EPT Grand Finals

The Grand Final of the European Poker Tour is one of the most anticipated poker events of the year, with millions of spectators watching from home (and around a thousand people competing every year for this coveted title). Because the final table of the Grand Final puts some of the best poker players in the world up against one another (and sometimes adds complete unknowns to the mix), the way it plays out is always of interest to poker fans around the world.

PlayFreePoker.org is proud to offer you play-by-play recaps of each season of European Poker Tour Grand Final action.

EPT Finals – Season 1

The final table for the inaugural European Poker Tour Grand Final was truly a match between young, innovative players and older, experienced ones, as the final table consisted of Alexander Stevic, who had won the Barcelona Open 2004 (the first EPT event), and Brandon Schaefer, who had won the event in Deauville and entered the final table as the chip leader, both of whom were relative unknowns at the time of their big wins; Rob Hollink provided the counterpoint to their inexperience, as his years of experience and history of solid wins would lead to him being named European Poker Player of the Year in 2004. Another notable player also seated at the table was England’s Ben Grundy, who to date remains largely unknown, despite having earned over five million dollars playing poker.

As the tournament began, the players and chip amounts were as follows:

Player NameCountrySeat No.Chip Amount
Brandon SchaeferUSA7488500
Romain FerioloFrance1475000
Rob HollinkNetherlands8384000
Kevin SeegerUSA5364500
Abdulaziz AbdulazizFrance3181000
Ben GrundyEngland490500
Mikhail UstinovRussia668500
Alexander StevicSweden257500

Ustinov’s short stack would come to plague him when, on the seventh hand, he went all in with a pair of pocket queens. Alexander Stevic held pocket Jacks, but when a Jack fell during the flop, Ustinov was sent packing, and Stevic, who started the game with the smallest stack, made his position at the table a little more secure. Rob Hollink then made short work of Ben Grundy, whose remaining small stack became part of Hollink’s as the Dutchman eliminated him, putting Grundy in seventh place.

Roman Feriolo, who had the second-largest stack when the game began, started to lose his chips at an alarming rate. Just when it appeared that he would be the next to go, he managed to eliminate Abdulaziz Abdulaziz with pocket eights, leaving him in sixth place. American Kevin Seeger would go all in on pocket eights, but he would find himself forever in fifth place when fellow countryman (and unknown, before the EPT began) Brandon Schaefer, held pocket aces. Feriolo further crumbled, losing most of his stack to Stevic, whose pocket aces substantially weakened the Frenchman; with only a few chips left, Feriolo was soon taken out of the game by Hollink, who claimed his second victim of the game.

Stevic, who was now quite solid, due to doubling his stack multiple times and eliminating two of his opponents, stumbled when he went all-in on an A-Q and Hollink’s pocket kings made an outrageously luck match for the flop, giving him quad kings and all of Stevic’s earnings. The Swede, who started the game with fewer chips than anyone else, had stopped with a remarkable third-place finish.

Schaefer and Hollink went head to head for quite a while before Schaefer moved all in on a 10-10-3 flop and Hollink called immediately. Hollink was holding a 10 for three of a kind, while Schaefer only had a 3, for a single pair. After this hand, Schaefer had only a few chips left, which he bet on a single pair on the next hand; Hollink’s two pair knocked Schaefer out of the game and made him the first ever EPT Grand Final Champion.

Final results:

  1. Rob Hollink – €635,000
  2. Brandon Schaefer – €350,000
  3. Alexander Stevic – €178,000
  4. Romain Feriolo – €139,000
  5. Kevin Seeger – €118,000
  6. Abdulaziz Abdulaziz – €99,500
  7. Ben Grundy – €79,500
  8. Mikhail Ustinov – €59,500

EPT Finals – Season 2

If one could only use one word to describe the Season 2 Grand Final of the European Poker Tour, that word would have to be “action-packed”. Few final tables see quite as many ups and downs and successes and losses that are matters of luck, but Season 2’s final table saw quite a few. The two big name players at the final table in this season were Marcel Luske, the notorious Dutchman whose poker successes are so significant that he has, for some time, been mentoring other players (including future EPT winners) and Ross Boatman, known for years as a driving force in poker and a member of the Hendon Mob. Youth and inexperience were common features at the final table, with American Jeff Williams at only 19 years of age, Aleksander Strandli at 21, and Fraser Dunphy, just several months out of university.

As the tournament began, the players and chip amounts were as follows:

Player NameCountrySeat No.Chip Amount
Thierry CazalsFrance5766650
Aleksander StrandliNorway8633500
Jeff WilliamsUSA3495700
Marcel LüskeNetherlands2486000
Marc KaramCanada1231900
Arshad HussainUK6131600
Fraser DunphyUK7125600
Ross BoatmanUK4119700

Cazals started the gain with a strong chip lead, but his aggressive style of playing caused him many near encounters with elimination throughout the tournament, and the final table was no exception. Seeing heavy action from the other players, Cazals steadily lost his stack throughout the play (starting with a loss of over 100k on the second hand). Williams and Dunphy played as though they had a personal vendetta, with Williams overbidding every time Dunphy made a play, forcing the Brit to fold; when Dunphy grew annoyed, he went all in against Williams and lost his stack, ending up in last place.

Marcel Lüske was a true victim of the luck of how the cards are dealt– when Karam went all-in from the button, Lüske and his pocket eights called. The flop came down to no effect, giving Karam and his J7 no help but when the turn and the river both came up sevens, Lüske stuck his finger in his throat and feigned vomiting in response, a sentiment any other player in his situation would have shared. Lüske finished in seventh place. Boatman, who was flailing most of the day, bluffed against Williams and was bested by Hussain, who held a pair of jacks, leaving Boatman in sixth place.

Williams knocked out his next three opponents personally– first Cazals pushed all in, and Williams, with a much bigger stack, called. The river gave Williams the flush that he needed, and Cazals ended the game in fifth place, while he started Karam’s last hand with pocket nines after stealing the Canadian’s chips on a river bet. The river would once again play into Williams’ good fortune when a 10 on the river gave him the pair that he needed to beat Aleksander Strandli and knock him into a permanent third place.

On the final hand between Hussain and Williams, everything came down to the river for one last time. Hussain held A8, while Williams held A10; Hussain went all in, and the flop gave a five, nine, and seven– nothing useful for either of them. The turn dropped another seven, and Williams was the winner as long as the next card wasn’t an eight or a six… it was a three. Jeff Williams, at 19 years of age, became the youngest EPT winner and the Season 2 Grand Final Champion.

Final results:

  1. Jeff Williams – €900,000
  2. Arshad Hussain – €492,000
  3. Aleksander Strandli – €251,000
  4. Marc Karam – €195,000
  5. Thierry Cazals – €168,000
  6. Ross Boatman – €140,000
  7. Marcel Lüske – €112,000
  8. Fraser Dunphy – €84,000

EPT Finals – Season 3

Season 3 of the European Poker Tour was particularly interesting because experience didn’t seem to be nearly as much of a factor as chip count did. At the end of the Grand Final, the most experienced players, professional Irish player Andy Black and the youngest member of the Hendon Mob, Ram Vaswani, ended up on the bottom of the heap. What sets Season 3 apart from any of the other seasons of the EPT is that the order of chips each player had, from highest to lowest, is identical to the final results of the game, with the exception of fourth and fifth places being swapped. This supports what every poker player fears is true– it doesn’t matter how much skill or experience you have if the new guy at the table has a two million chip lead.

As the tournament began, the players and chip amounts were as follows:

Player NameCountrySeat No.Chip Amount
Gavin GriffinUSA72597000
Mark KaramCanada31742000
Soren KongsgaardDenmark51612000
Josh PragerUSA61593000
Kristian KjondalNorway81203000
Steve JelinekUK2758000
Andy BlackIreland4683000
Ram VaswaniUK1432000

Ram Vaswani hit the table with aggressive plays from the very first hand, where he went all-in but received no takers. With such a significant chip deficit, it was clear that he wanted to get a bigger stack and stabilize his position in the game. Just five hands into the game, Vaswani was once again all-in against Karam, and he would have won or split with a jack, diamond, ten, ace, or four. The cards just weren’t there, and Vaswani was out in eighth place. Andy Black, with the second lowest amount of chips, was the next to go. Black had pocket sevens and was in a good position when the flop came down 883, so he went all-in. Kjondal called him with pocket jacks, and Black was stopped in seventh.

After the break where Jelinek conferred with his girlfriend and learned that he might lose his regular job, he went all in with pocket nines but lost to Karam’s pocket jacks. The €305,270 prize he won in sixth place should have allayed some of his fears about getting by. Prager, who had qualified through one of PokerStars.com’s satellite tournaments, was having a good year and establishing himself in the poker world, but when he went all-in with pocket sevens against Kongsgaard’s pocket tens, his upward rise was paused as he settled into fifth place.

The game didn’t slow down for even a moment; Griffin started gunning for Kongsgaard, who lost a healthy number of chips, but it was Kjondal who would suffer from Griffin’s drive. Griffin held pocket fours on a 6-9-4 river, while the Norwegian held 8-9, when Kjondal went all-in. The turn was a five, giving him a change at a straight, but when the river showed a king, Kjondal was shut out in fourth, and Griffin went back to tormenting Kongsgaard. After seeing his stack picked away at by Griffin, Kongsgaard moved all-in in a bluff, trying to capture 200,000 of Griffin’s chips. Griffin saw through the bluff, and the Dane was out in third place.

Karam and Griffin played a vicious game of cat and mouse for a few hours, until Griffin made a 150,000 raise on a hand pre-flop and Karam upped the ante to 400,000, which Griffin met. After the flop showed 3-2-4, Karam made bet of a half million, and Griffin upped it to two million. The room grew quiet and, after a moment, Karam went all-in. Griffin took a couple minutes to think about it and called, showing K-5 to Marc’s 4-7. The turn was another 3, but the river came down a king, making Gavin Griffin the Season 3 EPT Grand Final Champion.

Final results:

  1. Gavin Griffin – €1,825,010
  2. Marc Karam – €1,061,820
  3. Soren Kongsgaard – €610,550
  4. Kristian Kjondal – €471,180
  5. Joshua Prager – €391,550
  6. Steve Jelinek – €305,270
  7. Andy Black – €238,910
  8. Ram Vaswani – €159,270

EPT Finals – Season 4

The fourth season of the European Poker Tour saw some excellent poker talent collected together for a final table that could have been anyone’s game (but ultimately went to American university student Glen Chorny in a finish that no one would have anticipated). Isaac Baron of the USA was the favourite to win the competition and was widely regarded as the best player in the Season 4 final table, while Antonio Esfandiari was hoping to win the Grand Final and score a hat trick, having already won a bracelet at the World Series of Poker and a title at the World Poker Tour. Italian Luca Pagano also came out to play, by this time already a household name around the EPT due to his constant, steady finishes (but no big wins).

As the tournament began, the players and chip amounts were as follows:

Player NameCountrySeat No.Chip Amount
Glen ChornyUSA73613000
Isaac BaronUSA82853000
Valeriy IlikyanRussia41396000
Michael MartinUSA21320000
Maxime VillemureCanada61206000
Denes KaloHungary11190000
Luca PaganoItaly3688000
Antonio EsfandiariUSA5501000

Pagano, never afraid to get his hands dirty and play the game, was the one who initiated a great deal of the action early in the game. After doubling his stack through play with Baron, Pagano watched Esfandiari go all-in (with A8) and hesitated for the briefest of moments before calling with AJ. The flop that followed was every poker player’s dream– QTK, giving Pagano an Ace-high straight and leaving Esfandiari in eighth place.

Michael Martin raised several hands later and was met by Ilikyan, who went all-in. Unphased, Martin called his AQ to Ilikyan’s A4. The flop brought Martin two pair, and the turn and river failed to help the Russian, who left the game in seventh place.

By the time the next elimination came around, Luca Pagano, who had many money finishes and several final tables at the EPT but lacked a victory, was the chip leader. After losing over a million chips to Villemure, Pagano’s luck changed. Shortly after the dinner break, he went all-in against Kalo’s pocket queens, praying for an ace to come in the turn or river; it didn’t come, and Pagano left in sixth place. Only fifteen minutes later, Michael Martin went all-in with QT against Chorny’s pocket Jacks, and an unfortunate turn and river shut him out of the game in fifth.

The next elimination would not be so quick. Several hours later, when there was no clear chip leader anymore, Baron would face Chorny, who led for 335k euro, and Chorny would eventually call the clock when Baron ruminated for too long, pushing the other American into an all-in bet, where he would lost everything to Chorny’s pocket aces. Baron finished in fourth place, while Villemure, who was suffering from illness and lack of sleep from five days of game play, would be the next man out. Villemure had a straight and logically went all-in, but it was no match for Chorny’s Broadway. The Canadian stopped in third.

Not even a minute after Villemure’s elimination, the game was over. Kalo, who had a tenth of the chips that Chorny had, seized an opportunity and went all-in on KQ. Chorny called with A5, giving him two pair, aces over sixes, which bested the Hungarian’s two pair, queens over sixes. Glen Chorny had just become the Grand Final Champion of EPT Season 4.

Final results:

  1. Glen Chorny – €2,020,000
  2. Denes Kalo – €1,179,000
  3. Maxime Villemure – €715,000
  4. Isaac Baron – €589,000
  5. Michael Martin – €421,000
  6. Luca Pagano – €337,000
  7. Valeriy Ilikyan – €253,000
  8. Antonio Esfandiari – €168,000

EPT Finals – Season 5

What set Season 5 apart from the other Grand Finals of the European Poker Tour is the status of many of the players as relative unknowns in the poker world, each with only a handful of wins to their name before the final event of the fifth season put them all on the map. Dag Martin Mikkelsen, the most experienced of the group and the chip leader by a considerable amount at the start of the game, would do a great deal to pave the way for Pieter de Korver’s eventual victory.

As the tournament began, the players and chip amounts were as follows:

Player NameCountrySeat No.Chip Amount
Dag Martin MikkelsenNorway87315000
Martin WoodwardUSA74560000
Peter TraplyHungary14365000
Mikhail TulchinskiyRussia23220000
Eric QuFrance32880000
Pieter De KorverNetherlands42500000
Daniel ZinkGermany61865000
Alem ShahGermany51490000

Mikkelsen hit the ground running the Grand Final of Season 5 with aggressive plays that first took out Peter Traply and then hit Daniel Zink hard, leaving them in eighth and seventh places, respectively. The Norwegian now had an 11 million chip lead, and looked certain to be the winner of the 2009 event. However, Tulchinskiy took over control of the table and eliminated the next two players one hand after another.

When Tulchinskiy open-raised on a hand, Shah went all in, and the Russian called. Shah held AT, while Tulchinskiy had AK. The board presented nothing that helped either of them any further, and Shah left in sixth. As the Russian open-raised again on the next hand, Qu went all-in, and Tulchinskiy called again. His AQ looked better than Qu’s KQ. The flop was useless to both of them, but when a king dropped on the turn, it looked like Qu would double-up; an ace on the river meant that Qu exited the game in fifth place. With 7.81 million in chips, Tulchinskiy had strengthened his position, but Mikkelsen now had over 15 million chips– twice the amount the Russian had and almost four times that of anyone else (de Korver had less than a million chips at this point in the game).

After being knocked down to under 400,000, de Korver made a legendary comeback. He tripled up on Woodward and Mikkelsen, then doubled up via Mikkelsen three times over the course of ten hands. Mikkelsen couldn’t seem to recover, and when he went all-in against both Tulchinskiy and de Korver, the board fell T-4-9-Q-4, giving de Korver two pair, queens over nines, a far better hand than either of the others, and Mikkelsen left in fourth place. Not long thereafter, Woodward made a raise that Tulchinskiy upped to 1.2 million, and Woodward moved all in. Tulchinskiy hesitated but called, his QT ultimately not enough to beat Woodward’s pocket threes, and he finished the game in third.

The two remaining players would play for 45 hands after returning from dinner, with de Korver slowly strengthening his chip lead over Woodward. On the final hand, the flop came down 5-T-6, all hearts, and de Korver went all-in with 9s6s. Woodward thought for a while and called with 6c4h, relying on the small flush draw to help him win. It didn’t come, and de Korver was the Season 5 EPT Grand Final Champion.

Final results:

  1. Pieter de Korver – €2,300,000
  2. Matthew Woodward – €1,300,000
  3. Mikhail Tulchinskiy – €800,000
  4. Dag Martin Mikkelsen – €600,000
  5. Eric Qu – €470,000
  6. Alem Shah – €350,000
  7. Daniel Zink – €250,000
  8. Peter Traply – €170,000

EPT Finals – Season 6

Season 6 of the European Poker Tour had an outcome that was completely reasonable and could easily be anticipated, as the winner held three times as many chips as anyone else (and almost 10 times as much as the two players with the fewest chips. To Nicolas Chouity, all the other players looked like short stacks waiting to be picked off, and he had the luxury of waiting for hands to play when he knew that he could take out his opponents. In the end, Chouity took out six of his seven opponents personally, becoming the first Lebanese player to win an EPT title– and he was an unknown at the time.

As the tournament began, the players and chip amounts were as follows:

Player NameCountrySeat No.Chip Amount
Nicolas ChouityLebanon10130000
Mesbah GuerfiFrance3670000
Andrew ChenCanada3350000
Dominykas KarmazinasLithuania2285000
Aleh PlauskiBelarus1695000
Herve CostaFrance1590000
Josef KlingerAustria1170000
Roger HairabedianFrance1130000

All of the players were very cautious at the beginning of the final table, likely due to Chouity’s big stacks; no one wanted to be wiped out, and Chouity didn’t want to afford anyone the opportunity to double up. When Mesbah Guerfi went all-in with a solid AK, but Chouity held pocket eights, leaving Guerfi in eighth place. Spectators had to wonder if Roger Hairabedian simply got tired of playing with so little funds– the Frenchman actually folded every hand for the first couple of hours (and they say that people don’t really fold much in tournament poker), and after losing half his stack to blinds, he put his chips in on a J3 of spades and lost out to Chouity’s A3, putting him in seventh place. More time passed without much action in the game, and then Plauski went all-in with KT, and Chouity took the hand with a pair of queens. Plauski finished sixth.

Andrew Chen was the anomaly in Season 6 Grand Final action, as he was the only player not eliminated by Chouity; when trying to get some action into a fairly dull game, Chen tried to go for a flush, but was ultimately stopped by Klinger, who sported pocket kings when Chen’s flush failed to make, putting Chen into fifth place.

Herve Costa managed to only play five hands during the final table, and it was on the fifth that he was outplayed by Chouity, who sealed Costa in fourth place. Third place would go to Dominykas Karmazinas, the first Lithuanian to make an EPT final, when Chouity simply outdrew him. While it may seem like luck was on Chouity’s side, it was simply a matter of him having more than enough chips to hold on until the right hand came along; with as many chips as he had, he could afford to lose a few hands without much effect.

Finally, the game was down to just Chouity and Klinger, the two players who weren’t afraid to put their chips on the table. Both players had benefited from this, as Chouity’s stack was now legendary, and Klinger’s was far better than it was in the beginning (though still nowhere even remotely close to his opponent). Klinger had no qualms about going all-in pre-flop when he was dealt pocket eights. He had no way of knowing that Chouity had pocket aces, and the game was now over, with Nicolas Chouity the Season 6 EPT Grand Final Champion.

Final results:

  1. Nicolas Chouity – €1,700,000
  2. Josef Klinger – €1,000,000
  3. Dominykas Karmazinas – €700,000
  4. Herve Costa – €500,000
  5. Andrew Chen – €400,000
  6. Aleh Plauski – €300,000
  7. Roger Hairabedian – €200,000
  8. Mesbah Guerfi – €140,000

EPT Finals – Season 7

Season 7 of the European Poker Tour took the action away from Monte Carlo and instead took place in Madrid, Spain, where 686 players coughed up the hefty buy-in for a shot a part of the €6,860,000 prize pool. While Venezuela’s Ivan Freitez entered the action with almost twice the chips of any other player, affording him an edge while playing that the other players wouldn’t be able to overcome, the other players shuffled around their positions and demonstrated that, at the end of the day, it’s the player that controls the game, not the size of the stack behind him.

As the tournament began, the players and chip amounts were as follows:

Player NameCountrySeat No.Chip Amount
Ivan FreitezVenezuela65995000
Juan MaceirasSpain33150000
Andrey DanilyukRussia42645000
Eugene YanaytUSA12420000
Torsten BrinkmannGermany71875000
Alex GomesBrazil81670000
Tamas LendvaiHungary21655000
Andrew LiUSA51120000

PokerStars record holder Andrew Li, the player to hit SuperNova Elite in the shortest amount of time, held the short stack. He gained some chips during the beginning of play, getting his stack up to 1.5 million, then threw it all in the middle against Eugene Yanayt. Yanayt held AcQc to Li’s pocket 3s, and when the board showed 9-9-4-7, it looked like Li would take it with two pair. The river showed a 4, giving the players equal hands and Yanayt the high card for the steal, and Li went to the rail.

Yanayt eliminated another player shortly thereafter– Brazil’s Alex Gomes, who was shooting for a triple crown (he already holds a World Poker Tour title and a WSOP bracelet). The American held pocket tens when Gomes when all-in with 8s7s. After a K-5-3-8-5 board, Gomes was out and Yanayt was looking good at almost 5 million. Yanayt’s luck seemed to have run out, though, and after lengthy play during which he lost the majority of his chips, he was taken out by Freitez, who held pocket nines to Yanayt’s pocket fives. Because of this elimination, Freitez would go into the four-hour break holding roughly 40% of the chips.

Juan Maceiras also hit the rail before the break, though, and he was helped there by Torsten Brinkmann, who had been playing a conservative game from the start. Brinkmann held AsKh to Maceiras’ Jack and 10 of hearts, and when the board came out with absolutely nothing useful to either player, Brinkmann’s high card sent the final table’s last remaining Team PokerStars pro home.

After the break, the action picked up, and it seemed that Freitez was out for blood. The first elimination after the break was Andrey Danilyuk, who went all-in against Freitez, and an ace during the river gave the chip leader enough to send the Russian and his pocket threes to the rail. Shortly thereafter, Freitez took out Tamas Lendvai, who was sitting on a pair of nines when he went all-in against Brinkmann. Freitez called and Brinkmann bailed, and a repeat of the previous hand saw Freitez beat another middle pair by getting an ace on the flop. Lendvai went home in third place with €550,000.

Going into heads-up play, Freitez held almost 4 times as many chips as Brinkmann– 16 million to 4.5 million. Brinkmann held his ground as long as possible, but when Freitez made a button raise with the 10-9 of diamonds, the German went all in with AdKc. The first card to drop was a 9, and nothing else emerged to help Brinkmann, sending him to the rail in second place and making Ivan Freitez the EPT Season 7 Grand Final Champion.

Final results:

  1. Ivan Freitez – €1,500,000
  2. Torsten Brinkmann – €900,000
  3. Tamas Lendvai – €550,000
  4. Andrey Danilyuk – €400,000
  5. Juan Maceiras – €315,000
  6. Eugene Yanayt – €250,000
  7. Alex Gomes – €185,000
  8. Andrew Li – €130,000