When six players returned to play down to a winner of the €10,300 High Roller event today, the two biggest stacks were known predominantly for their great aptitude at finishing second.
Martin Jacobson had two EPT Main Event runner-up places on his resume (yet no title) while Vojtech Ruzicka's most memorable tournament score was a second place (after a chop) in the 2011 WCOOP on PokerStars.
Something probably had to give.
As it happened, they had their "heads up" duel when two others were also sitting at the table. Jacobson lost two critical pots to Ruzicka to finish in fourth, taking €83,200 but to remain title-less. It meant that Ruzicka could go on to a "real" heads up battle with Tim Reilly, from which the Czech would quickly emerge victorious and earn his maiden title on the EPT.
Ruzicka now sees his name on a big cheque bearing the total €313,000. One suspects he will be a fixture on this tour for many, many years to come.
Although the high rollers were pretty healthy in chips when they resumed overnight, the feeling was always there that they wouldn't take long to identify their winner. The helicopters were warming up their rotor-blades even as they filtered to the table, ready to whisk these online sharks to their poker caves for tomorrow's Sunday grind.
Steven "zugwat" Silverman stole a march on the rest when he bust in sixth place, adding €44,500 to his kitty. He was quickly pursued by Bryn "brynkenney" Kenney, whose fifth was worth €64,100.
Brynn Kenney: off for the Sunday grind
Then it was the aforementioned Jacobson, leaving Reilly, Ruzicka and Alexandre Reard. The latter was the last of the lesser-known locals who swelled the ranks of this event, but the nip, nip, nip of the sharks finally proved too much.
Martin Jacobson: fourth, not first
Reilly, who has had a breakout week on the EPT would account for Reard eventually, when the American hit a huge draw to best Reard's medium pair.
Timothy Reilly: came up one place short
When only two remained, with almost perfectly matched stacks, it was pretty clear that either could take this, and either would deserve it. It was also clear that they wouldn't hang around in deciding who it was to be.
The early running went with Reilly, but then Ruzicka found jacks as Reilly had tens and it swung decisively to the Czech Republic. Reilly was powerless to stop Ruzicka ramping up the aggression and getting things over with in a matter of about four hours, start to finish.
EPT9 Deauville, High Roller
Date: 7-9 February 2013
Players: 85 (plus 14 rebuys)
Prize pool: €950,400
1. Vojtech Ruzicka, Czech Republic, €313,000
2. Timothy Reilly, USA, €180,000
3. Alexandre Reard, France, €105,700
4. Martin Jacobson, Sweden, €83,200
5. Bryn Kenney, USA, €64,100
6. Steven Silverman, USA, 47,500
7, Jonathan Duhamel, PokerStars Team Pro, Canada, €38,000
8. Alain Goldberg, France, €28,500
9. Kevin MacPhee, USA, €23,800
10. Andras Nemeth, Hungary, €23,800
11. Davidi Kitai, Belgium, €21,400
12. Adrian Mateos, Spain, €21,400