What looked to be a scintillating four man battle for the European Poker Tour Grand Final championship turned into a one man show as Venezuela’s Ivan Freitez stormed the final table to take down the final title of the EPT’s seventh season.
Following a pause for the EPT Awards show on Thursday evening, chip leader Freitez, Torsten Brinkmann, Tamas Lendvai and Andrey Danilyuk came back to the table to settle the business of divvying up the €3.35 million still remaining from the €6.68 million prize pool. From the start, Freitez went on the attack and left the other three players in his wake on the way to the title. Within the first thirty minutes of play, Freitez had expanded his chip stack to well over twelve million while the other men on the felt could only watch the assault.
With an international audience watching on televisions around the globe and the PokerStars.tv crew streaming the action online (with an appropriate two hour delay), Freitez was responsible for the first elimination at the restarted final table. Attempting to make a stand, Danilyuk pushed all in with pocket threes and Freitez was priced in for the call with his A-9. The Russian held the lead through the flop and turn, but an Ace on the river spelled the end of the tournament for Andrey. The Muscovite earned the largest cash of his three year live poker career by finishing fourth for €400,000.
Brinkmann attempted to stem the flow of chips towards Freitez, winning a couple of pots, but it just seemed to be the Venezuelan’s night. Ivan’s chip stack allowed him to take on all comers, such as the hand that sent the EPT Grand Final to heads up play. After a raise from Brinkmann, Lendvai pushed his 2.2 million chips to the center of the table for battle. With a raise and an all in player in front of him, Freitez might have thought about passing, but instead he moved all in over the top of Lendvai. This forced Brinkmann from the hand, leaving Freitez and Lendvai to battle heads up.
Tamas’ pocket nines seemed to be in good shape against the A-9 of Ivan (Torsten tossed a J-8), but the board would have no mercy for the Hungarian. An Ace on the flop was all it took for Freitez to seize the lead, leaving Lendvai drawing to the case nine for any chance of survival. The turn and river blanked, leaving Tamas Lendvai walking from the Casino Gran Madrid with the third place prize of €550,000.
At the start of heads up play, Freitez held an approximately 4:1 chip lead over Brinkmann and Ivan continued the attack. Brinkmann seemed to get frustrated as the heads up play moved along, surprised at the cards that Freitez was receiving and his inability to mount much opposition. After twenty minutes of jousting between each other, the penultimate hand determined the victor.
Freitez opened up the action with a good hand for heads up play, 10-9 of diamonds, but this time Brinkmann found Big Slick in his pocket and made his stand. With such a huge chip disparity, Freitez could safely call and, even if defeated, still have a healthy chip advantage. The Venezuelan made the call and, once the cards were tabled, the flop rolled out nine high to give the lead to Freitez. Brinkmann still had six outs twice (23.7%) to win the hand, but nary an Ace or King showed on the turn or river, giving Ivan Freitez the championship of the EPT Grand Final. With the win, Ivan Freitez made a €1.5 million score, while Brinkmann could console himself with the €900,000 runner up prize.
With the conclusion of the EPT Grand Final, there is still one bit of unfinished business left at the Casino Gran Madrid. The EPT Champion of Champions tournament, featuring fifty winners from the previous seven seasons on the EPT, kicked off today with two Canadians in the mix. 2011 EPT Berlin champion Ben Wilinofsky has already been eliminated from the freeroll tournament, but Mike “Timex” McDonald, the 2008 EPT Dortmund titleholder, has been able to work his way into the Top Five. He follows other EPT champions such as Will Fry, Max Lykov, Vicky Coren and Anton Wigg on the leader board.
The EPT Champion of Champions event will play out through the weekend, with the final four players splitting €100,000 of EPT Season Eight buy ins among each other.
By EARL BURTON