Win A $1,000 Tournament Ticket To The Event Of Your Choice!

Pieter De Korver Wins 2009 Pokerstars European Poker Tour Grand Final

Season-Five Finale Becomes

by Ryan Lucchesi |  Published: Jul 01, 2009


3 Million Reasons to Set a Record

Pieter de Korver Wins

The poker world descended upon the fabled principality of Monaco in late April for the largest tournament in Europe: the PokerStars European Poker Tour Grand Final. The 2009 edition kicked off with significant momentum after a record-breaking EPT stop in San Remo, Italy, the previous week. That event set the record for the largest tournament field in European poker history, 1,17 8 players.

One year ago, the Grand Final set the record for the largest prize pool in European poker history when €8,420,000 was up for grabs, with €2,020,000 going to the eventual champion, Canadian Glen Chorny. And the season-five EPT Grand Final topped those amounts, as 935 players poured into the Sporting Complex at the Monte Carlo Bay Hotel to create a prize pool of €9,350,000, with €2,300,000 going to the winner.

When converted to U.S. dollars, the top prize was more than $3 million, making this the second event during the EPT’s fifth season that would award at least $3 million to the champion (the first came at the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure in January). This is the first time that any poker tour has awarded that much money to two champions in one year, including the World Series of Poker.

A Long March Down to Eight
With so many players sitting down with 30,000 in chips, a ton of poker was to be played to determine the eventual champion. The best players in the world, such as Phil Ivey, Gus Hansen, and Daniel Negreanu, attracted huge crowds on the rail. European players were out in force, as well, with legends Patrik Antonius, Carlos Mortensen, and Marcel Luske in the mix. The deep starting stacks kept things at a moderate pace to start out, but the hyperaggressive field’s propensity to pin their hopes on large all-in bets preflop kept the bust-outs flying.

The money bubble was reached on day 3, and hand-for-hand play lasted only a few minutes. Luske was the unfortunate bubble boy, and after his elimination, the remaining 88 players would all walk away with at least €20,000. Notable players cashing early included Americans Farzad Bonyadi, Phil Laak, Anthony Venturini, Steve Sung, and J.J. Liu, as well as European professionals Vitaly Lunkin, Dagomir Palovic, EPT Barcelona season-five champion Sebastian Ruthenberg, EPT Dortmund season-five champion Sandra Naujoks, Luca Pagano, and Alexander Kravchenko.

Day 4 saw just 31 players return to play down to the final eight. Coin flips ensued, and it took just over 10 hours to play down to the final table, with “Miami” John Cernuto, George Danzer, Ludovic Lacay, Johannes Strassmann, and Annette Obrestad all just missing out. A trio of young players impressed many on day 4, as American Matt Woodward, Hungarian Peter Traply, and Norwegian Dag Martin Mikkelsen dominated play. Mikkelsen, a 22-year-old pro with nearly $350,000 in live-tournament cashes in two years, went on a rush at the end of the day to take the chip lead to the final table. He doubled up in a huge pot against Marc Naalden when 10 players remained by making a straight on the river to survive and increase his stack to just over 4 million. He then eliminated Naalden in 10th place (€125,000) with pocket kings. On the final hand of the night, Mikkelsen proved that fortune favors the bold when he called down Christopher Rossiter, who had moved all in preflop for 1,475,000 with the AClub Suit QSpade Suit. Mikkelsen flipped over the 8Club Suit 6Club Suit and the board ran out ASpade Suit 8Spade Suit 5Heart Suit 4Heart Suit 7Heart Suit to give Mikkelsen the chip lead and eliminate Rossiter in ninth place (€125,000). The chip counts to start the final table were:

22-11 table count

Final Table, Act I – Mikkelsen Dominates
Action began slowly at the final table, as the players felt each other out and came to terms with the millions that now were at stake. The first skirmish was a major clash between two of the largest stacks. After a series of bets and raises, Traply moved all in for 4.25 million preflop and Woodward got out of the way, leaving a huge decision to Mikkelsen. The young Norwegian went into the tank for a few minutes and decided to call Traply down. Traply turned up A-K, and Mikkelsen turned over pocket queens. The queens held up, and Traply was eliminated in eighth place (€170,000). Mikkelsen increased his leading chip count to 12 million and scored another knockout a dozen hands later when his A-K held up to send Daniel Zink home in seventh place (€250,000). Mikkelsen now held 150 big blinds, and the final table was his to lose.

After the players returned from their first break, Mikhail Tulchinskiy picked off two of the short stacks when he eliminated Alem Shah in sixth place (€350,000) and Eric Qu in fifth place (€470,000). In both cases, the Russian had his opponents dominated preflop, and the best hand held up. Tulchinskiy had close to 8 million in chips after the rush, and just two hours into play, only four contestants remained.

Final Table, Act II – de Korver’s Comeback
Dutchman Pieter de Korver found himself on the short stack among the final four with less than a million. He doubled up twice to reach 3 million, but things looked grim for him once again when he was left with just 365,000 after losing a big hand to Woodward that doubled up the last American standing. Then, de Korver tripled up with a pair of fours to avoid elimination and cling to life once again with just over a million.

He then put his tournament life at risk a fourth time to climb back to 2.32 million. The cheers of his supporters, many of whom had driven 15 hours straight through from Holland to Monaco to support their friend, grew louder with each win. The Dutch became the life of the party, with de Korver leading the charge of excitement. His fifth successful stare into the face of elimination took the Dutchman’s stack close to 4 million. His sixth all in was a race against the pocket tens held by Mikkelsen; de Korver’s ADiamond Suit JHeart Suit found help when the board came AHeart Suit KClub Suit JSpade Suit 4Spade Suit 2Diamond Suit, and he was now second in chips, right behind Mikkelsen, with 7,760,000.

Two hands later, de Korver took a dominant chip lead after one of the most impressive rushes in the history of the EPT. Mikkelsen made a misstep in his frustration, and raised all in when de Korver bet 1.04 million on a board of 7Heart Suit 7Spade Suit 6Diamond Suit 9Diamond Suit; de Korver snap-called with pocket sixes, and Mikkelsen turned over the KDiamond Suit 10Spade Suit. The river was the ASpade Suit, and the former chip leader held just 360,000, while de Korver now held 14,640,000. Mikkelsen was eliminated a short time later in fourth place (€600,000), completing his fall from grace.

During all of the buzz and excitement that surrounded de Korver and his amazing run, Woodward was working on a comeback of his own. After facing elimination early in the day, he doubled up and then chipped up by winning all of the small pots amid the chaos created by de Korver. Woodward ensured himself a fighting chance in the heads-up match by eliminating Tulchinskiy in third place (€800,000) just before the dinner break.

Final Table, Act III – The Grand Final Title Goes Back to Holland
The battle between Woodward and de Korver meant that for the fifth season in a row, the title would be claimed by a North American or Dutch player. The chip counts going into heads-up play were:

Pieter de Korver, Holland, 15,270,000
Matt Woodward, USA, 12,755,000

Woodward quickly closed the gap between the two players during the first couple of hands, and took the lead for a short time before de Korver went on another rush, this time with some ammo at his disposal. A pot of 8.29 million and a board of the ADiamond Suit 7Spade Suit 2Diamond Suit 4Heart Suit 5Club Suit sat on the table when de Korver struck a fatal blow against Woodward. He moved all in for 11,785,000, and Woodward eventually mucked. This gave de Korver more than 20 million, and left Woodward with just over 8 million. “Bluff,” said de Korver after the hand. “You’ll see it on TV.”

The Dutchman kept up his very aggressive pattern of reraises after that, and really began to grind down Woodward’s stack. Woodward decided to take a stand against de Korver after he bet 700,000 on a flop of 10Heart Suit 6Heart Suit 5Heart Suit and the Dutchman raised all in. Woodward thought for a moment, shook his head, and made the all-in call. Woodward held the 6Club Suit 4Heart Suit and de Korver turned up the 9Spade Suit 6Spade Suit. The turn brought the QSpade Suit, and the river was the 7Spade Suit. Woodward was eliminated in second place (€1,300,000) after a solid day of play.

Thus, de Korver had won the 2009 EPT Grand Final title and the largest prize in European poker tournament history, €2,300,000. He is the second Dutch EPT Grand Final champion, joining season-one champ Rob Hollink. Spade Suit

Vanessa Rousso Wins European High-Roller Championship

The €25,000 European High-Roller Championship attracted 79 players at the 2009 PokerStars European Poker Tour Grand Final in Monte Carlo. This field created a prize pool of €1,975,000, with €720,000 going to the winner. The three-day event showcased the top poker players in the world, and at one point during day-one action, three of the top names in poker — Phil Ivey, Gus Hansen, and Daniel Negreanu — were seated at the same table, and they attracted row after row of railbirds.

Vanessa Russo

Only the final eight players would make the money, and the end of day two saw the money bubble burst when the tournament reached the final table. The final table of this event began on the same day as the final table of the Grand Final, leaving fans at odds with which show to watch. Vanessa Rousso came to the final table with the chip lead, and despite a brief period in which her chip count dipped, she eliminated Florian Langmann in fourth place (€188,000) to take 1 million in chips into three-handed action against Tony G and Randy Dorfman.

Lost along the way to that point were high-roller specialist David Steicke in eighth place (€60,000), Andrew Feldman in seventh place (€79,000), William Thorson in sixth place (€99,000), and David Eldar in fifth place (€138,000). With these tough opponents out of the way, a long battle began. Three-handed action turned into a sustained war as Rousso, Dorfman, and Tony G played for hours, with none of them able to gain enough of an edge to eliminate the other two.

With the chip counts about equal, the players decided on a chop that would see €420,000 go to each of the three, with the remaining €150,000 going to the winner. Shortly after the chop, Tony G exited in third place when his A-6 was cracked by the Q-9 of Dorfman when J-J-2-9-8 hit the table. This gave Dorfman a 2.4 million to 1.8 million advantage heading into heads-up play, but Rousso doubled up twice to battle back, and she won the prestigious title with a straight, defeating the kings up of Dorfman. Spade Suit

Introducing …
Pieter de Korver

Pieter de Korver

He might have gotten lucky to win the 2009 European Poker Tour Grand Final title with a run of seven double-ups to come back from being the shortest stack in the event, but success in the poker world is nothing new for 26-year-old Dutchman Pieter de Korver. He quit his job in 2007 to play poker, and in 2008, he won the Poker Champion of Holland television show. That win earned him a spot on Team PokerStars Holland, and he began to play EPT events. He made his first cash on the EPT a big one with the Grand Final win, taking home €2.3 million and the most prestigious title in European poker. He and his supporters from Holland made quite the impression in the process, with lively celebrations at the final table. “I was playing cards and having fun. I was really enjoying myself. It’s so important to enjoy this game. I was smiling every time, even when I lost,” said de Korver when asked about his win.

He brought as much enthusiasm to the final table as the rest of his competitors combined. He celebrated each win as if his life depended on it — and it did. “If I’m not having fun at poker anymore, I will look for something else, but I’m still having fun,” he said. He plans to continue playing poker, but will also invest some of his newfound bankroll in real estate. He also won’t forget the fact that his friends drove 15 hours straight through to Monaco from Holland to cheer him on to victory. He plans to help one of them start a business with his winnings. “I wanted to give them some enjoyment and entertainment. I’m an entertainer. I think they really enjoyed it, and I think the people seeing it on television are really going to enjoy it, too,” said de Korver. Spade Suit