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Rijkenberg conquers EPT San Remo
Constant Rijkenberg has won the PokerStars.com European Poker Tour San Remo tournament.
The 20-year-old Dutch poker pro defeated Finland's Kalle Niemi in heads-up play to claim his first EPT title and €1,508,000 in prize money.
Just don't expect him to be too excited.
"Honestly? I feel nothing," Rijkenberg told PokerListings.com. "Totally nothing. I've got a rule for myself: Don't show any emotions or feel any emotions at the table."
His rules notwithstanding, the former economics student was clearly excited at Thursday night's final table.
When his aces held up against Niemi's top pair, tens, to seal the deal, Rijkenberg pumped his fists, clapped his hands and was swarmed by his entourage.
"I feel like I deserved to win," he said. "For me, it was like fate."
Fate certainly seemed to play a hand in the victory.
Early in the day, Rijkenberg crippled American William Reynolds after flopping the nuts with Q-J against A-K in a massive preflop all-in.
The hand saw Rijkenberg four-bet shove for nearly 1.9 million with 25k/50k blinds and was a key turning point at the final table.
"I was opening a lot of hands in a row and I knew Will would be the first to take a stand," Rijkenberg said.
"I decided to four-bet shove any two cards that were decent enough to go to showdown. Queen-jack was at the bottom of my range, but I would have shoved aces there too."
The hand was doubly important, Rijkenberg said, because Reynolds was clearly among the biggest threats at the table.
"Will is an incredible player," he said. "When my queen-jack outflopped his ace-king, that was the moment that I thought I might win. I thought Will was the best player there."
Reynolds would mount a comeback before running K-J into Rijkenberg's A-7 and busting out in fourth.
His fellow American, Alex "assassinato" Fitzgerald would fall in seventh-place, a disappointing finish for the young online wizard.
"There are a lot of monkeys at that table," he told EPT hostess Kara Scott. "I was looking forward to playing with them."
Among those monkeys was Dragan Galic, who held the chip lead at the end of play on Days 1 through 4, but whose final table performance was marked by play the EPT commentators described as "shocking."
"I would have liked to have had more time with Galic at the table," Rijkenberg said. "He was giving away some sick tells and I wanted to play with him some more."
Galic doubled up Rijkenberg early, with kings against threes, and quickly surrendered his chip lead.
He hung on long enough to earn fifth-place money, but saw his tournament life expire at the hands of another one of Rijkenberg's miracle flops.
All-in with pocket nines against Rijkenberg's A-Q, Galic watched the flop come K-J-10, again giving the youngster the nuts and leaving the Croatian drawing very slim.
A blank on the turn and another on the river sealed his fate.
Niemi, meanwhile, flew under the radar for most of the day, taking advantage of his rivals' unchecked aggression to jump up in the pay scales before busting Swede Gustav Sundell in third place to earn his berth in the heads-up match.
It would be a short battle.
Rijkenberg came in with a 7:5 chip lead and within four hands had clinched his victory, courtesy of a well-camouflaged pocket pair of aces.
"It was the first time I'd had aces the entire tournament," Rijkenberg said. "It was the perfect ending."
For second place, Niemi earned €862,000.
Get full results here.
The EPT concludes its fifth season in Monte Carlo with the €10,000 Grand Final beginning on April 28th. Get full coverage in the PokerListings.com Live Tournaments section.