It was the tournament that the poker players in the Alps had been waiting for. Though the ultimate ski resort in Saalbach-Hinterglemm, Austria, provided many extracurricular activities, like skiing and spa treatments, the Alpine Palace Hotel and Card Casino was set up for the main event of the PokerNews Cup Alpine, a €1,500 buy-in no-limit hold’em poker tournament.
The preliminary events had been going on for days, with Mark Vos taking down Event 2 and Tony G and Markus Golser chopping Event 5. And with those types of names ready to grace the felt alongside many others for the main event, it looked to be a successful and exciting tournament.
There were 129 players who bought in to the PokerNews Cup Alpine main event, making for a €172,054 prize pool that would generate a first prize of nearly €50K. Included in that field were Tony G, Mark Vos, John Duthie, Sandra Naujoks, David Saab, Marcel Luske, Liv Boeree, Markus Golser, Noah Boeken, and Erich Kollmann.
Day 1 was filled with action, like the early eliminations of Saab, Boeken, and Tony G, the latter of whom was taken out by Kollmann. Boeree struggled through the day and was in desperation mode near the end of it, before tripling up and then busting out. Duthie also found himself out of the tournament, having taken that risk on the last hand of the evening. In fact, only 33 players remained when the action ceased, and it was Mark Vos with an astounding chip lead. His 213,200 chips kept him far ahead of Marcel Luske in second with 102,800, and the rest of the top five included Franciscus Dekkers, Vladislav Bakalov, and Runnar Lindepuu.
When those 33 players returned for Day 2, they were ready to play toward the money and did so with some expediency. The entire day only took four hours to reach the final table. Action began from the start, and only a short time into the day, when Luske and Lindepuu, two of the chip leaders starting the day, went into a battle that resulted in Luske hitting the rail. Tensions ran higher when the bubble approached. With 16 players in the field at that time, it was Daniel Perfeito who pushed his stack all-in with pocket kings, and Vos called with . The board was for Vos when it came , and Perfeito became the bubble player of the tournament.
The remainder of the players were in the money, and Nicholas Van der Marel was the first to take advantage, cashing for €2,580 in 15th place, and he was followed by Nick Lackovic. As play progressed, Vladislav Bakalov left in 13th place, Stephan Kernig in 12th, and Peter Linkhorst in 11th. Soon after, on the final table bubble, Jasper Wetemans pushed all-in preflop with , but Runnar Lindepuu called with to see the board produce . Wetemans took tenth place and €3,100 for the bubble spot and left the final nine to prepare for the next day’s final table, which was set as follows:
Seat 1: Marc Naalden 251,200
Seat 2: Fedor Los 286,700
Seat 3: Simon Borg 75,800
Seat 4: Salvatore Cundari 116,800
Seat 5: Mark Vos 548,800
Seat 6: Runnar Lindepuu 391,300
Seat 7: Joseph Buhmann 126,300
Seat 8: Jan Hlobil 84,400
Seat 9: Farhad Kia 74,100
Vos came in with an intimidating stack, and the short stacks of Kia, Borg, and Hlobil had some work to do to improve. With the blinds at 2K/4K and a 400 ante, final table action began on Friday, March 27.
No one was ready to go quickly, though Kia did get involved with Vos on the first hand, only to get out after betting on the turn would have led to an all-in commitment. Borg got involved with Los, the latter of whom was exhausted from little sleep and a great deal of partying. Borg doubled through Los to stay alive, and Los subsequently lost a big pot to Lindepuu to become one of the shorter stacks, though he then doubled through Naalden to stay alive.
Kia wasn’t able to make the same kind of comeback, however. He pushed all-in for his last 21K with , and Buhmann called with a dominated . The board brought excitement with to give Buhmann trips and eliminate Farhad Kia in ninth place, which was worth €4,820.
Hlobil was the next to be at risk, all-in preflop with against the pocket eights of Lindepuu. The board came , and the full house gave the pot to Lindepuu, knocking Jan Hlobil out in eighth place with €6,360.
Buhmann was short-stacked and needed to move. He found a good opportunity with , but Cundari woke up with pocket aces to call with. The board came to send Joey Buhmann out of the tournament in seventh place with €8,080.
Vos’ ultra-aggressive style soon led his chip lead to come under fire, and he lost chips to several players - some to Naalden in a big pot, some to Borg in a double-up situation, and more to Naalden. By the dinner break, Vos was sitting on 314K, while Naalden and Los climbed ahead of him and Lindepuu sat with 535K.
The food only made players more aggressive, as more of them went after Vos and sent him down near the 200K mark. Los also took a hit as Cundari doubled through him.
But it was Vos who was the next to go, pushing all-in preflop with pocket eights. Lindepuu was there with and the call to watch the board come out . The rivered straight was good for Lindepuu and eliminated Mark Vos in sixth place, which was worth €10,320.
Cundari struggled to stay alive from the start and looked to double up again when he pushed from the big blind holding . But Naalden called with the superior hand to see the board come . That was all it took to send Salvatore Cundari to the rail in fifth place with €12,900.
The four remaining players were not afraid to mix it up. It was Lindepuu and Naalden who tangled several times, but one of those times led to Naalden doubling through Lindepuu in a monster hand with Naalden’s pocket aces versus the pocket jacks of Lindepuu. Nothing came on the board to change the outcome, and Naalden picked up the 1.3 million-chip pot.
Then it was Simon Borg who needed some help and found it at the hands of Fedor Los. Borg doubled through Los to stay alive, though Borg then went into battle with Naalden. The two saw an expensive flop of , and Borg’s final 2K went in after that with . Naalden was there with , and the on the turn gave him trips. The on the river ended it and sent Borg out in fourth place with €16,340.
Los couldn’t hang on any longer and finally moved all-in with , but none other than Naalden was there holding pocket eights. The board ran out , and the exhausted Fedor Los finished in third place with €19,780.
Heads-up action began with the following counts:
Marc Naalden 1,635,000
Runnar Lindepuu 300,000
The last two players standing fought it out for several hours. It began with a double-up for Lindepuu, but Naalden kept the pressure on. But Lindepuu continued his selective aggression and eventually pulled into the lead. But Naalden came back to even the stacks.
Finally, Lindepuu lost a few and took a deficit to the final hand. Naalden began the action with a preflop raise, but Lindepuu pushed all-in. Naalden called immediately and turned over pocket eights, and Lindepuu had to show his . The dealer slowly gave them , and Lindepuu was forced to accept second place and €29,940 after a solid, strong fight to the end.
Marc Naalden, a Dutch native making his home in Belgium, won the PokerNews Cup Alpine, for which he received a trophy and €46,474 in prize money.
(Thanks to PokerNews for the live updates from which this information was compiled.)