Records broken and tempers lost at EPT Prague Main Event

Andrew Burnett
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Posted on: December 13, 2023 7:16 pm EST

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.”

Michelle Nizardelli was disqualifed from EPT Prague for his violent response to a fellow player
Michelle Nizardelli saw red, then saw his chips removed from play

‘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♦️

Flop: K♣K♦️6❤️

Turn: 9♠

River: T♣

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♠

Flop: 8♣8❤️4♣ 

Turn: 2♣ 

River: 9♦️ 

…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.

Poker player Steve O'Dwyer at the table during the EPT Prague Main Event, 2023
Steve O’Dwyer is still in the hunt for the €1,030,000 first prize

End of Day 2 chip counts

1Arthur Thiriart710,000
2Jon Kyte615,000
3Dejan Jakovljevic600,000
4Jovan Kenjic567,000
5Cesar Garcia 535,000
6Grigorii Rodin500,000
7Eugenio Sancheoni490,000
8Vlado Banicevic487,000
9Ramon Colillas474,000
10Jaroslaw Lipien472,000

Other notables include:

22Steve O’Dwyer400,000
29Niall Farrell335,000
37Dario Sammartino298,000
38Marle Spragg297,000
52Maria Lampropoulos 230,000
66Tamas Adamszki190,000

Images courtesy of PokerStars Live and Winamax