Stani scoresAs the European Poker Tour broke new ground with an inaugural visit to Estonia, Kevin Stani became the lucky man to lift the first title in Tallinn
While it’s hard to believe that there’s still a country left in Europe that the EPT hasn’t already conquered, last month’s trip to Tallinn represented the first tour event to be held in the poker-crazy Estonian capital – and boy was it one to remember.
Just as the tour has done in countless cities before, the inaugural EPT Tallinn easily smashed all previous records by attracting a 420-strong field, making it the biggest poker tournament ever to be held in the country and creating a €1.6m prize pool.
The lion’s share of this impressive purse ultimately went the way of Norwegian online pro Kevin Stani who, having recently made his first tentative steps into the world of live poker, was left celebrating his biggest cash after beating Konstantin Bilyauer.
The pair were left duking it out heads-up after the elimination of 2007 EPT Prague winner Arnaud Mattern in third, with the Frenchman’s dreams of becoming the first player to win two EPT titles being cruelly dashed as his pocket queens lost out to Stani’s pocket threes when the latter turned a set in a tournament-defining pot.
The elimination of the Team PokerStars Pro provided Stani with a huge stack of chips and all the momentum going into heads-up play against Bilyauer and – despite the Russian’s dogged resistance – his 2-to-1 chip lead proved too big an obstacle to overcome as Stani cantered to his first major title and a career-best haul of €400k.
Having already come back from the brink of elimination once in the pair’s heads-up encounter when his Kd Qh managed to successfully out-race Stani’s pocket sevens, Bilyauer was eventually issued his marching orders after calling off the remainder of his stack on the river of a huge pot only to find his opponent holding the stone nuts.
The final hand came about when Stani opened the action for 25k on the button and Bilyauer defended from the big blind. Both players checked the 3c 9h 2s flop, but when the Russian led out for 375k on the 4h turn, he ran into some resistance when Stani paused to consider his options before ultimately raising a total of 500k more.
Bilyauer did make the call and, when the 8d fell on the river, he again fired out a bet of 1.2 million – strangely only leaving himself an additional 1.4 million behind. After a long pause Stani announced that he was all-in and with a long sigh and a wry smile, Bilyauer eventually called only to see his opponent turn up 6s 5c for the nut straight.
It was a fittingly dramatic end to what had been an entertaining final table in Tallinn, and with Bilyauer quietly departing the table €250k richer, Stani was left to celebrate his very own piece of EPT history in the Estonian capital.
FINAL TABLE PAYOUTS
1 Kevin Stani €400,000
2 Konstantin Bilyauer €250,000
3 Arnaud Mattern €160,000
4 Dmitry Vitkind €120,000
5 Mikko Jaatinen €80,000
6 Steven van Zadelhoff €63,000
7 Nicolo Calia €47,000
8 Bassam Elnajjar €32,000