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At a final table stacked with talent, Alex Kulev beat Mikita Badziakouski heads-up to claim the title of EPT Super High Roller champion. In doing so, both men took home over $1.1 million. But there was a lot more to the 37-player event than bragging rights and a ‘Spadie’ trophy.
Any poker event with a buy-in of €100,000 (just over $100,000) in sure to feature only the best of the best. That was certainly the case in Monte Carlo as the principality, famed for its Formula 1 connections and status as a notable tax haven for many of the richest people in the world, played host to the action.
There was a total of 37 entries into the tournament, and some of the best-known poker players in the world sat down to play. All-time money list leader Justin Bonomo was in amongst the action early but couldn’t survive after some damaging pots went the way of his opponents, busting in 10th place. He was joined on the rail much earlier by players of huge repute, such as Canadian Sam Greenwood and Americans Seth Davies, Isaac Haxton and Nick Petrangelo among others.
The money bubble would not burst until the final day of the three-day tournament, and that meant more pain for players who made it to Day 2 or 3 than anyone who bought a ticket early. Stars of the game such as Steve O’Dwyer, Daniel Dvoress and Mike Watson all left on Day 2, but didn’t get as close to the money – and final day – as others. Britain’s most successful tournament poker player in history, Stephen Chidwick, busted in 10th place before German high roller Christoph Vogelsang left in 9th place.
With eight players remaining, Canadian Timothy Adams was the unlucky man who failed to make the final day, but even more painful was Santhosh Suvarna’s demise. The Indian professional made it all the way to Day 3, but lost out in seventh place when Adrian Mateos, who began the last day in last place recovered enough to win a flip with ace-jack against Suvarna’s pocket nines to send the remaining half-dozen players into the money.
In a week where King Charles III will enjoy his coronation in Great Britain, the king of Monte Carlo’s Super High Roller was unable to hold onto his crown. That man was Adrian Mateos, but he wasn’t the first to bust once the money had been reached. That dubious honor fell to the Turkish player Orpen Kisacikoglu who called all-in with ace-queen and lost to Mikita Badziakouski’s ace-king. The Belarussian made a nut flush by the river and that was more than good enough to send Kisacikoglu home with $276,000 in sixth place.
When five players remained, the king lost his crown. Adrian Mateos came into the final day short stacked, but although he recovered initially, crawling off the canvas to eliminate Suvarna in seventh, eventually, he fell on his sword. Getting all of his chips in with king-three offsuit, he lost to Ben Heath’s ace-nine, as a queen-high board did for Mateos, earning him a result worth $354,000.
A new champion would arrive from the final four, but it was not a Russian one. Artur Martirosian chose that moment to call off his stack with ace-eight. It was actually the correct call, but British player Heath’s king-three did what Mateos’ couldn’t do, hitting a king on both flop and turn to mean Martirosian was out of the running, losing out in fourth for a score of $453,000.
It didn’t take long from there for a winner to be found, but the momentum changed dramatically. Having eliminated the previous two players, Heath was hoping for glory, but he ran short then failed to double back into contention. His offsuit queen-nine was all-in and at risk pre-flop, but Alex Kulev’s king-five remained ahead, even hitting a five on the flop to send Heath packing in third for $610,000.
With only two players left, talk turned to a deal, and after computing the ICM payouts, the two men agreed to a near chop, with Badziakouski taking $3,5000 more than Kulev but with around 10 times that difference still on the line. The heads-up encounter was predicted by many there to last seconds thereafter, but despite the comparative pennies they were playing for, the momentum swung both ways in an absorbing contest.
Eventually, a bad beat decided the title, as Kulev’s ace-ten caught a ten on the river to overtake Badziakouski’s ace-jack. That meant the $1,137,000 top prize went to the young Bulgarian star, his first major title coming at an eye-catching time. Improving his status in the top 10 of the all-time money list (now 9th overall), Mikita Badziakouski took home $1,107,400.
Jackpot! You’ve flopped a winning hand! This article has surely added some extra chips to your stack. Tune in for more valuable insights and pro-level strategies!
Looks like you’ve been dealt a bad beat. We’ll shuffle the deck and try again.