Vadzim Kursevich takes EPT Deauville title after marathon finale
The final table of EPT Deauville promised so much. In the end it delivered on some of what we'd hoped for, but for much of the eleven-and-a-half-hours this day took it became a tactical duel, riddled with a mixture of caution and patience. For eventual winner Vadzim Kursevich it was patience that won through, but only just, making him the latest EPT champion and €875,000 richer.
Kursevich faced Paul Guichard heads-up, the two players who had led coming into the final. But that didn't go any way near far enough to account for the day; a marathon session which ultimately crowned one of the two best players on the day, for the reality was this title could have gone either way.
Kursevich had held a massive lead going into the heads-up, 23 million to 3 million, which left Guichard looking for a dose of luck. He got it - twice - as good as levelling the scores to set up a dynamite last hand that seemed to run contrary to everything that had come before it for excitement, Kursevich's flush and double-gutshot draw, against Guichard's flopped set, filling on the river, sending the Belorussian's friends into rapture, and the strong French rail into silence.
Kursevich and friends
He must have thought he'd let it out of his grasp, but Vadzim Kursevich becomes the new EPT Deauville champion.
"I can't really believe it," said Kursevich. "It's like a dream. A lot of times, you finish 28th, fifth, even second - and you think 'What do I have to do to be the champion' but when you are, it's the best feeling in the world."
The final result:
1st. Vadzim Kursevich, Belarus, €875,000
2nd. Paul Guichard, France, €557,000
3rd. Vuong Than Trong, France, €328,000
4th. Yorane Kerignard, France, €260,000
5th. Bruno Jais, France, €200,000
6th. Olivier Rogez, France, €155,000
7th. Luca Pagano, Italy, Team PokerStars Pro, €110,000
8th. Mick Graydon, Ireland, €67,200
For those who follow European poker closely the story at the start of today centred around Luca Pagano, whose result today takes him back to the top of the EPT Tournament Leader Board. The Team PokerStars Pro was playing his seventh EPT final table, recording his 20th cash. But once more the Italian would fall at the last hurdle.
Earlier in the week Pagano had been pragmatic. It wouldn't matter, he said, if that elusive first EPT win didn't happen this time round. He would simply try again at the one next and the one after that. And he will.
But the look on his face as he tried to escape through the elasticated rail which stubbornly got in his way as he tried to escape the scene, suggested that, at least in a small way, this mattered so much more, certainly more than to stop the now repetitive question "how long until Luca Pagano wins an EPT?"
Pagano's departure was the last for some time, following the exit of short stacked Irishman Mick Graydon. The sun had gone down and some suggested Pagano would have been back in Italy before Olivier Rogez busted in sixth more than three hours later.
Rogez had counted his winning a seat to Deauville as his greatest achievement as a player, but he topped that by some way today. His departure may not have had the flash bang of his story, coming as it did with a muffled whimper - all in with only a big blind - but nonetheless his achievement should be read as inspiration to others.
Bruno Jais had his own backstory, miss-clicking on a €500 satellite when really he'd only wanted to play a €10 MTT. The mistake left him with only a Euro in his PokerStars account. He can use some of the €200,000 he collected for fifth place to top that up.
After the dinner break the final four returned. It had taken eight-and-a-half hours to reach this stage and just as spectators dug in for another long session they were brought to life by a clash of the big stacks, Kursevich doubling through Trong with pocket kings against the Frenchman's ace-queen. It left Trong with four big blinds while arming Kursevich with the firepower he needed to seal his first title.
Trong would double through Kerignard leaving the San Remo finalist crippled and soon on his way to the rail. Kerignard is an obviously talented player with the talent to prove he can perform at the highest level. He did so this week. This was his second EPT final. Expect more.
For Trong and Guichard the task was simple. Somehow get the better of Kursevich who's stack towered over the others. France always does things a little differently and the appearance of 100,000 plaques was a novelty not seen before. A novelty for Kursevich perhaps. By the time it was three-handed the Belorusian has possession of all of them.
Vuong Than Trong
Trong and Guichard's old fashioned disk-shaped chips were no match. Trong made his inevitable move, but fell in third. Trong had looked like a winner for much of the afternoon, fitting the photo-fit required - young, aggression, intelligent and talented. On another day this title would be his, just not today. Kursevich, a former WCOOP main event finalist, became the first Belorusian to win an event on the tour. As Guichard found out a few moments later, despite something of a comeback, he was simply unstoppable.
Read back through all the posts from today at the links below, while the live coverage can be found here.
That brings another leg of the European Poker Tour to a close, another champion to grace the record books. The tour now packs up its gear and sets a course for Denmark where Copenhagen hosts the next leg of Season 8. As usual you'll be able to follow all the action, on and off the tables, right here on the PokerStars Blog, starting 20 February.
Until then, thanks for following our coverage from Deauville. For now, it's goodnight.
All photography © Neil Stoddart