EPT Tallinn: Imperious Ronny Kaiser crowned emperor of Estonia and EPT
Ronny Kaiser arrived in Tallinn this week as the Prince ready to claim his inheritance. After a mouth-watering display at the final table today, he claimed just that; Kaiser, the King of EPT Tallinn, the first champion of the EPT's eighth season.
The 21-year-old's coronation was witnessed by a packed rail that had watched a captivating and turbo-charged finale, wrapped up in four-and-a-half hours, bringing a memorable week in Tallinn to a close. If this is a sign of things to come, the next ten months on the tour should prove to be a vintage season.
Kaiser leaves Estonia floating on the acclaim of fellow players and the plaudits of those of us watching from the rail, stalking the leaders until the moment he burst to the front.
The new EPT Tallinn champion, Ronny Kaiser
Kaiser's primary adversary through three days of play was the Polish player Grzegorz Cichocki, who he would finally meet, and destroy, heads-up.
"It's very nice to win. I've been the chip leader for three days but I've got deep before and always finished 20th. This time I thought, 'I should win this.'"
"It was funny," said Kaiser when asked about having Cichocki on his left for the last two days. "We were next to each other for two days but the first big pot that we played was when were heads-up. It wasn't deliberate; we just busted all the other guys. It wasn't a conscious decision to avoid him, I wasn't scared."
Runner-up Grzegorz Cichocki
The speed with which the final was concluded speaks volumes for Kaiser's mastery. He dominated the heads up, which proved nothing short of a battering for the Pole who could only watch as Kaiser took what was rightfully his. The only player since Day 2 to have more chips than Kaiser was Cichocki. It was right that these two met heads-up but ultimately the right man won.
Kaiser played down his achievement, particularly the steam-rollering of his final opponent. "It's strange because we were really deep, but I just won every hand," he said. "I wasn't really bluffing, I just had it every time."
Ronny Kaiser, with trademark hood held across his neck
Ronny Kaiser the new EPT Tallinn champion, and winner of €275,000.
Kaiser had taken the advantage from Day 3 and from there he had no reason to look back, the view from his gilded perch on top of a stack of chips giving him complete command. Instead he used his remarkable focus to hunt down his prize, with a now familiar sleep-till-noon expression and his left hand holding his hood across his neck, presumably to hide any pulsing giveaways.
Kaiser and Cichocki go heads-up
For Cichocki this was all an agonizing near-miss. Having put in a tireless and almost perfect performance, he just happened to run into Kaiser at his most powerful. Against anyone else we may well have been writing about new Polish records tonight - in fact his runner-up spot makes him the highest finishing Pole in EPT history. Alas, the story lies elsewhere.
The day started with a line-up to rival any final table in the world, with Kaiser and Cichocki, Sami Kelopuro and Jani Sointula starting as heavyweights.
The final tablists
Arvi Vainionkulma was first to go. Still bruised from a hand against Cichocki at the bell last night, he got his short stack into the middle in only the second hand of the day, running it into Kaiser, with predictable results.
Kelopuro would follow an hour later, seemingly nonplussed when Kaiser made a straight on the turn to deny 'LarsLuzak' from converting online success into a bricks and mortar foundation.
Kelopuro's exit caught everyone by surprise, not least Erlend Melsom, who got a €10,000 bump before he departed in sixth place.
Sami Kelopuro, in action earlier this week
While Melsom was grateful to Kelopuro, Stuart Fox felt the same way towards Melsom. The Norwegian PokerStars Qualifier busted when his ace-king was rivered by Jani Sointula's ace-queen, all while Fox looked on with two big blinds to his name. Fox had Sointula to thank for his bump in prize money, up to €55,000, which he collected after the very next hand, drawing dead against Kaiser's trip kings.
With four left it seemed Kaiser and Sointula were trying a two-pronged pincer move on the Pole, first Kaiser landing a few jabs, then Sointula. To a certain extent it worked. The unshakable Cichocki was beginning to lose pots, his impressive armoury of orange chips slowly retreating to a rear-guard of blue.
But Cichocki weathered the storm, and began firing back, Sointula taking the full force of it when in what proved a decisive hand, he unlocked Sointula's tournament hopes with a flopped straight. Sointula was watching from the rail within half an hour.
Looking for help, fourth placed Jani Sointula
That left three, including arguably the happiest man in Tallinn. While Kaiser and Cichocki were setting records for Switzerland and Poland, Aasmaa was doing the same for his country, becoming the first Estonian to reach an EPT final. When he departed in third he looked like a man delighted to have won €110,000; his last ditch king-ten was flattened to Cichocki's aces.
The happiest man in Tallin, Raigo Aasmaa
That cleared the way for Kaiser and Cichocki, the result perhaps a foregone conclusion. They may have begun heads up almost even but Kaiser had all the momentum and soon made it pay.
Ronny Kaiser with Sebastian Ruthenberg, Benny Spindler and Severin Walser
The longer version of the day's action can be found at the links below, it really was worth repeating. You can also find today's video blogs, and all the Tallinn videos from the week, on PokerStars.tv.
That's all then from Tallinn, an insta-hit for those of us making a first trip here. Our thanks to the staff of the Swissotel for unbeatable customer service, and for the pretzel sticks.
The European Poker Tour now heads for Barcelona for the second event of the new eighth season, starting on 27 August.
Tallinn, when it's getting dark
Until then, it's good bye from Tallinn.
All photos on PokerStars Blog from Tallinn are ©Neil Stoddart/PokerStars.