EPT9 Berlin: Daniel Pidun makes it a first for Germany, winning title and €880,000
And so we got the happily-ever-after. Despite fears of a flat-lining finale, removed from the excitement and drama of typically high-profiled contests, EPT Berlin wrapped up in short-and-sweet style, a final table to remember, albeit with a penultimate day most would prefer to forget.
There was the expectation of a quick conclusion, but before it wrapped up there was time to devour some key hands, marvel at the dominance of the Germans, and celebrate the victor, Daniel Pidun, the first German winner to win an EPT in the capital, who collects $880,000 and a Slyde watch worth €5,000 from luxury Swiss brand Slyde, the Official Watch Sponsor for EPT9 Main Events.
EPT Berlin winner Daniel Pidun
Pidun polished off the final with stereotypical German efficiency, having assumed the lead after the first hour of play and winning it all inside of six. It may not have been the most stylish performance, but it was one played with confidence, remarkable for a player who still considers himself an amateur player.
Pidun in good shape
In fact Pidun could be considered an EPT Berlin specialist. He plays this single event each year, taking a week off work from his mobile phone parts business that he runs with his brother. It's a tradition that has proved one of the most profitable of his life, given his knack for going deep: ninth place in 2011, 17th place in 2012 and now the title.
"I don't know, it seems to be my city," said Pidun when asked to explain his incredible form in the German capital. "But I'm very happy. It's a dream come true."
Pidun was one of five Germans at the final table, a dominance matched only by French players in Deauville earlier this season. But more significant than nationality were the blinds. The previous day's midnight finish determined the nature of today. Only two of the eight finalists had more than 40 big blinds - Pidun and eventual runner-up Robert Haigh.
All smiles: Robert Haigh
Haigh was arguably the most experienced of the final eight and his second place finish moves him into second place on the Player of the Year leader board, now sitting just 305 points behind leader Jan Bendik with only the Grand Final to come.
Haigh kept pace with Pidun for much of the early stages, in front of a partisan crowd, but soon found himself permanently playing catch-up. When the pair went heads-up the distance between them was practically insurmountable, a ten-to-one lead, allowing Pidun to sweep things up in quick time.
Ironically, it had been a slow start.
Roman Korenev would depart in eight place. He'd allowed Pascal Vos to double up and soon had his pocket jacks undone by a back door flush. Julian Thomas, who had moved in uncontested on the first hand of the day, went next, out in seventh after a three-way hand against Haigh and Roman Herold.
By now Pidun had assumed the lead, taking further pots from Herold and Haigh to breach the ten million chip mark. Herold, reduced to a handful of blinds, went out in sixth, ace-jack against Helbig's pocket threes. Then Helbig followed in fifth place, his pocket fives thwarted by Pidun's pocket eights. Pidun was now up to more than 13 million.
Haigh began to slip back further as Pidun unleashed his stack in all directions, including that of short stack Vos who, after a heroic rear-guard, fell in fourth place with ace-seven against Pidun's ace-queen.
Now the writing was on the wall. Pidun had amassed more than 20 million against Haigh's 4.8 million and Lasse Frost's 2.3 million. But the most dramatic hand was yet to come, one that would send Frost to the rail and catapult Pidun towards the title.
Haigh opened to 400,000 before Frost shoved for 1.5 million. Pidun simply called for a 5♠8♦K♣ flop and then check-called 400,000 from Haigh for a 3♣ turn. Again Pidun check-called, this time Haigh's 1,500,000 bet, but on the J♣ river he set him all-in.
Haigh in action
Haigh managed a smile, but he knew he was beaten, not just in the hand but in the tournament itself. He folded and Pidun showed an unlikely flush with easily thawed Frost's T♥9♥. Haigh was left with no option but the unenviable task of a comeback to rival any in poker's history.
Alas the history books will remain firmly shut. Haigh's stack peaked at 13 big blinds, then slipped to fewer than ten. He managed a double-up with ace-four but that only brought him back to 12 big blinds. He was down to fewer than ten when he found ace-king and shoved. Pidun found nine-eight of spades and called, hitting an eight on the flop. It was all over.
1st. Daniel Pidun - €880,000
2nd. Robert Haigh - €531,000
3rd. Lasse Frost - €325,000
4th. Pascal Vos - €255,000
5th. Alexander Helbig - €202,200
6th. Roman Herold - €155,000
7th. Julian Thomas - €110,000
8th. Roman Korenev - €77,000
It brings an end to the EPT Berlin festival, the penultimate leg of the European Poker Tour's ninth season. Now only the Grand Final remains, starting a week tomorrow in Monte Carlo, where any remaining loose ends will be tied up on one of the best seasons the tour has ever had.
The main event was not the only action today, with the high roller final table, playing to a conclusion, details of which you can find on the high roller coverage page page, including live updates and features. You can also catch up on all that took place today by clicking here, where you'll find details of all the pay-outs from EPT Berlin.
Now we look ahead to Monte Carlo a week away - ten days of wall to wall poker and a Grand Final champion to boot. See you there.
Stephen Bartley is a PokerStars Blog reporter.