Arnaud Mattern, French backgammon champ and 2005 Gutshot Poker Masters winner picked up his first EPT cash in striking fashion, winning the PokerStars European Poker Tour in Prague. Mattern came from behind when heads-up play began to capture the title from Gino Alacqua in a brief but exciting heads-up match.
Mikael Norinder took the chip lead into the final table, with over a million chips to start the day. Here are the chip stacks as players settled into the final table -
Mikael Norinder: 1,036,000 (Seat 5)
Arnaud Mattern: 980,000 (Seat 9)
Dag Palovic: 759,000 (Seat 7)
Kristian Kjondal: 740,000 (Seat 2)
Gino Alacqua 660,000 (Seat 3)
Juha Lauttamus: 567,000 (Seat 1)
Markus Golser: 352,000 (Seat 4)
Johannes Strassmann: 245,000 (Seat 8)
Nedzib Suman 216,000(Seat 6)
It was no surprise when chip leader Norinder drew first blood, taking out Johannes Strassman when Strassman went all in over the top of Norinder’s preflop raise with . Norinder called quickly with , and when no help came on the board for Strassman, he was eliminated in 9th place good for E39,200.
Then Norinder made a mistake, a mistake that almost certainly cost him several spots in the money, and maybe the championship altogether. Kristian Kjondal raised preflop, Norinder called and Araud Mattern re-raised. After Kjondal folded, Norinder put out chips to call, with no verbal declaration of intent. When the chips were counted down, he had put in more than 150% of the call, which was deemed a binding raise by the tournament director. Norinder had to put out enough for a min-raise, reopening the action. Mattern instantly moved all-in, and Norinder thought for a moment before making the call with . Mattern tabled pocket Kings and Norinder was crippled when no help came on the board.
It was just a few hands later when Norinder got the last of his chips in with and found a caller in Kristian Kjondal with . Kjondal hit an Ace on the turn to send the former chip leader packing in 8th place (E63,200). Dag Palovic busted in 7th when he re-raised Kristian Kjondal all in with and Kjondal called with . No help came for Palovic, and he finished in 7th place for E93,600.
Nedzib Suman lost a coin flip with versus Juha Lauttamus’ pocket sevens to bust in 6th place (E119,000).Lauttamus claimed another victim when he busted Markus Golser in 5th place (E151,800). On a flop of , Golser moved all in with and Lauttamus called with , and when no King or club came on the turn or the river, Golser was eliminated. Lauttamus was next to fall when he pushed all in with a short stack preflop with . Gino Alacqua called with and hit a four on the flop to eliminate Lauttamus in 4th place (E182,200).
Alacqua next busted Kristian Kjondal after about an hour of three-handed play. On a flop of , Kjondal moved all in with for the open-ended straight draw, and Alacqua called with for top pair. No help on the turn or river for Kjondal, and he picked up E235,300 for 3rd place.
Alacqua took more than a 2-1 advantage into heads-up play with Arnaud Mattern, but after an hour of jockeying for position Mattern doubled through Alacqua when his pocket Jacks held up against Alacqua’s . Just a few hands later Mattern raised preflop and Alacqua re-raised all in over the top with . Mattern insta-called with . The flop brought Alacqua a flush draw, coming down , but the turn brought the , so only a diamond on the river would help Alacqua. The on the river wasn’t enough, and Gino Alacqua was eliminated in 2nd place (E407,300).
When the hand was over, the backgammon champ from Paris had logged his first ever cash on the PokerStars.net European Poker Tour, winning the inaugural EPT Prague championship for E708,400.
*Photo courtesy of PokerStars blog*