The start of the European Poker Tour’s sixth season seemed destined to be an interesting experience right from the start. Initially, the first stop was to be in Moscow, the EPT’s first foray into Russia to capitalize on the designation of poker as a sport in the country with one of poker’s fastest growing populations. However, when the Kremlin decided to reverse its decision on poker and shut down most of the country’s lucrative casinos, the EPT had a decision of its own to make. With Moscow out of the realm of possibility, the next best choice was the Ukraine.
In cooperation with the Ukrainian Ministry of Youth, Family and Sport and the Ukrainian Poker Federation, it was announced that the Kiev Sports Palace would be the home of the EPT’s first stop, which pleased many European players due to the Ukraine’s lighter travel restrictions. So, on the 18th of August, players descended upon Kiev - which was soon discovered to be spelled Kyiv - for the start of the EPT’s sixth season.
The excitement officially began with the first of two starting days and 129 players taking to the felt, after an opening ceremony with Ukrainian music and dancers. After the seven one-hour levels that completed the day, only 93 players survived, and among them were Alex Kravchenko, Nikolay Evdakov, “Miami” John Cernuto, and Arnaud Mattern. The chip leader when it ended, though, was Mihaylo Demidenko, who held a stack of 145,125 chips.
The second starting day found even more players - 167 of them - taking their seats at the tables, which put the grand total of the tournament at 296. While organizers clearly expected a larger crowd by setting the cap at 600, the prize pool still made it to €1,391,200, of which €330,000 would go to the ultimate winner. When play stopped for the day, there were 110 players remaining from the second flight, and included in that number were Katja Thater, Leonardo Fernandez, Ivan Demidov, Shaun Deeb, and Dragan Galic. But when the chips were bagged, it was Viktor Ivanov with the lead and 153,825 in chips.
Day 2 brought the 203 surviving players back to the tables to play five levels. Thater was one of the early casualties, and joining her on the rail were Kravchenko, Demidov, Deeb, Vitaly Lunkin, Cristian Dragomir, and Faraz Jaka. The field was cut in half by the end of the third level of the day, and only 68 remained when the day was done. The man at the top of the leaderboard was Max Lykov with nearly 400K, and Vitaly Tolokonnikov was in second place with 397,900.
The third day of action would consist of the money bubble being burst, and though the intention was to play down to 24 players, the fast play prompted them to stop at 32. Mattern and Cernuto were two of the first to go, as was Demidov’s girlfriend Lika Gerasimova. Hand-for-hand play came soon enough, and two all-ins found one of them resulting in the bubble player leaving in 41st place. Serguei Pomerantsev made the all-in move with , and he was called by Jonas Kronwitter’s pocket jacks. The board came , and Pomerantsev became the tournament’s bubble boy.
Jorg Peisert became the first to cash and received €7,610 for the 40th place finish, and Day 1A chipleader Mihaylo Demidenko ended his run in 37th place. The elimination of Albert Sungatallin in 33rd place ended the day, with Max Lykov maintaining his chip lead with a count of 636,000. Nearby were Vadim Markushevski and Vitaly Tolokonnikov in second and third positions, respectively.
Day 4 started off at a rapid pace, as players quickly took their places on the rail. Artem Litvinov led the pack with his 32nd place finish, and many others followed as they aimed directly for the final table. Play slowed later in the day, especially after Alexey Maslov was sent away in tenth place by Lykov. It then took hours to find the last elimination of the night, and it eventually came when Michael Meyburg pushed his last 316K all-in with pocket sevens. Tolokonnikov was the caller from the big blind with , and the two watched the board run out , and Meyburg became the ninth place finisher, for which he received €23,000.
That left the final eight to retire for the night and return on August 23 to play for the EPT win. The players and their chip counts at the start of the final table were as follows:
|Seat 1: ||Vadim Markushevski ||1,662,000 |
|Seat 2: ||Lucasz Plichta || 731,000 |
|Seat 3: ||Adrian Schaap || 520,000 |
|Seat 4: ||Arthur Simonyan || 531,000 |
|Seat 5: ||Torsten Tent || 264,000 |
|Seat 6: ||Maxim Lykov ||2,597,000 |
|Seat 7: ||Alexander Dovzhenko ||1,590,000 |
|Seat 8: ||Vitaly Tolokonnikov ||1,019,000|
Play began with the two chip leaders tangling, and with one sizable pot, Dovzhenko quickly closed in on the chip leader and within 10K of the lead. But meanwhile, most of the players struggled just to stay alive.
Markushevski got into a raising war with Tolokonnikov and Dovzhenko preflop, and when the latter pushed all-in, Tolokonnikov got out of the way and Markushevski called all-in with pocket kings for 100K less than Dovzhenko, who just happened to have pocket aces. The board was an uneventful that led to Vadim Markushevski being eliminated in eighth place with €30,000 for the effort. Dovzhenko became the chip leader.
Lykov decided to gather some chips and regain his starting position, so when Tent pushed all-in preflop, Lykov called with . Tent had the best hand with , but the flop hit Lykov with . The turn and river ended Torsten Tent’s hopes for a double-up, and he was ousted in seventh place with €45,000.
It was quite some time before another elimination followed, as many of the short stacks took their turns doubling up. Schaap did it through Dovzhenko, Simonyan through Plichta, and Tolokonnikov and Plichta both doubled through Lykov.
Eventually, one of the attempts was not successful. Schaap pushed preflop with , but he met up with Lykov’s pocket tens. The board came down in favor of Lykov with , and Ad Schaap exited in sixth place with €60,000.
Play slowed, this time with few double-ups and quite a bit of folding. Hours and several levels went by, as Simonyan was able to double through Dovzhenko and the rest of the players played more small-ball poker.
Finally, it was Plichta who decided to risk his championship dreams with pocket eights, but Tolokonnikov woke up with pocket queens and called. The dealer gave them a flop of and a bit of excitement, but Plichta’s last out was not the on the turn or the on the river. Lucasz Plichta was eliminated in fifth place with €80,000.
Simonyan continued to struggle as the short stack of the bunch. When that stack dwindled to only 275K, he pushed with . But the powerful Dovzhenko called with pocket tens, and the two watched the board come to end Arthur Simonyan’s tournament in fourth place, for which he received €100,000.
The last three players pushed forward but took a break for dinner. When they returned, Vitaly Tolokonnikov didn’t waste much time getting involved with Lykov. The preflop raising war found Tolokonnikov all-in with pocket sevens, and Lykov was along for the ride with . The dealer slowly gave them , and the turn gave Lykov the pot…and the chip lead. Vitaly Tolokonnikov was relegated to the rail in third place, which was worth a €140,000 payday.
Heads-up play began with the following chip counts:
|Max Lykov ||5,895,000 |
|Alexander Dovzhenko ||3,020,000 |
Dovzhenko came out swinging and took the first pot, though Lykov stayed on the offensive and gave his opponent little chance to gather many chips. The two did get their chips into the middle of the table after the turn for Dovzhenko’s attempt to double up, but it ended with a chop when Dovzhenko’s 8-3 and Lykov’s Q-8 both showed full houses on the 2-2-8-8-J board.
A short time later, the battle resumed. The two went to see a flop, which was checked to get to the on the turn. Dovzhenko bet out, but Lykov check-raised. Dovzhenko came over the top with an all-in move holding , but Lykov immediately called with and the trip fours. The came on the river, which solidified Alexander Dovzhenko’s finish in second place with €220,000 for the effort.
Maxim Lykov of Russia beat the Ukrainian in heads-up action and won the first Season 6 EPT title and trophy, along with a €330,000 prize.