EPT Cyprus Main Event

Winning over a million dollars, Simon’s victory is by far the biggest of his career and take his live poker earnings from over $200,000 to over $1.2 million. Beating the dogged Italian Andrea Dato heads-up, Simon also overcame players such as Nikita Kuznetsov and Jose Sanchez along the way as he claimed the first seven-figure sum and major title of his poker career.

EPT Cyprus 2023 Main Event Final Table Results:
1stGilles SimonNetherlands$1,042,000
2ndAndrea DatoItaly$652,200
3rdJose Gonzalez SanchezSpain$465,425
4thHalil TasyurekTurkey$358,075
5thYannick SchumacherGermany$275,425
6thNikita KuznetsovRussia$211,850
7thBjorn KozenkaiHungary$162,925
8thVictor YugayUzbekistan$125,350
9thPriit ParmastoEstonia$96,425

Cyprus Numbers Add Up for PokerStars

There is always an element of risk in introducing a new stop on the European Poker Tour. Not only is there a rich tradition of already successful stops that might need to make way but plenty of stops that have been introduced have since gone the way of the sic-bet all-in, such as San Remo, scene of plenty of good memories but no longer on the calendar.

Here, however, in Cyprus, with 1,320 entries, PokerStars look to have a hit on their hands. With 199 players paid, players such as Russian pro Anton Smirnov and British poker star Conor Beresford snuck into the money. The final nine saw both the Estonian Priit Parmasto (9th for $96,425) and Usbekistan’s Victor Yugay (8th for $125,350) bow out before a final table of seven was confirmed.

The remaining players would return the next day, with Simon on 40 big blinds, leading Turkish player Halil Tasyurek by just a single big blind. Short-stacked Italian Andrea Dato (14 big blinds) and Hungarian Bjorn Kozenkai (13 big blinds) both battled to keep their hopes alive, with varying degrees of success.

Kuznetsov Denied Progress by Devilish Dato

The action, as it so often does, got off to a fast start on the final day. At a final table where all nine players at the felt represented a different country of the world, the Hungarian player Bjorn Kozenkai was the first person to lose his seat. All-in with king-ten, he was dominated by Jose Sanchez from Spain with the ace-ten. That held and Kozenkai hit the rail for a score of $162,925 in seventh place.

Russian player Nikita Kuznetsov was the next player to leave, crashing out in sixth place for $211,850. All-in with pocket fours, he might have been hoping for a coinflip with Gilles Simon called him, but the eventual winner was taking no such chances, having called with pocket kings. They held with ease and just as five remained in with a chance of victory and lifting their first-ever EPT trophy.

As Andrea Dato continued to rise high, dealing misery to his opponents as he bounced up the leaderboard, German player Yannick Schumacher was unable to survive. Cashing for $275,425 in fifth, the man who shares a surname with a Formula 1 legend was unable to make the chequered flag in first place. All-in with ace-queen, he was unable to hit against Halil Tasyurek’s pocket jacks, and a jack-high flop led to the elimination of the only German at the final table.

‘Ghilley’ Wins for First Major Title

Four players chased glory, but very soon they were reduced to three. Turkish player Tasyurek lost with ace-queen himself. Andrea Dato had looked unbeatable all afternoon and his king-jack hit a king on the flop to bust Tasyurek, sending the Turkish home with a smile on his face and a career-high score of $358,075.

Sanchez was running short on chips and ran out of luck to bust in third place for $465,425. The Spanish player moved all-in for five million chips with queen-six but couldn’t steal one from Andrea Dato’s king-jack. A queen on the flop looked good for Sanchez, coming as it did in the window but it was joined by a king and nothing else came to give the Spaniard any hope until all was extinguished.

Dato, having come into play, suddenly led, but poker is a fickle mistress and fortune abandoned the Italian just when the title was on the line. After a dinner break that had turned the tables, Simon got that bit of luck he needed when a flop of 8-7-2 saw Dato shove with ace-jack only to be called by Simon with king-eight for top pair. No ace or jack came and the Dutch player was pronounced the champion, as Dato claimed the $652,200 runner-up prize and Simon banked over a million.

Gilles Simon
Gilles Simon lifts the fabled European Poker Tour Main Event trophy in Cyprus.

Images courtesy of Danny Maxwell for PokerStars and the European Poker Tour.

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Paul seaton

Paul Seaton, a poker luminary with over a decade of experience, has reported live from iconic poker events, including the World Series of Poker, European Poker Tour, and World Poker Tour. He's not just a spectator; he's been the Editor of BLUFF Europe Magazine and Head of Media for partypoker. Paul's poker insights have graced publications like PokerNews, 888poker, and PokerStake, where he's interviewed poker legends such as Daniel Negreanu, Erik Seidel, Phil Hellmuth, and The Hendon Mob’s, entire lineup. His exceptional work even earned him a Global Poker Award nomination for Best Written Content. In the poker world, Paul Seaton's expertise is a force to be reckoned with, captivating enthusiasts worldwide.