EPT11 Prague: Andrey "Kroko-dill" Zaichenko wins epic High Roller

There was a moment tonight when it seemed the EPT Prague Festival didn't want to end. With a handful of players left in action in the Congress Hall, none seemed capable of being eliminated. Instead a flurry of all-ins were roundly rewarded with double-ups, hands that kept the game going even the hardiest of poker enthusiast had made their way to bed, or at least the bar.

But all good things must come to an end, even the record breaking €10,000 High Roller event won tonight by Andrey Zaichenko, who collected a first prize of €487,180 and a SLYDE watch.

Andrey_Zaichenko_wrap.jpgEPT Prague High Roller champion Andrey Zaichenko

Zaichenko's victory came many hours after the Main Event--which many predicted would outlast the high roller--had been won, packed up and celebrated. While this one may not may not have captured the attention of those left in Prague (friends, backers, and the Hilton night shift), it did its job in demonstrating what the high rollers do best.

It was no easy contest. A deal may have removed most of the jeopardy, but neither player looked likely to throw in the towel. Zaichenko, familiar to online players as "Kroko-dill," had the heads-up lead, but Levinskas worked hard to level the scores. The expression "You Will Not Out-Work Me" stenciled on his hat and t-shirt was never as true.

Laurynas_Levinskas_wrap.jpgRunner up Laurynas Levinskas

But just as it appeared Zaichenko was beaten, a river card flipped everything upside down, bringing him back to all-square. From that point on it seemed a fairly straight forward job of bulldozing by the Russian who slugged away until he found a pair of threes and shoved. Levinskas found nines and called. It was over by the three on the turn.

Zaichenko congratulated his opponent at the bell, the long day now at an end. For Zaichenko, an established pro with a strong of final tables but no wins, it was a breakthrough moment.

"I've made many final tables," said Zaichenko. "This was good, but not enough for me. Now I've got a result."

It ended a day that had started more than 14 hours prior. Play had resumed at noon today with 23 players, a field that, in the early stages at least, didn't take long to thin.

Martin Finger was out first, dispatched by Ole Schemion, while Erwann Pecheaux followed him thanks to the ace-three of Viacheslav Goryachev. Pecheaux had shoved with ace-king, but the flop had been unkind.

Jonathan Little followed in 20th, his ace-three undone by the seven-nine of Jonathan Ivarsson which flopped better. Ari Engel departed in 19th, and Henrik Hecklen in 18th, before Marvin Rettenmaier went next. Both Rettenmeier and Engel had been sent to the rail by Zaichenko, already a swaggering presence at the table, who would quickly deliver the same fate to Simon Ravnsbaek.

The departure of Igor Yaroshevskyy and Anton Astapau precluded a series of double ups in which seemingly everyone swapped chips with someone, although not enough in the case of Senh Man Ung, who shoved with king-ten from the cut-off but was sent to the rail by Clavio Anzalone's ace-king in 13th place.

Alexander Ivarsson quickly followed before Roman Emelyanov did the same in 11th place owing to a weak ace. When EPT Vienna winner Oleksii Khoroshenin busted in tenth place thanks to Simon Deadman, play finally reached if not the final table, then at least the last.

1. Laurynas Levinskas (Lithuania)
2. Dan Shak (United States)
3. Viacheslav Goryachev (Russia)
4. Simon Deadman (United Kingdom)
5. Andrey Zaichenko (Russia)
6. Ole Schemion (Germany)
7. Joao Vieira (Portugal)
8. Clavio Anzalone (Italy)
9. Francois Billard (Canada)

Dan Shak would depart in ninth place, ending his Prague Festival in the same way he started it, with a final table appearance. Newcomer Calvio Anzalone busted next, getting stuck between Zaichenko and Schemion, both of whom called his pre-flop shove with ace-queen. Schemion stepped aside when Zaichenko's raised. The Russian showed ten-jack off-suit, making a club flush on the river.

Zaichenko would continue to gather chips while Schemion began to lose them, notably in pots again Billard and Gorychev before the dinner break.

Andrey_Zaichenko_16dec14.jpgAndrey Zaichenko

It would be sometime before the next elimination, one delivered by Schemion, whose jack-eight contained a heart which went well with the four on the board to send Joao Vieira home.

The pause had done something to the German, who as well as dispatching the Portuguese managed to triple up as well, putting new life into his high roller campaign. But it was to be short-lived. Schemion would be next out in sixth place, fist-bumping the tournament director before making his way, headband on, towards the pay-out desk.

ole_schemion_ept11pra_hrft.jpgOle Schemion out in sixth

By this stage it was little known Laurynas Levinkas in front, more than a million chips ahead of Zaichenko.

At this point Simon Deadman had the shortest stack, and while he doubled through Zaichenko the Russian would finally see him off in fourth place, when Deadman ran ace-eight into Zaichenko's pocket eights.

simon_deadman_ept11pra_16dec14.jpgFourth place for Simon Deadman

Three handed Zaichenko held the lead with 6.4 million to the 4.7m and 4.3m of Levinskas and Billard. But with the big blind at 160,000, things were still tight and a deal was drafted, leaving €40,000 in the middle.

Francois_Billard_wrap.jpgFrancois Billard out in third

It was Billard who would end the day in third place, leaving Zaichenko and Levinskas to the last heads-up contest of the festival, one that would enthrall and exhaust in equal measure.

Congratulations to Andrey Zaichenko on a memorable win. Now on to the PCA.

EPT11 Prague, €10,000 NL Hold 'em High Roller Event
Entries: 309
Places paid: 39
Prize pool: €3,028,200

1. Andrey Zaichenko (Russia) €€487,180*
2. Laurynas Levinskas (Lithuania) €412,905*
3. Francois Billard (Canada) €405,260*
4. Simon Deadman (United Kingdom) €238,320
5. Viacheslav Goryachev (Russia) €186,840
6. Ole Schemion (Germany) 141,420
7. Joao Vieira (Portugal) €103,870
8. Clavio Anzalone (Italy) €76,310
* denotes three-way deal.

Stephen Bartley is a staff writer for the PokerStars Blog.
Stephen Bartley
@StephenBartley in High Roller