There have been plenty of renowned poker pros to take down EPT Super High Rollers over the years — think Viktor Blom, Erik Seidel, Ole Schemion.
But it was "amateur" Leon Tsoukernik who laid claim to the last EPT SHR ever held this week in Prague.
Tsoukernik, the CEO of King’s Casino in Rozvadov, out-dueled premier English pro Charlie Carrel tonight to take down €741,100 in a surprising turn of events.
Last of an Era
In a week that will see a lot of “lasts,” the final €50k Super High Roller has a special spot as there weren’t too many stops on the EPT with buy-ins that high – just Prague, Barcelona, Monaco and the Bahamas.
With 49 entries this year participation was a little worse than last when the entry was paid 56 times. Those who hoped to be the last €50k Super High Roller winner were an elite field, as you’d expect.
Steve O'Dwyer bricked this one but will still go down as the biggest EPT winner ever.
Last year’s winner Steve O’Dwyer was back, as were Isaac Haxton, Mustapha Kanit, Daniel Dvoress, Sam Greenwood, Juha Helppi, Vladimir Troyanovskiy, Bertrand Grospellier, Max Silver, Davidi Kitai, Schemion and more.
But the story of the event was mainly written by two other players, namely Tsoukernik and former PokerListings rookie award winner Carrel.
Both players lost their first 250k stacks within the first five levels at the same table. Both then bought in again only to be sat down almost next to each other for their second bullets.
They played a lot of pots together that day that were won, most of the time, by the young English player. Carrel surged to the top late on Day 1 while Tsoukernik struggled.
By Day 2, though, Tsoukernik had the lead and both made it to the final table, where they kept on battling and were responsible for some of the most memorable hands of the recent past.
In one of them Carrel was able to talk Tsoukernik out of a call when Carrel held red tens and Tsoukernik had A♥ 9♠ on a board of Q♠ 8♠ 4♥ J♠ K♠.
Carrel made Tsoukernik believe he had the ten of spades and took over the chiplead.
The Seven-Deuce Game
Another hand that will be talked about for a while was #39 of this final table. Tsoukernik, famous for his unpredictable moves with equally unpredictable hands, raised with 7♣ 2♣ and Carrel called with A♣ 4♣ from the small blind.
Nobody bet on the A♥ 9♣ 5♠ flop, then Carrel took the lead on the 4♥ turn. Tsoukernik called to see the river 3♠ and once again table fireworks began.
Carrel bet 620,000 with his two-pair into a pot of about 1.3 million. Tsoukernik raised to 1.7 million, put on his poker face, shut down and waited.
And wait he did as Carrel took more than eight (!) minutes trying to figure out if he was subject to another bluff by Tsoukernik or if he was good.
He tried to get a reaction out of Tsoukernik but failed. Eventually Carrel called the clock on himself but still managed to persuade himself to call and see the bad news.
This is not what you usually mean when you talk about the seven-deuce game, but it sure was an interesting way to play them.
Tsoukernik Gets Lucky in Final Hand
After the 7-2 hand Tsoukernik pulled away, holding the same amount of chips as the other three players left combined. Quite a few people on the rail were hoping for a heads-up match between Tsoukernik vs Carrel.
Official Leon Tsoukernik PokerStars Winner Photo.
That’s exactly what they got. Carrel crawled back, found a couple of hands and busted Viacheslav Buldygin in 4th place before Juha Helppi, who has played in the EPT longer than anyone at this final table, succumbed to Tsoukernik.
The Casino manager began heads-up play with a 3-1 chiplead but Carrel was back to over 25 bb which gave him some room to play.
While it had taken over 2.5 hours to go from four to two players, heads-up only lasted about half an hour.
In the last hand Tsoukernik got lucky to win with K-J against Carrel’s A-K, but it would be wrong to say he got lucky to win the tournament.
Casino Owner Trumps Poker Pro
Tsoukernik never let Carrel get close and there were no major set-ups between the two so Tsoukernik really managed to hold his own against the pro.
Although, looking at these two players, terms like “professional” are relative.Carrel counts as the pro but it's rather likely that casino owner Tsoukernik has played for way more money than Carrel.
It was a fitting victory as Tsoukernik’s King’s Casino keeps expanding and is already on the schedule for a 2017 PokerStars Festival. Here’s a look at the payouts for the final EPT SHR ever held: