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Elder Statesman in San Remo

by Brendan Murray |  Published: Jul 01, 2011


It was the fourth time the European Poker Tour pulled into the quaint city of San Remo along the beautiful Italian Riviera. It just so happens that it was here season seven found its fourth British champion in the form of 24-year-old former economics student Rupert Elder. Elder follows in the footsteps of Toby Lewis, David Vamplew, and Roberto Romanello.
The young British pro took home the top prize of €930,000 plus a gold bracelet from EPT sponsor Shamballa Jewels worth €16,200, a seat in the Grand Final, and also a seat in the Champion of Champions event. The prizes, the money, and the title were well earned however as not only did Elder deny his final opponent, Max Heinzelmann the opportunity to take down his first EPT title, but he also prevented Max Lykov from being the first player to win two EPTs.
Heinzelmann had to settle for second place for the second time in three weeks. The German finished runner-up to Ben Wilinofsky in Berlin previously and adds €600,000 to his winnings for his finish in San Remo. He is the second player to finish second twice this season, and now joins Martin Jacobson in the “ones to watch” category.
The first player on the final table to go was Roberto Spada. Spada could not get anything going despite entering the day third in chips. With nothing going his way, the Italian eventually moved all in for 500,000 with K♦ 3♣ and was called by Lykov who held A♥ 9♦. The board did not bring anything for anyone and Spada hit the rail in eighth place for €81,950.
Costantino Russo was the next player to leave the table. His pocket nines were beaten by Xuan Liu and her A♦ Q♠. An ace came down and Russo left with €125,000 for seventh place. Russo’s departure triggered a string of bust outs and within four minutes the event would lose all remaining Italians. Three hours later after some exciting play between the remaining cast, Elder would be crowned champion.
His rise to the top was helped along by the demise of Massimilano Manigrasso. The Italian four-bet shoved for 2.7 million and Elder insta-called flipping over pocket kings. Manigrasso showed pocket queens but the kings stayed ahead to put him out in sixth place for €170,000. Elder’s stack improved to more than 12 million after this hand.
Francesco de Vivo was the last Italian to get knocked out. An EPT runner-up himself (season six), de Vivo became the third elimination in four hands. Xuan Liu raised all in from the small blind and a short stacked de Vivo made the call from the big blind with Q♠ 9♥. Liu flipped over J♥ 4♦ and the flop brought a magical four. The turn and river didn’t change anything and De Vivo made his exit in fifth place, receiving €220,000 for his efforts.
Liu then picked up speed and after rivering a straight versus Heinzelmann, she found herself second in chips to Elder with a little more than 11 million. Lykov then made a move of his own, shoving all in with pocket sixes for 1.5 million. Heinzelmann called with pocket fours which stayed behind and brought his stack down to 2,280,000. Then it was Heinzelmann’s chance to turn things around and after shoving from the cut-off with Q♦ J♦, Liu made the call with A♣ K♦. The Q♠ turn was the only bit of excitement the board saw and the German doubled up to 4,730,000.
Liu, the first female finalist of this season and the ninth overall, then took on season six EPT Kiev champ Max Lykov. Lykov would become the third finalist the 25-year-old Canadian would bust and in a hand that would result in a dramatic three-way final.
Heinzelmann bet 200,000 from the button and Liu three bet 490,000 from the small blind. Lykov then four-bet 925,000 from the big blind, Heinzelmann moved out of the way and Liu moved all in. A committed Lykov called and flipped over pocket kings. Liu tabled pocket tens and the board at first brought some safe cards for the Russian in the form of 3-2-2. The turn card was horrible for the title-holder however as it was a 10, and the river did not bring any help. The 23-year-old took home €290,000 for fourth place, and the hope for a double winner drifted away with his departure.
Heinzelmann then caught up a bit through Elder, and Elder then chipped up through Liu in a hand which at first looked like it could be going somewhere but ended up damaging the Canadian. Elder opened for 395,000 from the button and Liu three-bet to 645,000 from the big blind. Elder called and the flop fell 10♠ 4♠ 3♦. Liu bet 855,000, Elder raised it up to 1,925,000, Liu pulled the trigger and fired out 4,025,000, but when Elder reraised all in, Liu folded.
She soon found herself in the thick of the action once again, this time versus Heinzelmann. The German min-raised the button and Liu called in the small blind. The flop came down Q♦ J♥ 3♥ and Liu check-called Heinzelmann’s small continuation bet. She also called his 510,000 bet on the A♣ turn and a final bet of just over 2 million on the J♠ river. Heinzelmann’s pocket queens had made a set on the flop and a full house by the river. This left Liu crippled with less than 2 million in chips remaining.
She was finally knocked out at the hands of Elder with A-J versus A-7 respectively when a 7 showed up to put Liu, who has only been concentrating on live tournaments since November, out in third place for €360,000.
Heads-up chip counts:
Rupert Elder 19,000,000
Max Heinzelmann 10,000.000
It took half an hour of back and forths to find San Remo’s hero. Heinzelmann looked like he was making a comeback until he flopped the nut straight versus Elder’s bottom set, and Elder improved to a full house by the river. Heinzelmann took another blow or two before the final hand came.
After Elder opened from the button, Heinzelmann moved all in for 3.2 million, and Elder made the call. The Brit showed A♦ 5♣ while the German revealed Q♦ 5♠. The board fell 7♣ 3♠ 2♣ 10♥ K♠ and Heinzelmann narrowly missed out on a title yet again.
Elder, the last player standing from a total field of 987, said, “I’m very happy to have won, very excited. It hasn’t actually sunk in yet. Max is a great player – he was definitely my toughest opponent at the table.”
The final results and payouts were:
First Rupert Elder
(United Kingdom) €930,000
Second Max Heinzelmann
(Germany) €600,000
Third Xuan Liu
(Canada) €360,000
Fourth Max Lykov
(Russia) €290,000
Fifth Francesco de Vivo
(Italy) €220,000
Sixth Massimiliano
(Italy) €170,000
Seventh Costantino Russo
(Italy) €125,000
Eighth Roberto Spada
(Italy) €81,950