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

Estonian Poker Comes Of Age

by Rebecca McAdam |  Published: Oct 01, 2010


The European Poker Tour made its first stop of season 7 in Estonian capital Tallinn in August. It was the first time the Tour took place in a Baltic state and it would go on to become the largest poker tournament ever held in the country.

Day 1A saw 89 survivors from an original battlefield of 181. Sitting on top of the chip leader board after the first starting day was German Ali Tekintamgac with 203,200 in chips.

Also on the upper reaches of the chip leader board was EPT serial casher and Team PokerStars Pro player Luca Pagano. At this point, the Italian had made six EPT final tables and had 14 cashes on the Tour in total.

The Netherlands’ Steven van Zadelhoff had also pushed his way towards the upper planes, as had Team PokerStars Pro member, and European circuit regular, Arnaud Mattern.

He didn’t know it yet but Mattern would be the centre of attention for much of the latter stages of the €4,250 buy-in main event.

Ivan DemidovOther day 1A notables who made it through to day 2 were Canadian Scott Montgomery (74,700), friend of PokerStars and legendary EPT qualifier Pierre Neuville (69,000), and Team PokerStars Pro players Ivan Demidov (80,100), Michael Keiner (58,800), and Ville Wahlbeck (68,800) who was making his debut as one of the Team Pro’s latest additions.

Wahlbeck had less than 5,000 in chips at dinner break but succeeded in making a comeback by the end of play. Fortune, however, was not on the side of PokerStars’ other debutant, Vanessa Selbst, as she went out after a torrent of hands that didn’t go her way.

Others who wouldn’t be reappearing on day 2 were Annette Obrestad, Sorel Mizzi, Benjamin Spindler, James Mitchell, and Praz Bansi.

Day 1B saw 238 players show up and take their seats, bringing the total number of players to participate to 420 — the largest number of players ever to play an event in Estonia.

However after nine levels of play, only 120 of them made it through to day 2. This added to day 1A’s 90 survivors meant a total day 2 field of 210.

The record-breaking turnout created a prize pool of €1,596,000 which would see 56 players go home with some form of compensation for their efforts, while the last player standing at the Swissôtel in the capital city would get the €400,000 first prize.

A Serbian man who lives in Germany slashed his way through the field on day 1B. Perica Bukara ensured he was not just day 1B’s chip leader but also the overall chip leader going into day 2 with 210,600 in chips, slightly ahead of day 1A’s leader German Ali Tekintamgac (203,200).

Luca PaganoThe rest of the field was filled with well-known European professionals such as Manuel Bevand (130,200), Marc Naalden (114,600), Steven van Zadelhoff (111,700), Juha Lauttamus (109,000), and Team PokerStars Pro members Luca Pagano (124,900), Arnaud Mattern (103,600), and Ivan Demidov (80,100). Canadian Scott Montgomery was also hanging in there with 74,700.

Some players who hit the rail throughout the day were Team PokerStars Pro players Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier, Dario Minieri, and Matthias de Meulder.

Team PokerStars Sportstar Fatima Moreira De Melo also made her exit, as did PokerStars sponsored player Jens Thorson (William Thorson’s brother).

Card Player Europe columnist Michael Piper didn’t make it either, along with Rasmus Nielsen, Randall Flowers, Kevin MacPhee, Michael Tureniec, Roberto Romanello, and Richard Ashby.

After five levels of day 2, 84 remained. Play was fast-paced and aggressive, and finished just 28 players off the money.

The day saw the rise of Brit Jonathan Weekes. The PokerStars qualifier soared from 145,400 in chips at start of play to a massive 751,900 by bagging and tagging time.

The closest player to Weekes was Swede Johan Storakers with 540,000, followed by Team PokerStars Pro Ivan Demidov with 430,000 in chips.

Other notables still in contention were Manuel Bevand (255,900), Rob Sherwood (183,700), Mark Dalimore (140,000), Javed Abrahams (135,600), and recent World Series bracelet winner Tomer Berda.

Ville WahlbeckThe Team PokerStars Pro members still in the hunt for the €400,000 first prize were Arnaud Mattern (152,700), Vadim Markushevski (97,200), Michael Keiner (52,800), Katja Thater (40,800), and most interestingly, Luca Pagano (263,700).

If Pagano were to make the money it would be a record-breaking 15th cash on the EPT for the Italian.

Some familiar names who hit the rail during day 2 were Team PokerStars Pro players Juan Manuel Pastor, Alexander Kravchenko, and Joep van der Bijgaart.

On day 3 the bubble would be reached when the field was downsized to 56, and a total of five 75-minute levels would be played, or play would stop at 24 players remaining, whichever came first.

Many notable big names busted out including Team PokerStars Pro players Katja Thater, Michael Keiner, and Vadim Markushevski. They couldn’t hang on long enough and made their exits before the money bubble was burst by Yotam Bar-Yosef during level 17. The Israeli and his pocket twos were knocked out by Chady Merhej’s pocket queens, and with this casualty, 56 relieved-looking players remained.

When things wrapped up on day 3, 25 players were left in the hunt for gold, with an exciting leader board shaping the latter stages of the event.

The top 10 in chips going into day 4 were:

First Perica Bukara (Serbia) 1,326,000
Second Konstantin Bilyaver (Russia) 1,240,000
Third Arnaud Mattern (France) 1,155,000
Fourth Jonathan Weekes (UK) 872,000
Fifth Ivan Demidov (Russia) 729,000
Sixth Johan Storakers (Sweden) 656,000
Seventh Carlo Bordogna (Italy) 554,000
Eighth Dmitry Vitkind (Russia) 541,000
Ninth Kevin Stani (Norway) 530,000
Tenth Toni Ojala (Finland) 489,000

Day 1B chip leader Perica Bukara regained his position on the top of the leader board, but could not take his foot off the gas with players like Frenchman Arnaud Mattern hot on his heels in third place. Mattern took down EPT Prague in season 4 and since then has played almost all the Tour’s events in his attempt to become the first double EPT champion.

Some notables who busted in the money were Mark Dalimore €6,350 (55th place), recent WSOP bracelet winner Tomer Berda €6,350 (53rd place), Manuel Bevand €6,700 (46th), Friend of PokerStars Pierre Neuville €6,700 (41st), day 1A’s chip leader Ali Tekintamgac €7,200 (36th), Santiago Terrazas €8,000 (32nd), and Team PokerStars Pro member Luca Pagano €8,000 (26th place) to extend his record to 15 EPT main event cashes.

The two-day €10,000 buy-in High Roller got underway on day 4 of the main event with an abundance of talent taking part such as Team PokerStars pro Dario Minieri, last season’s EPT Grand Final High Roller champion Tobias Reinkemeier, Annette Obrestad, Juha Helppi, Kristoffer Thorsson, and Shaun Deeb to name just a few.

Day 4 of the main event was short but not pain-free as the rail was burdened with 17 more casualties. Some notable bust outs included Team PokerStars pro Ivan Demidov in 22nd place for €10,000, Brit Javed Abrahams in 16th place for €12,000, and Swede Johan Storakers in 15th place for €12,000.

Perica Bukara who finished play on day 3 (and day 1B) as the chip leader had an unfortunate day and went out in 14th place for €14,000, and Finn Toni Ojala hit the rail in 12th place for €18,000.

Arnaud MatternThe final table bubble boy was UK PokerStars qualifier Jonathan Weekes. Weekes was chip leader going into day 3 of the event but fell off to fourth place going into day 4.

He would have been the sole Brit at the final table, but Arnaud Mattern ensured that would not be the case. In Weekes’ final hand, Mattern raised to 115,000 from the small blind and Weekes moved all in for 690,000.

Mattern called quickly and flipped over ASpade Suit QSpade Suit while Weekes revealed AHeart Suit 8Diamond Suit. The flop came down Q[[suit:diamond] JSpade Suit 3Heart Suit putting Mattern in the lead. The turn was the 9Heart Suit meaning Weekes had to hit a 10 to double up, but the river was the 4Spade Suit and Weekes left in ninth place, €25,000 richer.

When the dust settled after a tough day the final table chip counts were:

First Arnaud Mattern (France) 3,720,000
Second Kevin Stani (Norway) 2,586,000
Third Konstantin Bilyauer (Russia) 2,498,000
Fourth Mikko Jaatinen (Finland) 1,166,000
Fifth Steven van Zadelhoff (Netherlands) 805,000
Sixth Bassam Elnajjar (Lebanon) 744,000
Seventh Nicolo Calia (Italy) 637,000
Eighth Dmitry Vitkind (Russia) 502,000

The final payouts were:

1. €400,000
2. €250,000
3. €160,000
4. €120,000
5. €80,000
6. €63,000
7. €47,000
8. €32,000

Early in play at the final table Norwegian Kevin “KevBoyStar” Stani took over the chip lead from Mattern and never looked back. Ultimately he would deny Mattern a record-breaking second win on the Tour.

It was knocking out Dutch notable Steven van Zadelhoff and then Russian Dmitry Vitkind that gave Stani the chip lead with three remaining.

Kevin StaniStani firstly damaged Mattern’s stack with a big, fat bluff. The Norwegian raised to 180,000 from the button and the Frenchman bumped it up to 560,000. Stani called. The flop was dealt KSpade Suit QSpade Suit 4Diamond Suit prompting Mattern to bet 650,000. Stani then raised it to 1.5 million and Mattern let the hand go. Stani revealed 8Heart Suit 7Heart Suit, rubbing salt in Mattern’s wounds.

The hand that finished Mattern off was also of the painful variety. Stani raised to 200,000 from the small blind and Mattern made it 550,000. Stani shoved all in and Mattern insta-called for his tournament life. Stani showed 3Spade Suit 3Club Suit while Mattern flipped over QClub Suit QHeart Suit.

The flop was KDiamond Suit 5Heart Suit 2Heart Suit, and the 3Heart Suit dropped on the turn. Mattern needed another heart or a queen on the river, but it was the 9Club Suit, and with that Mattern’s fate was sealed. The hand gave Stani a 2-1 chip lead over Konstantin Bilyauer going into the heads-up battle.

After a bit of back and forth, Stani then built his chip stack to an almost 10-1 chip lead, and he finally finished off Bilyauer when he raised to 250,000 and Bilyauer called.

The flop was 9Heart Suit 3Club Suit 2Spade Suit and both players checked. The turn fell the 4Spade Suit and Bilyauer bet 375,000. Stani raised it to 875,000 and the Russian called. The river was the 8Diamond Suit and Bilyauer bet out again, this time for 1.2 million (half of his stack).

Stani thought for a moment and then moved all in. Bilyauer made the call with hesitance and then mucked his cards when his opponent revealed 6Spade Suit 5Club Suit for the turned nut straight.

The 22-year-old Russian student received €250,000 for finishing runner-up in his second major live tournament. Along his way he had busted Team PokerStars pros Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier and Ivan Demidov.

The final results and payouts were:

First Kevin Stani (Norway) €400,000
Second Konstantin Bilyauer (Russia) €250,000
Third Arnaud Mattern (France) €160,000
Fourth Dmitry Vitkind (Russia) €120,000
Fifth Mikko Jaatinen (Finland) €80,000
Sixth Steven van Zadelhoff (Netherlands) €63,000
Seventh Nicolo Calia (Italy) €47,000
Eighth Bassam Elnajjar (Lebanon) €32,000

EPT Tallin Final Table After his victory Stani, said, “It feels awesome to win. I’ve been through some tough times which have made it hard to focus, made it hard to play, but I stayed with poker and told myself things are going to get better. I’m glad I did.“

Stani joins Andreas Hoivold and Bjorn-Erik Glenne as only the third Norwegian to win an EPT.

Elsewhere at EPT Tallinn, American Kevin Eyster won the €3,200 Heads-Up event for €41,000. One of the recent additions to Team PokerStars Pro, Vanessa Selbst, finished joint third in this event for €11,400 at her first ever EPT.

Kristijonas Andrulis from Lithuania won the High Roller for €123,495 with Canadian pro Sorel Mizzi finishing second and taking home €74,097. Spade Suit