The 100th tournament in the history of the European Poker Tour, taking place at the Casino Barcelona in Spain, brought its entire field together for the first time on Saturday. At the end of the day’s festivities, Vojtech Ruzicka utilized his strong Day 1A play to come out on top of the Day 2 field just short of the money bubble.
889 players strolled back into the Casino Barcelona with Jose Lamarca Capa and Michael Mizrachi leading the field. The plan for the day was to play six levels with no dinner break and, accordingly, the players went about attacking each other with a vengeance. Anton Wigg was one of the early casualties, his pocket Kings being coolered by Joe Ebanks’ pocket Aces, but David Vamplew’s departure was crueler than Wigg’s. On an 8? 4? Q? 9? 8? board, Vamplew got his final chips in with A? 5?, only to see his opponent turn up the J? 10? for the straight flush.
Wigg and Vamplew weren’t the only ones to find their way out of the Casino Barcelona much earlier than they had planned. Marvin Rettenmaier, Dan Smith, Eugene Katchalov, Jonathan Little, Roberto Romanello and Thomas Muhlocker all were gone within the first couple of levels of play, but Mizrachi was able to stay amidst the leaders even with the formidable foe of Davidi Kitai on the felt against him. Even after doubling up 2014 November Niner Andoni Larrabe after Larrabe hit a runner-runner straight against his flopped set, Mizrachi was on a stack of 210K as the afternoon wore on.
The big mover of the day was Ruzicka, who started the day in eighth place overall with 155,300 in chips. With little fanfare, Ruzicka more than doubled that stack (347K) as the Day 2 action reached its halfway point and the Czech continued to be a force to be dealt with in the second half of the day. In one of the final hands of the evening, Ruzicka clashed in a hand against Dominik Nitsche that saw Ruzicka’s stack rocket further upward.
On a seemingly innocent 8-6-3-4-9 board, Ruzicka moved all in on the river and Nitsche made the call, tabling pocket Kings. Ruzicka’s day of run good continued as he showed down a 10-7 (flopped gut shot straight draw, turned double gutter, rivered straight) to take the hand and knock the defending WSOP National Champion out of the tournament. With the hand, Ruzicka cracked the 500K mark and steamed through the final few hands, adding chips along the way:
1. Vojtech Ruzicka, 621,000
2. Nima Ahrary, 519,600
3. Martin Finger, 502,300
4. Andrei Konopelko, 446,500
5. Berthold Winz, 443,000
6. Tobias Rohe, 434,500
7. Andres Federico Jeckein, 359,200
8. Oliver Price, 352,400
9. Ramin Hajiyev, 351,700
10. Andre Leattau, 338,000
Bubbling under the Top Ten are such notable pros as Marko Neumann (316,100), Max Pescatori (294,000), Randal Flowers (268,000) and Dimitar Danchev (263,300), while names such as Shannon Shorr (96,900), Yann Dion (88,100), Ole Schemion (82,400), Ismael Bojang (80,100) and Martin Jacobson (72,300) will have to get to work early on Sunday if they are going to make a run at the title.
With 292 players remaining in the tournament, the money bubble is looming. 240 players will take home an official EPT cash to add to their resumes, so we can expect the shorter stacks to try to make a quick “double up or go home” within the first level of play. Once the money bubble bursts, the survivors will then settle in to make the drive towards the championship. When that player is determined on Tuesday, the fortunate individual will not only capture the 100th title on the EPT but walk off with a €1.261 million payday.
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