EPT11 Prague: Leonid Markin's late gamble sends him to final chip-lead

Mid-way through the afternoon at the EPT Prague Poker Festival today, the tournament organisers released details of the prize pool for the €50,000 Super High Roller event. It was established that the winner of the first such high buy in tournament to be played in the Czech capital would take home €771,360. Nice.

It was also made known at the same time that the player eliminated in seventh would win €128,565, but the man out in eighth would get nothing. It meant that as the starting field from today - 35 returning from a total 41, with ten re-entries -- reduced to its final 11 or 12, pots were being played for six-figure, real life sums. It wasn't for the faint hearted.

One such pot emerged with nine players left between two of the biggest-stacked players at the table. Steven Chidwick, with A♣Q♠ hit a flop of Q♣Q♥5♥ pretty hard. Leonid Markin, however, found reason to shove all in for close to two million chips - a sum that would be greater than average at the final. He had 8♥9♥. Chidwick didn't hang around very long before calling, but it was the Russian who would come out on the right side of the flip when the 3♥ hit the river.

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Leonid Markin: Chip leader

It meant that tomorrow, when the Super High Rollers reconvene to play to their champion, Markin has clear air between him and the rest of the field. He is in the box seat with 3,350,000, the second time at consecutive EPT festivals that Markin will take the lead into a final. He did the same in the High Roller in London in October. Chidwick, meanwhile, has the second shortest stack.

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Stephen Chidwick: If looks could kill

In truth, having lost that enormous pot to Markin, Chidwick will probably be very happy indeed still to be in the race. He needed to hang in there as first Mustapha Kanit surrendered his short stack to go out in ninth and then Martin Jacobson went out on the stone bubble. Brian Roberts was also clinging on by the skin of his teeth.

As you would expect for a tournament of this size, the winner is going to have to prevail from a super tough final table, and any event that can knock out the newly-crowned World Champion on the bubble is never going to respect reputations.

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Martin Jacobson: It'll take more than one bubble to wipe the smile away

Here are the final table players, who will play down to a winner tomorrow:

Seat 1 - Stephen Chidwick, UK, 660,000
Seat 2 - Paul Newey, UK, 1,510,000
Seat 3 - Juha Helppi, Finland, 2,030,000
Seat 4 - Ivan Soshnikov, Russia, 1,925,000
Seat 5 - Brian Roberts, USA, 275,000
Seat 6 - Leonid Markin, Russia, 3,350,000
Seat 7 - Vladimir Troyanovskiy, Russia, 3,000,000

There are some lovely emerging sub-plots to the action in this event. Soshnikov, who won the High Roller tournament in this room last year, is the reigning SCOOP-H Main Event champion and beat Jacobson into fifth in that online flagship event. They were reunited today, and Soshnikov again has gone further.

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Ivan Soshnikov: Another deep run in Prague

Meanwhile Newey, who broke his duck in High Roller events at the PCA in January, has now bookended his year with a debut cash in an EPT Super High Roller tournament. With a One Drop cash in the summer, this is turning out to be the year when the former finance whizz fully transitioned into capable poker pro.

Chidwick made two final tables in major events here in Prague last season -- the Eureka Main Event and the EPT Main Event, finishing third in both. He is now at yet another final in this city, and is further cementing a reputation as one of the best tournament players both online and off.

And then there's the Russians. Three of them. All with chips. It's going to take a major upset to stop the title heading east from here.

Play begins at noon at right about the same time that the Eureka Main Event is beginning its final day and the EPT Main Event gets started. All of the action is on the EPT Prague Poker Festival page.

Howard Swains
@howardswains in European Poker Tour