PokerStars’ Prague EPT Main Event attracted a record number of entries earlier today. The final figure of 1,285 topped last year’s 1,267 entrants, producing a prizepool of €6,101,300. The winner is set to pocket a seven-figure payday.
Any worries that the €5,300 buy-in flagship event would struggle due to the clash with the WSOP and WPT were blown away when the dawn of Day 2 brought the final totals, Sam Grafton among those who tipped the field over the record line.
The Italian Job
The opening two days hadn’t passed entirely without incident, however, with a dramatic DQ making the headlines near the end of Day 1B.
There had already been some controversy on table 12 involving 57-year-old Italian player Michelle Nizardelli, suspected of angleshooting Cesar Garcia by betting big after river play had already gone check-check between the pair.
The very next hand, Nizardelli found himself holding big slick and facing off (in more ways than one) with Swedish player Gattas Kortas, who was all-in and at risk with pocket 10s.
Michelle Nizardelli: A♠K♣
Ghattas Kortas: T♠T❤️
When the board ran out K♦️4❤️7❤️Q♣J♠, a seriously annoyed Kortas slapped the hat from Nizardelli’s head as he left the table, apparently calling him “a typical Italian” as he did so.
That was enough to get Nizardelli on his feet, and he proceeded to push Kortas in the back. When Kortas confronted him, Nizardelli took things a step further and headbutted the Swede, knocking him to the ground (as seen above in an unattributed pic).
The upshot was a disqualification for Nizardelli, escorted from the King’s Casino Prague by security and his stack taken out of play. The Italian player later explained to AssoPoker: “I’ve never done anything like that in my life. For me, poker is a hobby, fun. I’m saddened as a person even before as a poker player.”
He explained of the physical confrontation: “He turned menacingly and we both posed as boxers. I got in a little headbutt – to be honest I’m not even sure I hit him, but he accentuated the blow. After 10 minutes I went to him to apologize and we even hugged, a sign that he too had understood that he had made a mistake.”
‘Papo MC’ among the casualties
Meanwhile, day two dawned afresh, broke some records, and also promised to separate the also-rans from those who cashed. Although there is a cool €1,030,000 up top, making the top 191 finishers in the money was first priority.
Among the notables who failed to cash was Alejandro ‘Papo MC’ Lococo, the Argentine rapper and PokerStars ambassador. Lococo responded to what he perceived to be a squeeze from Niklas Astedt in the big blind with an all-in, and they were off to the races…
Alejandro Lococo: A♣J♥
Niklas Astedt: 9❤️9♦️
Grafton and former EPT Main Event champ, Simon Wiciak, were others who came up short, as did original Hendon Mobster, Barney Boatman.
Bursting the Bubble
It took a while, as several players doubled up to survive, but eventually the dam burst and it was Sebastien Matrige who left empty-handed.
With Matrige short-stacked, a button open by Boris Pesic ended up with all the chips in the middle, Matrige in a race for his tournament life…
Sebastien Matrige: A♦️Q♦️
Boris Pesic: 6♦️6♠
…and with that, everyone else had locked up €8,420.
A short while later, and after another 16 players had fallen, the remaining 175 players bagged for the night, with PokerStars ambassador Ramon Colillas among the biggest stacks.
End of Day 2 chip counts
Other notables include:
Images courtesy of PokerStars Live and Winamax