Elder flowers to win EPT San Remo and €930,000
The European Poker Tour main event in San Remo came to a close in typically glittering style this afternoon, when Englishman Rupert Elder defeated Max Heinzelmann to the title, a first prize of €930,000, a place in the Champion of Champions event, and a gold bracelet worth €16,200, from official EPT sponsor Shamballa Jewels.
EPT7 San Remo champion Rupert Elder
That's the short version of an incredible day in the theatre of Casino San Remo. Former winners Jason Mercier, Constant Rijkenberg and Liv Boeree had each won in memorable fashion, with elan and no shortage of drama. Elder's success was no different.
The final table in action
It came in a final table top heavy with talent, specifically the final four of Elder and Heinzelmann, as well as Xuan Liu and Team PokerStars Pro Max Lykov, all of whom had something to prove.
For Lykov it was the chance to become the EPT's first double winner. Alas, Lykov, who won EPT Kyiv in Season 6, fell short in fourth place, closing the still empty record book after being sent to the rail by a combination of Liu and bad luck; the Canadian's tens turning a set to dethrone Lykov's kings.
For Liu, San Remo was about making her live tournament entrance, and EPT history was on her side. When female players reach the final table they tend to win (just ask Boree, Naujoks and Coren), but despite the performance of her career so far, the 25-year-old, another graduate of the Waterloo University poker anomaly, was eliminated in third place, herself the victim of bad luck when her ace-jack was out flopped by Elder's ace-seven.
In a strange twist, Heinzelmann was lumbered with his double, finishing as EPT runner-up for the second consecutive event, a result that this week earned him €600,000, adding up to €1,000,000 since Berlin. It's almost a unique achievement, one already recorded by Martin Jacobson this season. But that makes it an exclusive one, the domain of only the unquestionably talented. For Heinzelmann; reputation secured.
The day had not begun in such dramatic fashion and more than an hour of pedestrian play had elapsed before former chip leader Roberto Spada, from Italy, busted in eighth. His countryman Costantino Russo followed more than an hour later in seventh, sent there by the ace-queen of Liu.
Russo's elimination marked the first of a flurry of departures that would rid the main event of its entire Italian cast. Four minutes after Russo, Massimiliano Manigrasso was gone, then Francesco de Vivo, himself a former runner-up, went in fifth.
The rest was wrapped up in three hours, a final four to rival that of the tour's first visit here, and a week that did the same. The week now belongs to Rupert Elder, the fourth British winner of the season, following Toby Lewis, David Vamplew and Roberto Romanello.
The half an hour of heads-up play flipped the lead between him and Heinzelmann, the German reining in Elder's two-to-one lead at one stage, only to fall back to where he'd started in a memorable hand in which the German flopped the nuts, only for Elder's bottom set to reach full house status by the river.
Elder watches the last hand play out
In an event often punctuated by shameless self-promotion and witless celebration, Elder was always gracious, typically so in victory, when he turned to tournament director Thomas Kremser to say: "I think he played better than me heads-up."
Both players had an easy, genuine respect toward each other, having shared dinner several times this week. It not only made for an entertaining finale, but a feel-good one too, one that made those watching the beneficiaries; all of which you can find in its entirely, by clicking through the links below...
It brings a great week of poker to an end in San Remo, one of bravado, bunting and Shamballa Jewels, the pre-cursor to what should be the biggest show in world poker when the Season 7 EPT Grand Final begins in Madrid, Spain, this weekend.
Our thanks to all those involved in the blog this week, including our foreign language bloggers working in German, Dutch and Italian, as well as our photographer Neil Stoddart for all the copyrighted images used this week.
Just an ordinary evening in San Remo
The EPT now takes a 24-hour break before the EPT Grand Final high roller event begins on Thursday. It should be fantastic, followed by the main event and then that much vaunted Champion of Champions event a week on Friday.
We'll be there for all of it. Until then though, we'll be taking a short break to wash clothes and remind loved ones what we look like. Then it's back on a plane to Madrid.
See you there.