The champion of Eureka Prague, the biggest ever Eureka poker tour event, is Menikos Panagiotou. The 29-year-old Cypriot had already outlasted 644 players to reach the final eight and he absolutely ran over the final table today, eliminating six of his seven opponents to claim the first prize of €137,100.
He didn't run over the table by using all out aggression, or by doing anything out of line, the Cypriot simply got dealt some good hands and they held up when he needed them to. Easy game.
By the time he reached heads-up against Robert Vukovic, the first ever Croatian SuperNova Elite, he had a near 5:1 chip lead. Not long into heads-up the first all-in confrontation occurred. A pair of sevens for Panagiotou, K♠T♣ for Vukovic. After a pause so pregnant you wanted to give it your seat on the bus, the dealer produced a A♦5♠6♣9♠3♦ board. The pair held up and Panagiotou's rail went wild. "My friends helped, psychologically for sure," said Panagiotou afterwards.
For finishing second Vukovic, a 26-year-old professional player from Cakovec, collected €75,000 which, due to a three-handed deal, is the same as Matias Knaapinen got for finishing third. The Finn had played an aggressive game throughout, he was the only other player to eliminate an opponent today when he took care of Marcel Buissink in eighth, with pocket aces against the Dutchman's A♠K♣.
But, the 28-year-old pro chose the wrong time to get aggressive against Panagiotou. He limp-shoved Q♦8♦ for 21 big blinds and after asking him if he had a pocket pair Panagiotou made a brave and, as it turned out, good call with A♠8♥.
There had also been an attempt at a deal with four left, but one couldn't be agreed and that was to the cost of Ioannis Triantafyllakis. Blind on blind the Greek four-bet all-in with K♠J♣, but Panagiotou had re-raised with a genuine hand, pocket kings, and despite a jack on the flop the cowboys held up. The 36-year-old is a serial satellite qualifier on PokerStars so I'm sure this won't be the last of him we see on the Eureka tour.
Perhaps the biggest sweat Panagiotou had in an all-in was against start of final table chip leader Bernd Vogelhuber. On an 8♣T♥6♣ flop he shoved all-in over the top of a Panagiotou c-bet with 9♥8♥, Panagiotou called with pocket queens.
With the monster draw Vogelhuber, a 47-year-old businessman, was actually a 53% favourite, the T♣ turn would prove crucial as it gave Panagiotou two-pair and took away some of Vogelhuber's outs, such as the 9♠ which popped out on the river.
The Cypriot had also won a flip to take care of Mariusz Klosinski in sixth. The Pole's pocket fours started in front of Panagiotou's A♣K♠ but a king on the flop flip-flopped the flip in Panagiotou's favour.
At the start of the final table Bogdan Ionescu was the shortest stack with 435,000. Whilst he outlasted Marcel Buissink, he never got anything going, he was down to 411,000 (just over 10 big blinds) when he moved all-in with pocket fives. Unfortunately for the Romanian, Panagiotou found pocket eights and in chilly Prague, the snowmen refused to melt.
The completion of this Eureka main event also signals the end of the second season of the Eureka Poker Tour. The Eureka Season 2 leader board has been a hard fought contest, but Eureka Croatia champion Alija Filipovic's 39th place finish here in Prague was enough to see him climb to first place. He wins a EPT9 main event seat worth €5,300.
The tour will be back for more, the first event of Season 3 will take place in the Czech Republic in Rozvadov starting on March 18th. The Eureka team also confirmed that the tour will return to Varna, Bulgaria in July and Prague next December.
To catch up with all of today's action, to see who won what here in Prague and for a re-cap of Season 2's other final tables click on the links below. The EPT continues here in Prague, but until March that's in from the Eureka Poker Tour.
All photos are copyright of Tomas Stacha, Rene Velli and Ivan Dabac