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Padraig O'Neill Wins Record-Setting European Poker Tour Prague Main Event

34-Year-Old Irish Player Outlasts 1,285 Entries To Earn $1,112,400


The 2023 European Poker Tour Prague €5,300 buy-in no-limit hold’em main event drew a record turnout of 1,285 entries, topping the previous record of 1,267 runners for this event made in 2022. This huge turnout is especially impressive given that this year’s event overlapped with both the World Series of Poker Paradise main event and World Poker Tour World Championship this year.

The huge turnout resulted in a final prize pool worth more than $6.8 million that was paid out among the top 191 finishers. In the end, it was 34-year-old Irish poker player Padraig O’Neill who came away with the title and the top prize of $1,112,400.

Jon KyteO’Neill entered the final day of this event as the shortest stack among the remaining five contenders and had to win a preflop coin flip early on to avoid finishing fifth. Chip leader Jon Kyte, who was his opponent in that hand, had begun the day with 229 big blinds, or more than 17 times as many chips as O’Neill to start. Kyte flopped a king with A-K to leave O’Neill’s pocket fours in rough shape, but a four on the turn put him back in front and he held from there to double out of the short-stacked danger zone.

More than ten hours after cards got in the air, it was eventually O’Neill who dragged the last pot and raised the trophy in victory.

“I was hoping to come fourth or third at best. I didn’t think I’d get heads up,” O’Neill told PokerStars reporters after coming out on top. “This is surreal.”

In addition to the hardware and the money, O’Neill was also awarded 1,920 Card Player Player of the Year points for the win. This was his second final-table finish of the year, having also placed eighth in a €3,000 buy-in held at the 2023 Irish Poker Festival Millions. With 2,034 total points, O’Neill is now sitting within reach of the top 200 in the 2023 POY standings presented by Global Poker.

This event played out from Dec. 11-17 at the Hilton Hotel Prague in the Czech Republic’s capital. Plenty of big names ran deep, including Maria Lampropulos (33rd), 2019 PokerStars NL Hold’em Players Championship winner Ramon Colillas (20th), 2013 EPT Grand Final champion Steve O’Dwyer (19th), poker triple crown winner Niall Farrell (16th), recent WSOP Europe main event champion Max Neugebauer (15th), and Marle Spragg (8th).

Adam Wagner was the first to be knocked out on the final day. He ran A-5 into the pocket tens of a surging O’Neill, who wasn’t too far removed from his key double up through Kyte. The pocket pair remained best through a queen-high runout and Wagner was eliminated in fifth place ($293,393).

Cheng Zhao was the next to fall, with his A-Q suited running into the A-K of Kyte. Neither player connected with the board and Zhao settled for $381,499 as the fourth-place finisher.

O’Neill continued to climb up the chip counts during three-handed action, eventually overtaking the lead. He then extended that advantage when his K-Q held against the 10-9 suite of Umberto Ruggeri in a preflop showdown. The Italian flopped a pair of tens to take the lead, but O’Neill rivered a pair of kings to take the pot. Ruggeri secured $495,979 for his third-place showing.

Heads-up play began with O’Neill holding 31,075,000 to Kyte’s 7,375,000. The final two would go on to battle for several hours. Kyte managed to fight his way back into the lead in time for the dinner break, but O’Neill soon scored a big double with the same top pair and a better kicker after action resumed to move back in front. There was more back-and-forth as the stacks got shallower, but it was O’Neill who held the chip advantage when the final hand of the tournament was dealt.

With blinds of 400,000-800,000 with a big blind ante of 800,000, Kyte called off his last 3,100,000 with 10Club Suit5Heart Suit, only to see that O’Neill had shoved from the button with KSpade Suit10Diamond Suit. The board ran out QSpade Suit9Diamond Suit3Club Suit2Spade Suit9Heart Suit and O’Neill’s high cards played to earn him the title.

Kyte took home a career-high score of $694,440 as the runner-up finisher, growing his lifetime earnings to more than $1.7 million.

Here is a look at the payouts and POY points awarded at the final table:

Place Player Earnings POY Points
1 Padraig O’Neill $1,112,400 1920
2 Jon Kyte $694,440 1600
3 Umberto Ruggeri $495,979 1280
4 Cheng Zhao $381,499 960
5 Adam Wagner $293,393 800
6 Grigorii Rodin $225,720 640
7 Govert Metaal $173,610 480
8 Marle Spragg $133,488 320
9 Vincent Meli $102,600 160

Photo credits: PokerStars / Manuel Kovsca.