EPT Prague: Padraig O'Neill Scoops Main Event title for €1,030,000

Padraig O'Neill smiles as he celebrates winning the EPT Prague Main Event 2023
Andrew Burnett
Posted on: December 17, 2023 21:16 PST

Ireland’s Padraig 'Smidge' O'Neill pulled off a miracle comeback to land the PokerStars EPT Prague Main Event last night, surviving an onslaught from the seemingly-unstoppable Jon Kyte to pocket €1,030,000 and the coveted 'Spadie' trophy.

A record-breaking field of 1,285 entries started out on a quest to take down the €5,300 flagship event at King’s Casino Prague a week ago. By yesterday only five remained, all having already secured career-best cashes of €271,660, with a seven-figure prize up top.

Jon Kyte came in as runaway chip leader, boasting more than two-thirds of the chips in play having KO’d multiple players the previous day, including Niall Farrell and Marle Spragg.

Wagner busts in 5th

It was Ireland’s Padraig O'Neill who drew first blood, sending local hero Adam Wagner to the rails after a perfectly-legitimate button shove ran into a big hand...

Adam Wagner: A♣5♠
Padraig O'Neill: T♦️️T♣

The flop gave Wagner some extra hope...

Flop: 8♦️️4❤️2♠ 

...but the runout bricked, 5th place and €271,660 for the Czech.

Turn: J♣ 

River: Q❤️ 

Then it was the turn of China’s Cheng Zhao to deal with the Norwegian juggernaut who was ruling the table, but he too found it a step too far.

Zhao falls in 4th

Poker player Cheng Zhao at the EPT Prague Main Event final table Zhao ran his A-Q into the A-K of Jon Kyte

Kyte opened from under the gun and Zhao shoved from the small blind only to receive a snap-call and the bad news...

Cheng Zhao: A♣Q♣
Jon Kyte: A❤️K♠

Flop: 6♣3♦️️5♦️️

Turn: 7♠

River: 3♠

That was all she wrote for Zhao; 4th spot and €353,240 still plenty of reason to be cheerful.

Ruggeri out in 3rd

A tough 3-handed battle raged and it was short-stacked Umberto Ruggeri who eventually fell first, despite hitting the flop when all-in and at risk...

Umberto Ruggeri: T❤️9❤️
Padraig O'Neill: K❤️Q♠

Flop: A♠T♠6❤️ 

Turn: 4♦️️ 

All he had to do was dodge the river and he was right back in the mix but fate had other ideas...

River: K♣ 

Third place and €459,240 for the Italian whose previous best came earlier this year with a 91st place, €20,550 cash at the EPT Barcelona Main Event.

Umberto Ruggeri playing at the final table of the 2023 EPT Prague Main Event Ruggeri's elimination prompted an epic heads-up battle

Heads-up saw Kyte, who had dominated proceedings for almost two days, against Ireland’s Padraig O'Neill, who’d had to spike a two-outer against Kyte several hours earlier.

The players discussed but were unable to come to a deal and what transpired was a marathon five-hour battle in which the lead changed hands multiple times. First Kyte, then O’Neill, then Kyte again were on the ropes and seemingly down and out, but each time they fought back to retake control.

O'Neill triumphant

Eventually something had to give and when Kyte had only 5 BBs left, the denouement arrived.

O'Neill jammed from the button and Kyte called it off in the big blind...

Jon Kyte: T5❤️
Padraig O'Neill: K♠T♦️️

Flop: Q♠9♦️️3♣

Turn: 2♠

River: 9❤️ 

...only for the board to brick and O’Neill’s king-high to take down the tournament win.

Padraig O'Neill and Jon Kyte duelled for five hours for the EPT Prague Main Event title The heads-up duel lasted five hours

Final results

Position Player Prize Money
1 Padraig O'Neill €1,030,000
2 Jon Kyte €643,000
3 Umberto Ruggeri €459,240
4 Cheng Zhao €353,240
5 Adam Wagner €271,660
6 Grigorii Rodin €209,000
7 Govert Metaal €160,750
8 Marle Spragg €123,600
9 Vincent Meli €95,000

A jubilant O’Neill told reporters afterwards: “It feels amazing. It's just happened. It hasn't sunk in. I was hoping to get fourth, third would've been amazing. To get heads-up, I never thought it would've happened.

O’Neill revealed: “I booked a flight last night for 7pm today. That's how optimistic I was," and complemented Kyte on a great showing: “He's really tough. I didn't want to play for €300,000 or €400,000 heads-up. He put me in lots of tough spots. He would've been a really worthy champion.”

Images courtesy of PokerStars Live