EPT12 Malta: Pahuja and Kaverman remain in quest to become High Roller champ

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Pahuja & Kaverman the last two standing

Mukul Pahuja and Byron Kaverman, two of the most talented players from North America are the last two men standing in their quest to win the last big, prestigious title of the EPT12 Malta festival. Below is the story of how they got to heads up.

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Kenney & MacPhee were the first to go

Kevin MacPhee entered the final as the shortest stack with fewer that 15 big blinds and bust on the very first hand. He found pocket fives, moved all in but ran into Mukul Pahuja and his pocket tens that found a friend in the door. Bryn Kenney had just over an ante more than MacPhee and he was eliminated three hands later. He found king-jack on the button and made his move but Ihar Soika found ace-king in the next seat and survived the board.

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Successful EPT return for Romanello

Roberto Romanello, who took a whole year off poker before the WSOP this summer, showed that class never leaves you by making a deep run in the High Roller. His fun ride came to an end in sixth though after he lost a race to Pahuja. The Welshman three-bet all in for fewer than 21 big blinds with pocket sixes after his opponent had opened with ace-ten. A ten appeared on the flop and that was all she wrote.

A northern European battle broke out between Mikalai Vaskaboinikau and Vladimir Dobrovolskiy soon after and it ended in defeat for latter. The two of them got their chips in on an A♣8♣7♦ flop with Vaskaboinikau at risk with ace-queen to Dobrovolskiy's ace-eight. Vaskaboinikau screamed and banged the table in delight after the river queen saved him and he came from behind to finish him off a while later. Dobrovolskiy three-bet all in with ace-jack and was called by Vaskaboinikau who went on to make two pair with ace-ten.

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Ihar Soika (right) after busting

The final four came down to a battle between two Americans and two Belarusians, a country emerging as a force in European poker. Pahuja extended his lead considerably and scored one for the (United) States by taking care of Ihar Soika in fourth place. The latter completed from the small blind and Pahuja checked his option from the big blind. Soika check-raised Pahuja who was going nowhere and the turn was the Q♥. Soika led and Pahuja called to the 4♠ river where Soika shoved after thinking for several minutes. Pahuja called quickly with Q♦7♦ for a turned two pair which was enough to beat Soika who had flopped a lower two pair with 7♠3♠.

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Mikalai Vaskaboinikau eliminated in third

Vaskaboinikau spent much of the next period asking Pahuja to discuss a deal but he wasn't interested and actually started to get annoyed at the constant requests, to the point where he started to get angry and made a specific request that he stop asking. Soon, he didn't have to worry about Vaskaboinikau as he coolered him and sent him home in third place. Pahuja raised to 125,000 from the button and snap called when Vaskaboinikau three-bet shoved for 2.1 million from the small blind with ace-queen. Pahuja opened a dominating ace-king and the board ran ten high.

Pahuja took a near four-to-one chip lead heading into the heads up battle. A wrap of the day and the story of the heads up battle will appear in a new post.

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Marc Convey
@The_Conv in European Poker Tour