-living.
“It feels really good,” Yan said. “I’m pretty happy with it. It’s tough to explain, but it feels pretty nice. It’s pretty cool.”
This festival goes from strength to strength and the Main Event has only just begun. Stick with us all week.
EPT13 Malta €25,000 High Roller
Dates: October 21-23, 2016
Prize pool: €1,592,500
|1||David Yan||New Zealand||€465,800|
|4||Max Silver||United Kingdom||€164,030|
|8||Patrick Leonard||United Kingdom||€60,500|