The European Poker Tour’s Grand Final has worked its way down to four players who have the opportunity to walk away with the championship of the final event for Season Seven and the bigger prize of €1.5 million.
At this moment, play has been halted to allow players to attend the European Poker Tour Awards show, hosted this year by Team PokerStars Pro and former World Champion Joseph Hachem. There is another reason for the break; following the awards presentations, the four players remaining in the tournament will return to the baize and the action will feature a “plausibly live” international broadcast, complete with hole cards, on a two-hour delay. Technicians in the EPT arena need the time to set up the broadcast.
When the remaining eight players came to the felt on Thursday, Venezuela’s Ivan Frietez held a commanding chip lead over the other seven players. Frietez’ 5.9 million chip stack dominated one of the two remaining Team PokerStars Pro members, Spain’s Juan Maceiras, by 2.8 million, and the others in the field – Russia’s Andrey Danilyuk, the United States’ Eugene Yanayt and Andrew Li, Germany’s Torsten Brinkmann, Team PokerStars Pro Brazil’s Alex Gomes and Hungary’s Tamas Lendvai – faced a daunting challenge to take the EPT Grand Final championship.
The final table presented a “changing of the guard,” so to speak, as Freitez and Lendvai, at 46 and 39 years old respectively, were the oldest players at the table. All the remaining players are in their mid-20s and have been weaned on the virtual felt before making their migration to live tournament poker. Although it might have been expected that there would be a flurry of activity in the early going due to the younger, internet poker driven nature of the players, the action was quite sedate for some time.
It took nearly an hour for the first elimination to take place. In a battle between the two Americans at the table, Andrew Li made his stand, pushing the remainder of his chips to the center holding pocket threes. After a lengthy pause for consideration, Eugene Yanayt made the call and tabled A-Q, setting off a race with Li’s tournament life on the line. Li held the lead through the 9-9-4-7 flop and turn, but he was counterfeited by a second four on the river and was the first player ushered from the Casino Gran Madrid. For his time and efforts, Andrew Li took home €130,000 for his eighth place finish.
Yanayt continued to apply pressure to the field and was responsible for the elimination of Alex Gomes in seventh place. Holding a suited 8-7 and feeling the pressure from the 50K-100K blinds, Gomes moved his 1.2 million chips to the center from the small blind. Yanayt was more than happy to look up Gomes from the big blind, where he woke up with pocket tens. An uneventful board sewed the hand up for Yanayt as Alex Gomes fell short in his attempt at poker’s Triple Crown (EPT, World Poker Tour and World Series of Poker championships) finishing seventh for €185,000.
The final American on the felt, Yanayt could not continue his momentum any further, however. He doubled up Danilyuk to drop to the second lowest stack at the table and then fell at the hands of Freitez. The duo entered into a pre-flop raising battle, with Yanayt eventually getting all in and called by Freitez. The Venezuelan had the American dominated, with Ivan’s pocket nines in command against Eugene’s pocket fives. Once he had missed his two-outs over the span of the board, Eugene Yanayt was gone from the tournament in sixth place (€250,000).
A few hands later, the final four players were determined with the elimination of the final Team PokerStars Pro from the felt. After a raise from Brinkmann, Juan Maceiras moved all in and was called by the German. Juan’s off suit J-10 was no match for Torsten’s Big Slick and, after the board missed both players, Maceiras was eliminated in fourth place (€315,000).
The remaining four men who will decide the EPT Grand Final championship are now on break, waiting for the call to return to the table and the “plausibly live” broadcast. The tournament, with a two hour delay, will be broadcast on The Score beginning at 5PM this afternoon. When the players return to the felt, the leader board will look like this:
Ivan Freitez – 7,710,000
Torsten Brinkmann – 6,760,000
Tamas Lendvai – 3,690,000
Andrey Danilyuk – 2,460,000
With the blinds at 60K/120K and a 15K ante, Freitez and Brinkmann look to be in command to reach heads up play against each other. Either Lendvai or Danilyuk will have to have some good fortune to climb back into the fray, preferably within the first moments the players get back into action. The final four players in the EPT Grand Final should make for some exciting television when the action begins at 5PM this afternoon on The Score!
By EARL BURTON