Lebanese Qualifier Wins EPT Grand Final

Nicolas Chouity
'It's like a dream come true.'

Nicolas Chouity went wire-to-wire at the final table to win the 2010 PokerStars European Poker Tour Grand Final in Monte Carlo Friday.

"It's like a dream come true," said the 23-year-old Beirut, Lebanon native, who brought a huge chip lead to Friday's final eight and never let it go on the way to collecting a €1,700,000 first-place prize.

"I'm really excited to have won."

Chouity, who earned his way into the Grand Final through a $22 PokerStars satellite, said the competition at the final table was tough, but the chip lead he built on the tournament's penultimate day made things a whole lot easier.

"There were a couple of good guys, but there was a big difference in chips and that made me more confident to go for first and only for first," he said.

After a bit of a slow start to the final, 34-year-old Parisian Mesbah Guerfi was the first player relegated to the rail.

He started the day second in chips, but after turning ace-king into top-pair top-kicker on the river against Nicolas Chouity, he called all in only to find Chouity had flopped a set of eights and turned a full house.

Chouity massive chip lead only grew as shortstacked French pro Roger Hairabedian shipped it in bad against him and couldn't find a way out of it.

Aleh Plauski handed his chips to Chouity next, shoving king-ten into his ace-queen and failing to improve before Canadian Andrew Chen pushed suited rags into Josef Klinger's kings to bow out fourth.

22-year-old Lithuanian Dominykas Karmazinas doubled up before the dinner break to pull himself out of a shortstacked hole, but when the players returned, Chouity put his foot and the gas and did not let up.

He managed to knock Karmazinas out third, hitting a three outer against him to move on to heads up holding a 5:1 chip lead over Klinger.

In the end, it was only a matter of time, as the Lebanese online qualifier pounded the Austrian chess grand master turned poker player into submission, picking up aces to his eights to book the biggest win of his burgeoning poker career.

Moving forward, Chouity, who started playing poker online, says his win could do wonders for the game in his native country.

"I think many will try to do what I accomplished," he said. "It's growing and it will be growing more once they see a Lebanese like them winning an EPT Grand Final."

And as far as that €1,700,000 prize is concerned, Chouity says he needs a little time to digest the victory before he decides what to do with it.

"I just won," he said. "Let me live the dream and then I'll think about the €1.7 million."

The EPT Grand Final drew 848 of the best poker players on the planet to Monaco this week, creating an €8,480,000 for the final event of the tour's sixth season.

Season 7 will begin Aug. 11, 2010 in Tallin, Estonia.

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