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Buy-In: $7,000 + $414
Prize Pool: $3,542,336
Entrants: 555

EPT Main Event

  • Dec 09, '07 - Dec 14, '07


Updates on Final Day (Dec 14, 07)


EPT Prague: Frenchman scoops €708,600 and first EPT Prague title

EPT Prague winner Arnaud Mattern

There are some players who are gifted with natural talent. Their success come from skill and hard work, traits not always brought to the attention of the poker world eager to find reincarnation of the next big thing. Frenchman Arnaud Mattern though is in the former bracket and tonight he became the first winner of the EPT Prague.

Hailing from Paris but now living in London, the 28 year-old overcame chip deficits, strong competition and a final that last over seven and a half hours to overcome Italian Gino Alacqua and taking the first prize of €708,600 and a seat in the EPT Grand Final in Monte Carlo next spring.

How did it all take shape? He arrived at the final table this afternoon second in chips.

Seat 1 - Juha Lauttamus - Finland - 567k
Seat 2 - Kristian Kjondal - Norway - 740k
Seat 3 - Gino Alacqua - Italy - 660k
Seat 4 - Markus Golser - Austria - 352k
Seat 5 - Mikael Norinder - Sweden -- 1,036,000
Seat 6 - Nedzib Suman - Sweden - 216k
Seat 7 - Dagomir Palovic - Slovakia -- 759k
Seat 8 - Johannes Strassmann - PokerStars player - Germany - 245k
Seat 9 - Arnaud Mattern - France - 980k

The line-up immediately threw up favorites', statistically and among the crowds. Markus Golser has been a popular player on the tour and despite valiant cashes had yet to make it to a final table. Could this be his opporunity to bag a title?

Young Norwegian Kristian Kjondal had the experience of EPT final table, having finished fourth in Monte Carlo last April. He was looking to better that and most people expected him too, particularly as he was armed with a good stack.

Kristian Kjondal

But the first obstacle seemed to be Swedish pro Mikael Norinder, an accomplished player who came fifth in the Master Classics in Amsterdam last month. He began with over a million chips, the only player with seven figures and posed a threat that few expected him to give up easily.

But he did.

First PokerStars player Johannes Strassmann was eliminated in ninth spot for €39,200. One of the two short stacks Johannes made his move with pocket deuces only for Norinder to call with pocket nines. It marked the high water mark for Norinder who swept up Strassmann's chips. In the space of half an hour he went into terminal free fall, from over a million to an eighth place finish sparked by a hand against Kristian Kjondal.

Mikael Norinder

The Swede had raised with Norinder calling and Arnaud re-raising, forcing Kristian to lay down his hand. Then Mikael did something that had everyone asking questions, accidentally putting too many chips in the pot when intending just to call and as he made no verbal declaration it was declared a raise by tournament director Thomas Kremser.

It was a moment that would pay dividends for eventual winner Mattern. He went all-in for another 600k. Still ready to cause more surprise Norinder called, making it a colossal pot worth 1.9 million. Arnaud showed his pocket kings with A-Q for Norinder. He would need an ace to dig himself out of the mess but it didn't come. Arnaud was the new chip leader by a huge margin, whilst Norinder collapsed to 180k. His tournament wouldn't last another five minutes. Kristian Kjondal did the honorable thing, putting Mikael out of his misery.

The tournament went on, Dagomir Palovic going next. The former child star on Slovakian TV moved all-in with Kjondal calling by the narrowest of margins - A-T for the Slovakian, A-J for Kjondal. The difference was almost the same as the previous hand that had cost him dearly, A-Q against A-K. The result was the same this time and Dagomir was out, taking €93,600 with him.

The pace seemed to have picked up now, with thoughts of a quick final on people's minds. Nedzib Suman took his €119,000 for sixth when his A-T was called by Juha Lauttmaas holding pocket sevens. It would be nearly an hour before his exit was followed by Markus Golser who finished in fifth place. It was not to be for the experienced Austrian but his options were growing short. He pushed when the flop brought him a flush draw, Juha called though with a pair of jacks. No clubs came for Markus, out with €151,800.

Markus Golser

With four left the chip stacks looked like this:

Juha Lauttamus - Finland - 1,806,000
Kristian Kjondal - Norway - 1,070,000
Gino Alacqua - Italy - 1,073,000
Arnaud Mattern - France - 1,566,000

Golser's vanquisher would be next in line for dethroning though, another chip leader experiencing a sudden descent into chaos. A simple battle of the blinds resulted in three million chips going to Arnaud after Juha moved all-in. Arnaud found himself to be in the joyous position of calling with aces and the two bullets held. As with Norinder earlier he would be quickly finished off. Gino Alacqua doing the calling this time when Juha pushed, Q-4 against Q-2. The Finn Juha out in fourth place for €182,200

That left three. Arnaud held the lead and was beginning to look unshakeable. But was it as straight forward as that. We'd already seen two chip leaders eliminated before their time. Could it happen a third time?

That thought was raised when Gino took a huge pot against the Frenchman, a bet by Arnaud called by Gino for his tournament life. It proved a good decision. K-J for the Italian, pocket eights for his opponent. The race was ended fast when the king hit the flop. Was history repeating itself?

Kristian Kjondal -- Norway -- 1,651,000
Gino Alacqua -- Italy -- 2,349,000
Arnaud Mattern -- France -- 1,434,000

One of these three would have to go next and the Norwegian Kjondal would shoulder that responsibility. With a flop dealt 3-4-5 Gino made it 200k. Kristian moved all-in and Gino called. As had now become familiar the crowds got to their feet, standing on chairs, hanging off railings and risking health and safety laws to get a better look at the cards as the hit the table. K-6 for Kristian with a straight draw, K-5 for Gino with a made pair of fives. An eight hit the turn, no good for Kristian, but it gave Gino more options with a flush draw. A deuce, six or seven of the non-club kind would work. It didn't come. To cheers of "Go on the devil!" (Alacqua's nickname being 'El Diablo') Kjondal shook hands with the others and made his way off stage with €235,399 for third place.

With a case of cash and the EPT trophy now standing on the table the heads-up battle began. Gino Alacqua on one side of the table, the young Frenchman Arnaud Mattern opposite. It would take over 90 minutes and would hinge on just two hands.

Just two? Well, the reality was that Arnaud chipped away without needing a particularly big hand. He never gave up. In contrast to Gino's flamboyant style Arnaud was the picture of discipline and perseverance. No extra movements, no wasted energy. Heavily outnumbered going into the heads-up, with 1.5m to Gino's 4m, the Frenchman simply refused to lose sight of winning and maintained the concentration he needed to avoid any mistake.The first of those key hands saw the chip lead take a violent swing away from Gino.

Arnaud had moved all-in. Gino, who speaks little English only ever talked to his friends on the rail a few feet away and even then rarely. All his thoughts stayed inside his head, his composure and concentration seemed to depend on this.

Sometimes there are little moments that go overlooked, forgotten in favour of the bigger act of winning. The pitcher nodding at the catcher calling for a fastball in the ninth inning, or the two or three bounces of the basketball before the star player takes a game wining foul shot.

Call me old fashioned but Gino's donation to this list was a simple nod to the dealer, declaring his wish to call Arnaud's all-in. No words, no chips being pushed forward, just a few short nods.

All hell broke loose. The same recklessness on the rail with people rushing forwards to see what they could - perhaps partly responsible for making these memorable times. They wanted to see the Frenchman paid off for nearly 90 minutes of rock face work. They wouldn't be disappointed.

Gino stood to attention, head slightly bowed, his hands clasped in front of him, patiently waiting for a big voice to shout at him. It came in the form of Arnaud's pocket jacks. Gino could only manage A-9 and would need one of the three left in the deck. The flop came 4-K-Q. No sign of the ace. A deuce on the turn, a four on the river. Arnaud's mission was almost complete. The French fans on the rail, and there were many, went delirious.

Fifteen minutes later it was all over. The last hand of EPT Prague was heralded by the whoosh of spectators. Anyone not in the know would have thought the crowds were waiting for a man to emerge from a deep whole carrying the secrets of the universe. Instead they were seeing the last all-in called. A-K for Arnaud, Q-T of diamonds for Gino. The Frenchman was ahead with the hand and ahead with chips. All he needed to do now was dodge a lot of diamonds, queens and tens.

Two of the dreaded diamonds found their way to the flop. 2-6-J, a ray of hope for Gino. King (hearts) on the turn. A deuce (clubs) on the river. It was all over. The cheers drowned out everything else as Arnaud Mattern completed one of the great EPT comebacks to win the inaugural EPT Prague and 706800. And of course, a seat in the EPT Grand Final in Monte Carlo next spring.

Arm aloft, Arnaud Mattern wins the EPT Prague

It marks the end of the first EPT Prague which started with 555 players this week from 36 countries. The starting field went beyond anyone's expectations, making this a success all round.

"For a new event, the Prague EPT has been an outstanding success." Said PokerStars Head of Communications, EMEA, Conrad Brunner. "Europe's top players have put on a real show, and great credit must go to Arnaud Mattern for winning against a top class field. His victory in Prague catapults him to the top of the French EPT leader board."

As for the EPT another new event awaits as the tour makes its first stop beyond the geographical borders of Europe. Staring on 5 January 2008, the Bahamas will be home to the EPT with the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure, one of the most popular tournaments, not to mention destinations, anywhere in the world.

And don't forget, you can read news, features and interviews with the winner of the EPT and more on the EPT live blog. For more details click here.

That's all from Prague. See you in the Caribbean.

This EPT Blog is brought to you by PokerStars, the official sponsor of the European Poker Tour. Win your way into the biggest events Europe has to offer at

EPT Prague: Final table action continues

Arnaud Mattern from Paris, France, wins the EPT Prague and €708,600.

10.52pm -- Gino Alacqua, Italy, eliminated in second place for €407,300.
A big noise, more standing, an all-in called. A-K for Arnaud, Q-Td for Gino. Arnaud is ahead and can win if he avoids lots of diamonds, queens and tens. 2-6-J flop with two diamonds. A lifeline for Gino. A king of hearts on the turn, and a deuce of clubs on the river. Arnaud Mattern is the winner of the EPT Prague.

10.35pm -- Arnaud moves all-in. Gino, not an English speaker, looks at the dealer and nods - one of those small gestures that can ultimately lead to great things. He's called. A whoosh waves over the table as the audience get to their feet. Pocket jacks for Arnaud, A-9 off for Gino who will need an ace. "One time" says someone in the crowd. I'm not sure what this means.

The flop comes 4-K-Q. Gino stands patiently, his hands infront of him like a dignitary just walked into the room. Or perhaps more accurately, like he was about to be punished, hea bent forward slightly. A deuce on the turn, a four on the river. Arnaud had doubled up. The French fans went nuts.

10.30pm -- Arnaud slowly accumulating chips, but it's a slow process. A logn way to go, but the French fans on the rail are growing more vocal.

10.15pm -- Pots are either won pre-flop or go to a showdown on the river, both players checking all the way.

10.10pm -- Gino sits back down at the table, glancing for a moment at teh suitcase of money positioned on teh table. Level 24 is to start with blinds at 30k/60k with a 6k ante.

9.50pm -- A 310k pot develops with a flop of 8-3-T. Gino checked and Arnaud bet 200k. Gino thought about it, making a 'bop' noise with his mouth, before folding. Players are taking a break.

Arnaud Mattern, with El Diablo in the distance

9.45pm -- Gino raises, Arnaud calls and they see a flop of K-9-K. When Arnaud checks Gino makes it 205k which is good for the pot.

9.35pm -- On a flop of 4-2-2 both players check. They do the same on the turn which brings a ten, but when the river brings an ace Gino bets 90k. Arnaud thinks, and calls, and see's Gino show T-4 for two pairs and the pot.

9.25pm -- The case of cash is on the table and alongside that the winner's trophy. Gino now plays each hand with his fingers against his temples, like an actor would hold himself if they were pretending to have a headache.

9.10pm -- Kristian Kjondal, Norway, eliminated in third place for €235,399.
With a flop already on the board of 3-4-5 Gino bets 200k. Kristian moves all in and Gino calls. Once more everyone on the rail is standing on something or someone to get a better view. K-6 for Kristian, K-5 for Gino who is slightly ahead and has Kristian slightly covered. The 8c on the turn gives Gino more outs on a club draw with Kristian needing a 2, 7 or 6 of the non-club kind. It didn't come. Kristian Kjondal to the rail - his best EPT performance so far. "Go the devil" yells a big man from the comfy seats.

8.55pm -- Kristian calls the big blind and Gino checks. The flop is A-Q-8 and Kristian bets out 75k. Gino calls and they both chck the turn and river, Gino taking the pot with king high.

8.50pm -- The crowd are divided - Italians make up the majority of the comfy seats, the French have a small corner alongside them and the Norwegians occupy the cheap seats on the floor.

8.40pm -- Chip counts as play resumes:
Kristian Kjondal -- Norway -- 1,651,000
Gino Alacqua -- Italy -- 2,349
Arnaud Mattern -- France -- 1,434

8.25pm -- Players take a ten minute break.

8.05pm - A Kristian raise, a re-raise from Gino and another pot goes the way of the Italian.

8.00pm -- Gino raises to 120k and Arnaud re-raises, putting him all-in. Gino makes the call, his whole stack of over 1.2 million is in the middle. He shows K-J to the pocket eights of the Frenchman. The king falls nicely on the flop, first card out the deck. He doubles up to around 2.2 million

7.55pm -- Juha Lauttmass, Finland, eliminated in fourth place for €182,200
Juha moves all-in finding Gino prepared to call. It's Q-4 against Q-2 - Gino is ahead, more so when the four hits the flop.

7.45pm - A battle of the blinds kicks off. Arnaud in the small blind makes it 120k and Juha in the big asks 'how much?' Arnaud has 1.4 million behind. Juha goes all in. Arnaud calls fast showing aces. For Juha just pocket nines which are unaided on the flop, turn and river. A pot worth over 3 million goes to Arnaud and leaves Juha close to peril.

7.35pm - Blinds are now 20k/40k with 4k ante.

7.30pm -- Chip counts
Juha Lauttamus - Finland - 1,806,000
Kristian Kjondal - Norway - 1,070,000
Gino Alacqua - Italy - 1,073,000
Arnaud Mattern - France - 1,566,000

This EPT Blog is brought to you by PokerStars, the official sponsor of the European Poker Tour. Win your way into the biggest events Europe has to offer at

EPT Prague: Va benne for El Diablo

7.15pm -- Kristian Kjondal may have something of the wolf, but Gino Alacqua has something far more sinister to him. With four players left Gino sits on one side opposite the dealer, Arnaud, Juha and Kristian sit on the other side, together, led by the dealer. The way they're positioned it looks like it's Gino against the others, or perhaps Gino, in neat suit and tie, is here for an interview, as the leader of a youth group or something.

But that analogy would suggest weakness. And a hand involving Gino involves theatre and style, passion and strength. He may be the new master.

After a Juha bet and a Kristian raise, Gino has the decision. He leans back and his face begins to grow red. His nickname is El Diablo - 'the devil', and it suddenly becomes clear why.

His white shirt covers a big belly which he proudly shoves forward. Then with maximum drama he flings his blood red tie over his left shoulder. Was that a gasp form he crowd? Hands clasped, had he long yellow finger nails it would be like watching Satan himself play cards. He looks over at Kristian, or is it into the soul of Kristian? Unless Kristian has no fear he should fold.

Gino 'El Diablo' Alacqua

Suddenly he sits back upright, shakes the shoulders of his jacket and loosens his collar slightly, dabbing away some sweat from his forehead. He either wants everyone to know that he's warm, or doesn't care that everyone will see that he's warm. But by the way he acts all this is under his control, every move pre-ordained, Gino can take whatever time he needs.

Someone Italian says something and Gino looks over. The thought "don't annoy him" entered my mind but close up he seems friendly. Or is that his first trick?

He mucks. Kristian wins the hand. Gino stands up, friendly now. "Va benne?" someone asks. He makes faces of pain and irritation. Players take a break.

This EPT Blog is brought to you by PokerStars, the official sponsor of the European Poker Tour. Win your way into the biggest events Europe has to offer at

EPT Prague: More final table action

7.00pm -- Juha takes another pot uncontested, edging further and further into the lead.

6.45pm -- Markus Golser, Austria, eliminated in fifth place for €151,800.
Markus Golser's tournament is over. The short stack with five left, he called a pre-flop bet by Juha and moved all-in when the flop came Jc-6s-5c. Juha called showing Q-J to Markus' K-T of clubs. A flush draw and overcard for Markus, top pair for Juha. the turn card nine gave Markus more outs but neither arrived on the river. Juha reaps more chips, Markus out.

6.30pm -- A period of sustained calm. Pots changing hand but no more eliminations.

This EPT Blog is brought to you by PokerStars, the official sponsor of the European Poker Tour. Win your way into the biggest events Europe has to offer at

EPT Prague: No lights, no cameras, but plenty of action

There may not be the cameras adding that touch of glamour to proceedings here but that does allow the final of the EPT Prague to take on a kind of old fashioned feel. Without the restrictions imposed by wires, cables, cameras and people with headphones, the rail is just a few feet from the table, making it a compact and probably cosy place to play.

The stage here in Prague is unique in that a steep bank of chairs overlooks the table, making for a pseudo- stadium backdrop. Even with the seats it's standing room only up there and there's an electric atmosphere each time a player moves all-in, with everyone standing and literally looking down on a player's tournament destiny.
Talking of the players, each has brought their own particular style to the game.

Gino Alacqua, whose name would probably pass as a perfume, wears a slick suit and tie with black hair and beard neatly trimmed. Markus Golser is a step down from that in a more smart-casual mode, a blazer over a shirt, whilst the other three adopt the now traditional 'poker-youth' look. Juha in the hoodie, Arnand in a sports top.

Kristian Kjondal

Then there's Kristian, wandering over to talk to the pack of Norwegians on the rail as a short break starts. He's somewhere in between the two worlds; woollen hat, white-rimmed shades, black open neck shirt with the collar turned up vampire style. He wears a glistening silver cross around his neck, has thick shoulders and a toothy smile. Either the first or last signs of a blonde beard complete the rough look - a few moons away from a complete transformation from wolf back to human.

Five players left.

Tournament update:

Juha Lauttamus - Finland - 1,460,000
Kristian Kjondal - Norway -- 1,200,000
Gino Alacqua - Italy - 763,000
Markus Golser - Austria - 420,000
Arnaud Mattern - France - 1,734,000

This EPT Blog is brought to you by PokerStars, the official sponsor of the European Poker Tour. Win your way into the biggest events Europe has to offer at

EPT Prague: Final table action

6.00pm -- Markus moves all-in but finds no callers. Play stops for a short break.

Nedzib Suman

5.52pm - Nedzib Suman, Sweden, eliminated in sixth place for €119,000
Another rush with a second player out in as many minutes. All in with A-T he was called by Juha with pocket sevens, which stood firm. Juha is on a tear as Nedzib leaves the tournament.

5.50pm - Dagomir Palovic, Slovakia, eliminated in seventh place for €93,600.
The last Slovakian is out. Dagomir was all-in with A-T against Kristian Kjondal's A-J. Dagomir needed one of the three tens but it failed to materialize and with handshakes form players and from the rail, he was out.

5.33pm -- Juha moves in again. This time Dagomir calls. In unison the crowd rises as about to start singing the first hymn. From somewhere I heard "oh shhhh...." which may have been Dagomir who turned over A-Q to Juha's A-K. A king and jack on the flop put Juha ahead, another king on the turn left Dagomir needing a ten. It didn't come and Juha doubled up.

5.32pm -- Juha moves all-in but finds no takers.

5.25pm -- Nedzib is trying to kick start a few hands but gets no takers.

5.15pm -- Following a raise from Nedzib Gino re-raises, making it 210k to play. Nedzib calls the raise to see the flop 7-K-K. It doesn't take long for Gino to announce all-in, leaning his head on his hands in a position you might adopt to shade the sun from your eyes. Is it the lights or Nedzib that he doesn't want to see? Nedzib folds anyway.

Chip counts after the break:
Juha Lauttamus -- Finland -- 222k
Kristian Kjondal -- Norway -- 697k
Gino Alacqua -- Italy -- 634k
Markus Golser -- Austria -- 390k
Nedzib Suman -- Sweden -- 648k
Dagomir Palovic -- Slovakia -- 676k
Arnaud Mattern -- France -- 2,238k

5.00pm -- Play resumes with blinds now at 10k/20k with a 2k ante.

4.45pm -- Players are on a 15 minute break.

4.30pm - Markus Golser bet 50k which Dagomir Palovic re-raised to 150k. Folded back round to Markus, he takes no chances and folds.

4.15pm - Standard pot sharing, with each player taking their time after the incendiary start.

3.50pm - Mikael Norinder, Sweden, eliminated in eighth place for €63,200.
In an incredible turnaround Mikael Norinder moves all-in over a Kjondal raise. He called quickly, turning over A-K. For Mikael J-9. An ace on the turn and the tale of a rapid fire fall from grace is complete. Mikael Norinder out ahead of schedule.

3.45pm -- Kristian Kjondal raised and found Mikael Norinder calling. Frenchman Arnaud Mattern then re-raises which leads to Kristian folding and Mikael to doing something most on the rail are still trying to understand. Mikael mistakingly put too many chips into the pot, intending to call but without making his intentions clear. Tournament director Thomas Kremser ruled that this constituted a minimum raise. Arnaud then went all in for another 600k. Still in the spirit of surprise, Mikael called, making it a pot worth 1.9 million. Kings for Arnaud, A-Q for Mikael. The kings stood leaving Arnaud the new chip leader and incredibly Mikael down to 180k.

3.35pm - Johannes Strassmann, PokerStars player from Germany, eliminated in ninth place for €39,200.
Within minutes of the start PokerStars player Johannes Strassmann moved all-in, called by Mikael Norinder with pocket nines, to his pocket deuces. There's no help for Strassmann, the first player out today.

3.30pm -- Cards are in the air.

This EPT Blog is brought to you by PokerStars, the official sponsor of the European Poker Tour. Win your way into the biggest events Europe has to offer at

EPT Prague: A look at the finalists

Seat 1: Juha Lauttmaas, 22, from Vaasa, Finland - 567,000
Juha only took up poker two years ago and turned pro after six months. He kicked off with online $5 Sit and Goes, within four months was on $100 SNGs, three months later on $500 SNGS and now has turned his attention to the cash games, where he players in $5k and $10k heads-up and short-handed games. He played at EPT Barcelona but went out in 59 th place - "I was pretty much the bubble" he said.

Seat 2: Kristian Kjondal, 21, Oslo, Norway 740,000
In the world of high stakes online poker, Kristian "Kris85" Kjondal is already a huge name and has turned over at least $250k in 2007 alone. In March he came 4 th in the EPT Monte Carlo Grand Final for € 471,180 and at EPT Dublin this season, he came 23rdt for € 10,210. He was nominated Online Player of the Year in the Pokerstars' Scandinavian Poker Awards in January but beaten by his good friend and fellow Norwegian Johnny Lodden. He also came 21 st in the WSOP $10k Pot Limit Omaha event for $25k in July.

Seat 3: Gino El Diablo" Alacqua, 46, Milan, Italy - 660,000
Gino is a relative new-comer to poker after taking the game up 18 months ago. Nevertheless, the Sicilian is already pretty successful and currently ranked 26 th in the Hendon Mob's All Time Italy money list. He won the Campione d'Italia €1k Main Event this summer, was a runner-up in the 2006 Italian Championship, and also achieved a further win and two final tables in side events. His total live tourney winnings now total nearly $130k - not to mention here in Prague. Gino, an antiques dealer, is currently single but hoping to find love in the Czech capital. In Italy he's well-known for his Mephistophelean look, hence his nickname "El Diablo". He mainly plays live (both tournaments and cash) - and also a small amount on online on PokerStars as 'jim29'.

Seat 4: Markus Golser, 34, Salzberg, Austria - 352,000
Markus Golser is one of the best-known players on the European circuit - and also one of the most experienced after 14 years as a pro. When they opened a card room in his home city of Salzberg, Markus was one of the first through the door and has never looked back. In those days, he focused on 3/6 Limit Stud, only taking up Texas Hold'em at the start of the European Poker Tour. He said: "I came 27 th in Season 2 EPT Grand Final, 11th in Season 3 Baden and 14th in Season 3 Grand Final - so my results are getting better and better. But this is my first final table."

Seat 5: Mikael Norinder, 43, Stockholm, Sweden - 1,036,000
Mikael "Micke" Norinder took up playing poker three years ago after one of his four children died and he decided he wanted to spend more time with his family. He still own two clothing & furnishing stores in his home city of Stockholm, Sweden, but now plays poker full-time. This is Mikael's fourth EPT but the first time he has cashed. Last month he came fifth in Amsterdam Master Classics. Most of his winnings come from online tournaments and he considers himself a tourney specialist.

Seat 6: Nedzib Suman, 53, Trelleborg, Sweden - 216,000
Nedzib doesn't speak a word of English, but since arriving at the Prague EPT, he has been happily chatting away to his fellow players in Swedish and somehow assuming they will understand him. Married with three grown-up children, Nedzib has been playing 5-card draw his whole life - taking up Omaha and Texas Hold'em five years ago. In 2006, he won the Malmo Omaha Open and Swedish Omaha Open. This year, he won Omaha in Malmo Open and came sixth in Swedish Open Omaha. He's one of Sweden highest-ranking players.

Seat 7: Dag "Lucky D" Palovic, 32, Bratislava, Slovakia - 759,000
Dag is used to the limelight after a career as child actor on Slovakia TV. Later, he presented his own TV music chart show. He studied law in Vienna, French in Belgium and also an MBA in Prague. He stopped studying after he taking up a directorship at a Bratislava advertising agency. He first played poker when he was 22 - just one evening of five-card draw which he won. Nine years later, he played again in a coffee shop home game - and was hooked from then on. EPT Prague is his biggest win to date. Dag's fiancée, Zuzana, is busy modelling this week in Spain so can't be here to cheer him on - but the couple plan to marry soon and start a family.

Seat 8: Johannes Strassmann, 22, from Bonn, Germany - 245,000
Johannes, a former Starcraft Player, became a professional player in October 2006 - leaving behind his army training to become a reserve officer in order to concentrate on poker. He started with a bankroll of just $500 and has never made a deposit since - learning the game with an online poker school. At first, he focused on 3/6 Limit Hold'em but then switched to Texas Hold'em. He now prefers online cash games, short-handed or heads-up $2k NLHE. He bought in direct to EPT Prague with PokerStars. His best tournament result so far was EPT3 Monte Carlo with 23 rd place for $ 44,253.

Seat 9: Arnaud Mattern , 28, from Paris, France - 980,000
Hailing from Paris but now living in London, Arnaud is the current holder of the French Backgammon Championship title. He won the Gutshot Poker Masters in 2006 for a $51,000 prize. Before turning to poker in 2004, Arnaud's main game was backgammon: in his own words, he "crushed the tournament circuit and cash-games all around the world". The switch to poker has been very successful, both live and online. The Frenchman likes the poker circuit: "it's a good opportunity to do what I love: meeting people, partying, learning new languages and of course playing cards." This is Arnaud's first EPT cash, and he starts the final table second in chips - with already the largest payday of his career.

This EPT Blog is brought to you by PokerStars, the official sponsor of the European Poker Tour. Win your way into the biggest events Europe has to offer at

EPT Prague: First EPT visit to Prague set for great finale

The tables and chairs are in position, the lighting set, the crowds are gathering and taking seats along the bank of comfortable chairs along one side of Congress Hall - the first time we've been able to take advantage of that at an EPT. Everything is in place for a great final.

As we reported earlier this week getting a poker tournament to run smoothly isn't an easy job. A lot of that comes down to the hosts. The entire EPT Prague has been a great experience for all involved, a sentiment shared by Lee Jones...

"This event couldn't have happened without the support of the Casino Atrium at the Prague Hilton. They have provided cashier services, allowing players to exchange (and buy back) their Euros and dollars at very competitive rates. There's one cashier, Martina, who I'm not sure has left the building this entire week. The Casino Atrium has also set up and run the cash games, which have been wildly successful since they opened the first one at about 7:00 PM this past Sunday. In short, the casino here has been a key contributor to the event's success and we're extremely grateful for their support."

It sets us up nicely for the final day. Just nine players remain from the initial 555who arrived in the Czech capital for day 1 on Monday, a final that was cast yesterday when Swede Christer Johansson was eliminated in tenth place. These nine players steered past some quality opposition to get here and now have a shot at a €708,600 winner's cheque - a huge difference between that and €39,200 which the ninth place finisher will receive.

So how does the final table line up at the EPT Prague?

Seat 1 - Juha Lauttamus - Finland - 567k
Seat 2 - Kristian Kjondal - Norway - 740k
Seat 3 - Gino Alacqua - Italy - 660k
Seat 4 - Markus Golser - Austria - 352k
Seat 5 - Mikael Norinder - Sweden -- 1,036,000
Seat 6 - Nedzib Suman - Sweden - 216k
Seat 7 - Dagomir Palovic - Slovakia -- 759k
Seat 8 - Johannes Strassmann - PokerStars player - Germany - 245k
Seat 9 - Arnaud Mattern - France - 980k

Mikael Norinder has the chip lead, the only player with over a million, closely followed by Frenchman Arnaud Mattern. PokerStars player Johannes Strassman is one of the short stacks on 245k whilst nearest-to-local finalist Dagmoir Palovic aims to take the winners haul back with him across the border to Slovakia. Markus Golser has come close, but Kristian Kjondal is the only player of the bunch who has played in an EPT final before.

We're about to find out what difference that will make.

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EPT Prague: Play closes with tomorrow's final table in place

It took just over five hours but our final table is in place, thanks to the departure of EPT stalwart Christer Johansson who fell at the last hurdle and missed the final table by one place. It was a hand against fellow Swede Mikael Norinder that did it, Norinder raising before Christer pushed all-in. Norinder showed A-Q when he called to Christer's pocket queens. But when the ace hit the flop it marked the end of Christer's EPT.

Christer Johansson

So the final table tomorrow looks like this:

Seat 1 - Juha Lauttamus - Finland - 567k
Seat 2 - Kristian Kjondal - Norway - 740k
Seat 3 - Gino Alacqua - Italy - 660k
Seat 4 - Markus Golser - Austria - 352k
Seat 5 - Mikael Norinder - Sweden -- 1,036,000
Seat 6 - Nedzib Suman - Sweden - 216k
Seat 7 - Dagomir Palovic - Slovakia -- 759k
Seat 8 - Johannes Strassmann - PokerStars player - Germany - 245k
Seat 9 - Arnaud Mattern - France - 980k

We'd seen on day two what effect a bad hand could have on the chip lead so no one felt too comfortable going into the day. But to be fair Markus Golser might not have expected so many ups and downs to his passage to the final. First he lost some, then took the chip lead with a massive pot before seemingly spreading his chips evenly between his tablemates.

Marc Karam also suffering for just one bad hand, his chips ultimately fuelling Golser's cross country ramble. The Canadian's consistent play had served him well over the three days but suffered this afternoon in one half hour period, leaving him with too big a mountain to climb.

PokerStars qualifier Anthony Phillips

PokerStars qualifiers also put in some commendable performances. Anthony Philips was the first to exit in 25th place; Canadian Tommy Pavlicek went out in 22nd and Jose Navarro, who at one stage yesterday seemed unstoppable, would go out in 17th place. English qualifier Mike McDonald went out in 14th place whilst German Sebastian Zink would narrowly miss out on the final table, exiting in 11th.

so, going into tomorrow Mikael Norinder holds the chip lead, one of two Swedes in the last nine. Slovakian player Dagomir Palovic is the closest to a local finalist, whilst Markus Golser, making his first final table after various cashes on the tour, will be looking to land his first EPT crown.

Dagomir Palovic

It leaves Congress Hall at the Prague Hilton a little quieter after a day of hectic crowds pushing closer and closer to the tables; a theatre of tense and relieved faces playing out the penultimate day before them. The same crowds and more will no doubt be back tomorrow for the final of the EPT Prague which starts at the later time of 3pm.

For anyone wanting to recap on today's action:

Nothing taken for granted on day three

Adrenaline rush for some, nothing short of the nuts for others

Into the first break

The state of play

Closing in on the final table

German qualifier's classy performance

Don't forget to check out the EPT video blog for news, features and interviews from day 3.

All photos (c) Neil Stoddart

This EPT Blog is brought to you by PokerStars, the official sponsor of the European Poker Tour. Win your way into the biggest events Europe has to offer at

EPT Prague: German qualifier's classy performance

Sebastian Zink may have fallen short of the final table but he didn't fall short of impressing a lot of people this week. The modest 23-year-old from Bochum, Germany (a short distance to the EPT Dortmund) stopped by to chat after his elimination. Cognac in hand ("It makes me feel good") revealed a few more details from his background that he was too modest to admit to in the conversations we'd had before.

Sebastian Zink

Sebastian is another of the Magic: The Gathering brigade who have made the conversion to poker and converted well. "It seems like a good training ground!" he said, adding the success he had playing has served him well at the poker table.

Aside from his €27,800 for 11th place here in Prague Sebastian's owns an impressive record on PokerStars, notably for his second place in the WCOOP this year. It wasn't just the result, which netted him $51,050; it was the classy way in which he waited for his heads-up opponent to restore internet connection, passing on an easy win, before playing to a finish. "It was the right thing to do." His mother would be proud.

Add to that a 5th place in a Super Tuesday event and a 3rd place in a Sunday warm-up and it's not surprise Sebastian took Prague by storm. "See you in Dortmund."

This EPT Blog is brought to you by PokerStars, the official sponsor of the European Poker Tour. Win your way into the biggest events Europe has to offer at
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