Mercier, Panyak, Usoltseva Reign Supreme in Prague OFC Series

Alexandra Usoltseva.

Isabelle Mercier and Maxim Panyak both collected nice wins in Open Face Chinese events in Prague this week but the player who left the deepest mark was Russian Alexandra Usoltseva.

Former PokerStars pro Mercier continued her comeback into the poker world and won the inaugural progressive pineapple OFC event.

Panyak took the highest profile event, claiming the prestigious high roller title and besting such elite names as Dan "Jungleman12" Cates, Jason Mercier and Dzmitry Urbanovich.

But it was Usoltseva who cemented Russia's (and her own) reputation as OFC kingpins with a dominant win in the big OFC Main Event.

Mercier Wins Opening Event

The first of three OFC events at the Prague Poker Festival was an Open Face Chinese Progressive Pineapple event with a buy-in of €350.

Event #1 to Mercier.

It drew 108 players to the tables, among them Max Pescatori, the first European player with four WSOP bracelets, and Isabelle “No Mercy” Mercier.

The French-Canadian player has come to be associated with both OFC poker and TonyBet and she outlasted the so-far-largest player field in a live OFC event.

It took no less than 14 hours of play, including a four-hour heads-up against German player Frank Goehler, until Mercier finally emerged as the winner.

First prize was worth €10,200. The OFC high roller event was scheduled only five hours later, but as you would expect, it was going to be postponed.

Final-Table Payouts:

  • 1. Isabelle Mercier (Canada) - €10,189
  • 2. Frank Goehler (Germany) - €6,304
  • 3. Petri Heinanen (Finland) - €4,081
  • 4. Jan Štefek (Czech Republic) - €2,999

Panyak Wins OFC High Roller

Twenty-seven entries were counted with notables including Dan “Jungleman12” Cates, Max Pescatori, Isabelle Mercier, Jason Mercier, Jen Shahade (to defend her title), Natasha Barbour, Dzmitry Urbanovich, King's Casino owner Leon Tsoukernik and Sergey Rybachenko.

Maxim Panyak

During the late hours of the evening it was Alexandra Usoltseva who ran her stack up at the feature table with Pescatori and Tsoukernik. She managed to bust Tsoukernik but not to make the money as she finished just two spots shy.

Urbanovich seems to be a real fan of OFC as he bought in five times, which meant he had to finish in third place just to get his money back. Instead he was left with nothing, finally finishing 10th.

Jason Mercier went from big stack to short stack just around the bubble while his partner Natasha Barbour was leading the pack. Both made the money but Jason managed to sneak ahead and finish in front. Pescatori also made the money and came in fourth.

Nobody could stop Evgeny Kocherov and Maxim Panyak, though, who battled it out until eight o’clock in the morning. Panyak eventually had the upper hand in this Russian duel and claimed victory and the humongous belt that came with it.


  • 1. Maxim Panyak (Russia) - €110,000
  • 2. Evgeny Kocherov (Russia) - €76,030
  • 3. Jason Mercier (US) - €50,655
  • 4. Max Pescatori (Italy) - €37,000
  • 5. Natasha Barbour (US) - €30,410

Russians Dominate Main Event

For the second time TonyBet hosted its OFC series at the Corinthia in Prague and with 118 entries the field dropped slightly compared to the inaugural event.

Usoltseva is champ.

Last year’s main event winner, Mikael Blomlie, was back to defend his title as was reigning High Roller champ Jen Shahade. Neither could repeat their success.

Also noteworthy was the appearance of Yuanxi Chen, who came to Prague all the way from Singapore just to take part in some OFC live events. He became the unfortunate bubble boy.

The Open Face Chinese Pineapple event was set for two days and only 12 players survived Day 1 headed by Sergey Bagirov. Six out of 12 finalists were Russian with Canada throwing two players in the mix and Belarus, Ukraine, Norway and Lithuania with one player each.

When they were down to six just two Russians were left - Karason and Usoltseva. Usoltseva was the short stack but then surged to the top and by the time the last four players sat down at one table she led the pack.

Her success in Prague is no coincidence as Usoltseva is widely regarded as the best OFC Pineapple player in the world.

Final-Table Payouts:

  • 1. Alexandra Usoltseva (Russia) - €30,007
  • 2. Roman Pavlik (Ukraine) - €19,336
  • 3. Jean-Philippe Piquette - €12,034
  • 4. Tomas Ksenevicius - €8809

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