With four players left in the 888Live Rozvadov Main Event, talented poker pros Ludo Geilich and Niall Farrell were the odds-on favorites to come out ahead.
Romanian poker player Catalin "SryIGotOdds" Pop had a different vision for how it would play out.
In an unlikely turn of events Pop busted both of the Scottish favorites to get heads-up with German player Bernd Schönwälder, playing just his second event ever.
Once the big guns were cleared away it only took him a few hands to beat Schönwälder heads-up and book the main prize of €80,000 -- by far the biggest live score of his poker career.
Big Pots Ensued
The two Scotsmen Farrell and Geilich came into the final as two of the chip leaders and the favorites. Funnily enough Farrell had invited Geilich to Rozvadov so they also flew in together and shared a hotel room.
Big pots ensued.
With $4.7 million in combined live earnings they measured up favorably to the $163k of the other six players at the final table combined – with Schönwälder at $0.
As expected the Scots played very actively and plenty of big pots ensued. Both Geilich and Farrell lost big pots to Juan Carlos Vecino, who in turn lost a big one to the Romanian.
The chips moved back and forth but nobody seemed to quite notice German player Bernd Schönwälder, a pure amateur who was playing only his second live event and has never had a cash before.
Schönwälder spent the whole day leaning in his chair, waiting for big hands, getting called with worse, and hanging in with by far the shortest stack.
Even when they were down to three nobody seemed to realize that Schönwälder was still there, because nobody had expected it -- and that included himself.
By that time Geilich had given away his big chip lead and, finally, his stack. The Romanian trapped Geilich with pocket queens and his A5 couldn't catch up.
Big day for Bernd.
Just minutes later Pop got lucky when his pocket fives cracked the jacks of Farrell and suddenly both the Scots were gone.
Top of the Pops
Pop started the heads-up with almost a 3-1 chip lead and immediately started to grind Schönwälder down.
Schönwälder, who had hit every single flop when he was involved, ran out of luck and couldn’t get anything going anymore.
Pop won almost every single pot and soon Schönwälder found himself forced to go all in with T♥ 8♥.
Catalin called with K-Jo and the board ran out without hitting any of the playes.
Both pop and Schönwälder celebrated by far their largest wins in poker. As Pop had politely refused the deal Bernd proposed, he cashed for the full €80,000 advertised by 888poker.
Final Table Payouts
|6||Juan Carlos Vecino||Spain||€17,730|
|8||Pavel Berka||Czech Republic||€9619|
The second 888Live Make It Big Festival is now over, and big it was. The main event drew 531 entrants compared to 288 at the first festival in London last October. Consequently the first prize of €80,000 was significantly higher than the first prize in London (£50,000).
888 Ladies stood tall.
Keep in mind also that the inaugural festival took place in the Aspers Casino in East London, while this one happened in the King’s Casino which is rather remote in terms of location.
However, King’s is on its way to becoming the most successful casino in Europe – it’s already the largest one with over 100 tables in the tournament area alone – and if you look at the players heading here it becomes apparent it's already highly attractive.
WSOP November Niners Michael “the Grinder” Mizrachi and Pierre Neuville, high roller Martin Kabrhel, WPT and EPT winner Niall Farrell were there, to name a few.
Chris Moorman, Dominik Nitsche, Kara Scott, Sofia Lövgren and Natalie Hof all carried the 888 banner and the ladies put up a great show against invitees Oanh Bui, Joanna Kwak and Anna Wegscheider in the Tag Team Challenge.
Last but not least, Will Kassouf played heads-up in a show match against Stacy Matuson, whom he so infamously bluffed out of a big pot at the WSOP main event last year. It didn’t go too well for the Englishman this time, though.
888Live Rozvadov Festival Main Event by Numbers
- Buy-in: €808+80
- Three starting days
- Day 1A: 72 players, 14 advanced
- Day 1B: Super Satellite 179 players, 14 entries; 155 players, 41 advanced
- Day 1C: Super Satellite 131 players, 11 entries; 284 players, 78 advanced
- Day 2: corrected total number of entries 531
- Prize pool: €300,000 guaranteed
- Total prize pool: €407,596; 55 players ITM, min cash €1997; final table min cash 7785, 1st prize €80,000