As has been the case with so many European Poker Tour events, popular demand at the PokerStars EPT Budapest on October 28th overruled the 500-player cap originally set for the field. With the EPT’s first foray into Hungary at the Las Vegas Casino in Budapest, the players were anxious to take their places at the tables, and room was made for the field that eventually swelled to 532 players.
The start of the €4,350 buy-in tournament was divided into two days, the first of which drew names like Katja Thater, Annette Obrestad, Thomas Bihl, Luca Pagano, Barney Boatman, Dave Colclough, Nicholas Levi, and Marcel Luske to the felt. But when it was all said and done, only 90 remained, with Obrestad as the chip leader with just over 101K in chips. Arnaud Mattern followed in second place with little more than 90K, and the rest of the top ten included Sorel Mizzi and William Fry.
Day 1B brought even more well-known poker players to the field, including Dario Minieri, Max Pescatori, Bertrand Grospellier, Alan Smurfit, Davidi Kitai, Vicky Coren, Kara Scott, Johnny Lodden, William Thorson, Alex Kravchenko, Julian Thew, Fabrice Soulier, and Noah Boeken. There were 92 survivors when play ended for the day, and Mauro Corsetti led the pack with 135K in chips. Pierre Husson held up the second spot on the leaderboard with 71K, followed by Casey Kastle with 1K less. Also in the top ten were Lodden and Kravchenko.
There were 182 players returning to the casino for Day 2 to play eight levels and inch closer to the final table. Some of the first days’ chip leaders took leave of the tournament during that time, including Obrestad and Mattern, and other big names like Pagano, Thorson, and Smurfit joined them on the rail.
It was near the end of the night that the money bubble came into view, and though there were two players at risk during an all-in moment, it was Thomas Vestergaard who took the honors of being the bubble player when his A-K came up against the of Christophe Wemelbeke. The flop was all clubs to erase any notion of a chopped pot, and Vestergaard was sent away without a payday.
With that, the eliminations in the money began as Aditya Agarwal took 56th place for €5,320, and Danny Ryan, Sorel Mizzi, Peter Zamiska, and Kara Scott followed. After the bustout of Symeon Pyrakis in 43rd place, play stopped for the evening with Albert Iversen in the chip lead with 442,500. Martin Jacobson was in second with 365,000, and the rest of the top five were Ciprian Hrisca, Casey Kastle, and William Fry.
Day 3 of the EPT Budapest was set to be a long one but ended up running quicker than anticipated in an effort to reach the final table of eight players. The field thinned quickly, beginning with George McKeever taking €6,834 for a 42nd place finish. The chip leader from Day 1B, Mauro Corsetti was forced to settle for 28th place and €8,512, Russian poker pro Alex Kravchenko was ousted in 23rd place, and Casey Kastle was eliminated in 15th place.
With only ten players left, two of whom would have to go before play ended for the night, it was Sebastian Saffari who was taken out by Gino Alacqua in tenth place for a €32,984 cash. The last nine players were then seated at one table, which was when play slowed tremendously as they sought to find the EPT final table bubble boy. It took approximately an hour and a half before Ivo Donev went into battle with A-K versus the pocket aces of Ciprian Hrisca. All of Donev’s chips went into the pot after the 10-6-7 flop, and though a king came on the turn, the jack on the river eliminated Donev in ninth place for €32,984.
Going to the final table, the eight remaining players were set as follows:
Seat 1: Marino Serenelli (Italy) 357,000
Seat 2: Will Fry (UK) 572,000
Seat 3: Ciprian Hrisca (Romania) 1,038,000
Seat 4: Gino Alacqua (Italy) 466,000
Seat 5: Martin Jacobson (Sweden) 306,000
Seat 6: Albert Iversen (Denmark) 1,017,000
Seat 7: Johnny Lodden (Norway) 500,000
Seat 8: Zoltan Toth (Hungary) 1,059,000
With three players in very close contention for the top spot, though Zoltan Toth was officially the chip leader, the EPT Budapest final table was bound to be an exciting one. And the unpredictability began with the very first hand of the evening, as Ciprian Hrisca took a pot from Toth to grasp the chip lead.
The short stacks then took over the show, beginning with a double-up by Martin Jacobson through Gino Alacqua. Soon after, short-stacked Johnny Lodden was to put his tournament at risk. He began with a raise that was called by Toth and Martin Jacobson, and the trio saw the flop of . Lodden bet again, and after a call from Toth, Jacobson pushed all-in. Lodden called with for the overpair, Toth called with and the flush draw, and Jacobson showed for the straight and flush draws. The two remaining cards came and , giving Jacobson the straight and the chip lead. Toth was crippled, and Lodden was the first to go from the final table in eighth place with €53,200.
Toth took his very short stack of 43,000 all-in from the big blind in the very next hand. Albert Iversen and Alacqua both called and checked the entire board of . Iversen took the pot with , and Zoltan showed a 6-2 before leaving in seventh place, which was worth €78,736.
Alacqua suffered from previous hands and decided to put his last 276,000 into the pot preflop after an initial raise from Hrisca. Iversen got involved with a call, and Hrisca called as well. Upon seeing the on the flop, Iversen bet, and Hrisca check-called. Both players checked the on the turn and the on the river. Iversen then showed pocket aces, Hrisca an A-Q, and Alacqua the . Hrisca won the hand with the straight and took the 1.3 million chip pot and the chip lead, and Alacqua took sixth place with €100,016 to boot.
Hrisca became the first player to jump over the 2 million chip mark, and he held a substantial chip lead over Jacobson in second. Fry and Serenelli were the short stacks, though Fry was able to get out of that position by doubling through Jacobson. Serenelli wasn’t so lucky when he got involved with Fry to see a flop. There was betting, then the on the turn, and more betting with Fry committing all of his remaining chips. Serenelli turned over the for the straight draw, and Fry showed for bottom pair. The river of gave Fry a total of two pairs and the win, while Marino Serenelli was relegated to the rail in fifth place with a €127,680 prize.
Iversen had lost ground, and sitting in short-stack position, he pushed all-in with . Fry, who was slowly and steadily chipping up, called with pocket eights. The board ran out , and Iversen was suddenly out of the tournament in fourth place with €153,216.
Fry led the three-person table and allowed the other players to tangle. Jacobson doubled through Hrisca, then the two shorter stacks battled again. Hrisca limped and Jacobson checked to see the flop come . Both players checked to see the turn of , which prompted a bet from Hrisca and call from Jacobson. The on the river led to Hrisca pushing all-in, and after some consideration, Jacobson called with and two pair. But Hrisca turned over 10[[h]- for the flush and the win. Jacobson was eliminated in third place with a €197,904 cash prize.
The final two players took a break and returned with the following chip counts for heads-up action:
Ciprian Hrisca 3,397,000
William Fry 1,849,000
Fry was ready to gamble and regain his earlier chip lead, though he knew he was up against a strong player with a great deal of the chips. He attempted to double with A-5 against the A-6 of Hrisca, but the board came 10-J-K-J-4, and the two split the pot. While that wasn’t the opportunity Fry sought, he did eventually double up with J-10 versus the pocket sevens of Hrisca with a ten on the flop and jack on the turn.
The double still left Hrisca in the lead, but with two small pots, Fry took a slight lead of just over 350K in chips. That set up the play that would determine the match.
Hrisca made an initial raise to 150K, and Fry reraised it to 650K. Hrisca moved all-in with , and Fry called with . The board ran out , and the jacks held up for the win. Ciprian Hrisca was forced to accept a second place finish and the corresponding €342,608 prize.
William Fry won the PokerStars EPT Hungarian Open in Budapest, which turned out to be his first ever major tournament. For accomplishing the feat, Fry was awarded the EPT trophy, €595,839 first prize, and title of EPT champion.
(Thanks to PokerNews and PokerStars for detailed hand and chip count information from live updates.)