The EPT Online $10k High Roller event was undoubtedly one of the toughest final tables you could imagine. Only poker’s elite players were left standing when the tournament resumed, and you immediately got the sense that this would be a display of pure prowess that would intimidate even Sam Grafton over at PokerStars Live.
Matthias “iambest2” Eibinger went into the final table with the chip lead, with Christian “WATnlos” Rudolph not far behind and many of the top live and online from around the world also in serious contention. Here’s how the chip stacks started out on Day 2:
|Matthias “iambest2” Eibinger||Austria||6,704,751|
|Christian “WATnlos” Rudolph||Austria||5,626,653|
|Daniel “SmilleThHero” Smiljkovic||Austria||3,793,541|
|Mikita “fish2013” Badziakouski||Latvia||2,540,686|
|Bert “girafganger7” Stevens||UK||1,729,524|
|Mike “SirWatts” Watson||Canada||1,321,374|
|Timothy “Tim0thee” Adams||Canada||1,197,681|
|Conor “1_conor_b_1” Beresford||UK||596,697|
The action didn’t disappoint, with players three betting light and taking creative lines from the offset. “hello_totti” showed up with particularly tricky plays in those early moments. hello_totti is the only player on the final table who’s identity remains a mystery, but we know that they have a SCOOP title and over $5 million in online winnings. They weren’t going to be pushed around.
It took around five minutes of play before short stack Conor “1_conor_b_1” Beresford was forced to get his chips in the middle. Do or die time. His A♦ J♦ was met with Mike “SirWatts” Watson’s Q♥ 10♣ pre-flop and, after failing to connect with the board, Beresford finished in ninth place for $33,034.
Christian “WATnlos” Rudolph continued to close the gap on chip lead Matthias “iambest2” Eibinger, though Eibinger too started to show strokes of genius, a sign of what was to come as the game progressed.
It looked like Mike “SirWatts” Watson would surely be next out, especially after his Q♠ 10♦ button shove got tactfully called off by EPT legend Timothy “Tim0thee” Adams holding Q♦ J♣. “Domination nation”, as James Hartigan would say. Adams held up, leaving Watson with just a couple of big blinds.
The next hand after his double up, Adams reshoved K♠ Q♠ and lost a flip against Daniel “SmilleTheHero” Smiljkovic’s pocket Jacks, leaving Adams with an eight place finish and $39,498.
Determined not to go down without a fight, Watson started mounting a comeback and gained several double ups. Within 25 minutes, he went from close to bust to a very playable stack and middle of the pack position.
Chip leader Matthias “iambest2” Eibinger found himself on the right end of one of the biggest coolers of the night, getting his A♣ A♠ in against Bert “girafganger7” Stevens’ K♣ K♠ and holding. Stevens was eliminated in seventh for $51,445. Meanwhile, Watson continued to ladder up.
hello_totti was still bringing a lot of the action to the table at this point, doubling up against Christian Rudolph and throwing around some clever bluffs, but big stack Eibinger wasn’t having any of it, shutting down hello_totti and calling his bluffs on a number of occasions.
Eibinger was playing a game that was beautiful to watch, making impressive folds and huge hero calls and maintaining a lot of control. We have to remember, this is a table comprised of some of poker’s top pros. In the words of Sam Grafton, Eibinger was “stomping these guys around!”
After a quality performance throughout, Mike Watson’s time finally came to an end when Eibinger flopped trips against Watson’s K♣ K♥, and made him pay with his whole stack. Watson fell in sixth place for $67,000, a result that he’ll probably be pretty happy with given his comeback from a tiny stack and the additional positions he climbed.
Just as it was looking like Eibinger would pull too far ahead to catch, Mikita “fish2013” Badiakouski started to emerge from the depths, first with a double up and then with unusual and innovative betting lines that left other players scratching their heads.
Generally, the table started to tighten up a bit. With three short stacks, and jumps worth tens of thousands of dollars, there was every reason for this dynamic. It looked like this would continue for some time, but two consecutive hands quickly changed the course of the game.
In the first of these hands, Smiljkovic reshoved all in for 17bb with A♦ J♦ following an under the gun raise. Christian Rudolph called for slightly less with his Q♥ Q♦, and the original raiser folded. Rudolph’s Queens held and Smiljkovic was left with just a fraction of a big blind – before being eliminated the next hand. Smiljkovic added $87,274 to his EPT total with this fifth place finish.
No room for a breather, the very next hand brought another elimination. This time, “hello_totti” faced the music. No doubt, they’d played a creative game throughout, but couldn’t quite pull it back after losing a couple of big pots. Eibinger again was the player to deliver the knockout, this time raising A♠ 7♣ and calling hello_totti’s 3♦ 3♥ reshove. The 7♠ on the turn ended it for hello_totti, who finished fourth for $113,673; the first of the six figure winners on this lucrative final table.
This is the chip count as it stood with three players remaining.
Matthias “iambest2” Eibinger: 17,616
Mikita “fish2013” Badziakouska: 5,598,676
Christian WATnlos” Rudolph: 4,034,734
Here we were. Three of the best players on the planet all sitting at the table of the first ever EPT Online $10k event. It had already been an excellent display of poker, with next-level thinking from all of the players involved.
With three left, it looked like Eibinger, currently sitting on a massive chip lead and having shown dominance throughout, would be able to chip away at the shorter stacks and finish comfortably. But a few minutes after the break, Badziakouska closed the gap again with a couple of significant pots, first finding value with his Aces and then bluffing Eibinger on the turn.
Christian Rudolph had also gained some traction throughout a grindy patch of three-handed skirmishes, before the inevitable moment came. Holding A♣ J♦, Rudolph got his chips in the middle against Eibinger, who had A♠ Q♣. Eibinger hit his flush on the turn to win the pot and end Rudolph’s run in third. Still, $148,057 is not a bad do. And then we were down to two.
Immediately upon Rudolph’s departure from the final table, Eibinger and Badziakouski made an ICM deal. Common enough… then the pair decided to play out the rest of the game, with $10k and an EPT trophy still on the line, all-in blind.
To reiterate… both players (who undoubtedly have a lot of history playing together) agreed via the chat window to push all their chips in the middle (100-160bb stacks), every hand, until the game was over.
This took three hands.
Badziakouski won the crapshoot and locked up first place. The final hand: 4♣ 7♣ versus 2♣ 9♥, with Badziakouski hitting and holding with a pair of 4s.
Correct me if we’re wrong, but this ending could well be an EPT first. Some call it an anti-climax. Others say it was the perfect way to finish to a dramatic game involving evenly matched pros. It’s undoubtedly a bit nonchalant. Whatever your opinion, it’s an unusual end.
Maybe it was for the best? We just witnessed one of the punchiest, most talented final tables you could imagine. Did it really need five hours of heads-up play? Or was it better that it ended with a bang? A pure dice roll between evenly matched players who were up for a bit of a laugh and had already cut a deal. Fitting, in a way.
Congratulations to all players involved in this one, including technical winner and new EPT Online champion Mikita “fish2013” Badziakouski.
Here are the final scores for the EPT Online $10k High Roller:
|Mikita “fish2013” Badziakouski||Latvia||$222,452*|
|Matthias “iambest2” Eibinger||Austria||$221,563*|
|Christian “WATnlos” Rudolph||Austria||$148,057|
|Daniel “SmilleThHero” Smiljkovic||Austria||$87,274|
|Mike “SirWatts” Watson||Canada||$67,006|
|Bert “girafganger7” Stevens||UK||$51,444|
|Timothy “Tim0thee” Adams||Canada||$39,497|
|Conor “1_conor_b_1” Beresford||UK||$33,034|