EPT12 Prague: Kenneth Smaron wins High Roller and €595,500

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Kenneth Smaron: High Roller champion!

At a final table containing one of the best live tournament players in the world, one of the best online cash game players ever and a player going for his second EPT High Roller title, it was a high stakes hyper-turbo sit and go specialist who triumphed over them all.

Today here in Prague, Kenneth "kenny05" Smaron scored by far the biggest live result of his career, winning the €10,000 High Roller title and €595,500.

"I'm exhausted," said the American, who currently lives in Costa Rica, at the conclusion of the final table.

They say you need luck to win a poker tournament and for much of the latter stages of the final table it looked as if bad luck would be the downfall of Smaron. With four players left a huge three-way pot in which he held aces against Ihar Soika's queens and Felix Bleiker's A♥J♠ ended in Smaron and Bleiker chopping Soika's chips as both made a straight.

But Smaron regrouped and by the time heads-up play began Smaron had a 13,605,000 to 2,145,000 lead over Jaroslaw Sikora. It didn't take long to seal the deal. Sikora pushed all-in for around 12 big blinds with K♦J♦ and Smaron made the call with A♦6♣. A 4♦7♣6♥4♥7♦ board later and Smaron was the champion.

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Second place for Sikora

"I always thought it (a live tournament victory) would come, I'm confident in my game," he said. "I grinded and finally had my day.

It's a nice early Christmas present too. He celebrates his birthday on December 25th. "I'm heading back to see my family," he said. "I don't get to see them that often."

He's going back with an EPT trophy too and it wraps a great poker year for Smaron, who won a SCOOP title back in May.

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Kenneth Smaron - EPT High Roller champion

When the final table began, Vanessa Selbst was the short stack and the Team PokerStars Pro would indeed fall in eighth place. She shoved once and got it through, but the second time she shoved (for about 15 big blinds) she got a call from Bleiker.

Shortly afterwards Rocco Palumbo became the second player to exit the final table. Bleiker didn't deal the final blow this time, but he did take most of Palumbo's chips. On a J♥A♠K♣6♦A♥ board Palumbo check-called bets of 115,000, 165,000 and 500,000 with ace-queen but lost out to Bleiker's A♣J♣ in a cooler of a hand. That left the Italian with fewer than four big blinds and he was eliminated by Daniel Cates on the very next hand.

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Palumbo - a great effort from the Italian

Despite knocking out Palumbo, the man they call Jungleman was the shortest of the remaining stacks. The American had already won one event here in Prague (the €5,000 8-game event) but couldn't make it two for the trip. He got one double up, with A♠3♥ against Iliodoros Kamatakis's Q♣4♥ but that still left him relatively short with around 16 big blinds.

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Jungleman's adventure ended in sixth place

The blinds had gone up by the time he moved all in from the button with Q♦T♣. Kamatakis, who had pocket sevens, re-raised allin from the small blind only for Bleiker to snap call from the big blind with pocket kings.

Just as yesterday in the Main Event, where kings held up in a four way all-in, nobody could shoot the cowboys down in this one as the 8♦5♠Q♣2♠4♠ board meant Cates was out in sixth. Kamatakis dropped to 11 big blinds as Bleiker won a huge 5,600,000 chip pot.

There was barely time to blink before six hand become five. Kamatakis was the chip leader at the start of the final table but his roller-coaster ride would end with a fifth-placed finish. While it's likely not the pay day he wanted, the €180,890 he collected for his performance is more than three times his previous biggest cash.

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Out in fifth, but his best result to date

On his exit hand, the Greek player three-bet all in for slightly less than 14 big blinds with pocket eights and Sikora, who was the original raiser, thought for a while before calling with K♠Q♦. The pair was a 54 percent favourite but the poker gods had other ideas as the 6♦5♣Q♣Q♠A♥ dispatched him in fifth.

The name Ihar Soika might not yet be in the league of Selbst or Cates, but this man is a high roller beast on the EPT. He beat out a field of almost 400 to win the EPT11 Barcelona High Roller and in Malta two months ago he finished fourth in the €10,000 High Roller earning €165,800.

Another of the massive multi-way all ins, that have become common place here in Prague, meant he'd have to settle for fourth again. After he min-raised to 200,000, Smaron three-bet to 475,000, Bleiker then shoved for 2,360,000, Soika re-shoved for around 2,000,000 and Smaron, who covered both, called all-in as well!

Smaron A♣A♥
Soika: Q♥Q♠
Bleiker: A♥J♠

Smaron looked set to score a double knock out but, as mentioned, the K♣3♥5♦2♣4♠ board gave both Samron and Bleiker a straight. Had Samron won that hand he and Sikora would've been heads-up with damn near even chip stacks. As it was Sikora held the lead at this point with 7,900,000 (79 big blinds), Smaron had 4,600,000 (46 big blinds) and the miracle river card meant Bleiker had escaped with 3,250,000 (32.5 big blinds).

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Soika was eliminated in a crazy hand

Three-handed it was Smaron and Sikora who were playing most of the meaningful pots. Smaron doubled through Sikora when he flopped a set of sevens and Sikora check-raised all in with K♥T♠ on the turn of a 6♣7♠T♥5♣ board. That pot was worth 7,000,000 and gave Smaron a slender lead but the two would trade it back and forth.

While they were doing that, Bleiker was getting short and once again he was saved on the river when all looked lost. He was down to nine big blinds when he shoved from the small blind with A♦5♠ only to run into the dominating A♣8♦ of Sikora. A J♥2♦9♣3♣5♥ board meant the Swiss player survived.

He couldn't complete the hat-trick though. The third time he shoved he held K♥3♥ and was in bad shape as Smaron had him dominated with A♥3♦. He'd got out of jail before of course, but not this time as the 3♣6♣8♣T♥T♠ board sent him to the rail in third place. The €283,550 prize is the best result of Bleiker's career though, bettering the €130,000 he received for finishing sixth in the WSOP-E Main Event this year.

That's all she wrote from the EPT12 Prague High Roller, a reminder of the final table results can be seen below. Be sure to join us for the PCA, which starts January 6th.

EPT12 Prague €10,000 High Roller
Entries: 315 (252 unique entries and 63 re-entries)
Prizepool: €3,055,500
Places paid: 47

1st. Kenneth Smaron, USA, €595,500
2nd. Jaroslaw Sikora, Poland, €378,280
3rd. Felix Bleiker, Switzerland, €283,550
4th. Ihar Soika, Belarus, €229,470
5th. Iliodoros Kamatakis, Greece, €180,890
6th. Daniel Cates, USA, €138,110
7th. Rocco Palumbo, Italy, €101,440
8th. Vanessa Selbst, USA, Team PokerStars Pro, €74,550

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Nick Wright
@PokerStars in European Poker Tour