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Home / Poker / 8 hands that led Padraig O’Neill to the EPT Prague title

On Sunday, December 17, 2023, Padraig O’Neill took down the European Poker Tour (EPT) Prague Main Event for €1,030,000.

If you missed it, believe us when we say that this five-handed final table was as wild and swingy as any EPT event we’ve covered. Needless to say, we could have picked 50 hands to put under the microscope. But for your sake (and ours), we’ve narrowed it down.

Here are the eight most crucial hands from the final table that led O’Neill to victory.

THE COMEBACK BEGINS

Level 29 : Blinds 50,000/100,000, 100,000 ante

If you only tuned in to the last few levels of this tournament, you’d never have guessed that Padraig O’Neill entered the five-handed final day as the shortest stack – by a considerable margin.

The Irishman started the day with just 1.25 million – or 12 big blinds. To put that into context, chip leader Jon Kyte began with 22.895 million – almost 70 per cent of the chips in play.

So O’Neill had to get the ball rolling early, and he found some excellent spots to do so. His comeback began in the opening level.

O’Neill opened to 200,000 under the gun with JJ and it folded to the last remaining hometown hero, Adam Wagner, in the big blind. He moved all in with his short stack of 2.315 million holding 22 – a hand that prefers to just call and set-mine in this particular spot. Still, it was a gutsy move and might have worked had O’Neill not been as strong.

With pocket jacks, however, he quickly called and was ahead but at risk.

A safe runout of 4K37Q secured him the double up though and Wagner became the table shorty, giving O’Neill some breathing room.

HITS A TWO-OUTER

Level 30 : Blinds 60,000/120,000, 120,000 ante

Padraig O’Neill found another double-up in the next level, although he’d have to hit a two-outer to survive.

In the hand prior, chip leader Jon Kyte had opened under the gun with Q10 and O’Neill moved all in for 1.65 million from the big blind with A8 when it folded to him. He recognised that with such a large lead, Kyte’s opening range was incredibly wide and that a middling suited ace was likely good enough to get the job done. Kyte folded.

O’Neill got the perfect start

Onto the next hand and now O’Neill and Kyte were in the blinds. O’Neill picked up 44 and ripped in his 2.1 million stack only for Kyte to wake up with AK. Time to race.

Kyte – as he’d done so often throughout the last three days of this event – smashed the flop, which fell K75. O’Neill’s chances were slim.

But with the 4 turn he hit one of his two outs to retake the lead. Kyte could still hit a heart to win, mind, but the 7 river was safe, giving O’Neill a full house.

With that, O’Neill moved up to 4.33 million. 

AND THEN THERE WERE FOUR

Level 30 : Blinds 60,000/120,000, 120,000 ante

It’s always nice to see an opponent bust while you ladder up the payjumps when there’s an enormous chip leader at the final table. But to be the one who eliminates the player and adds their chips to your stack? That’s ideal.

And that’s what happened for Padraig O’Neill later that same level.

Adam Wagner picked up A5 on the button and made a standard shove for his last 1.66 million. O’Neill then peeled 1010 from the small blind and shoved over the top, forcing Jon Kyte to fold his big blind.

Wagner picked up a wheel draw on the 842 flop, giving him aces and threes as outs. But the J turn and Q river changed nothing and Wagner departed in fifth for €271,660.

Wagner says his goodbyes

O’Neill increased his stack to 5.39 million, putting him second in chips behind Kyte.

O’NEILL COMES ALIVE

Level 30 : Blinds 60,000/120,000, 120,000 ante

Padraig O’Neill’s play on this final day truly stepped up a gear in this next hand.

Action folded to Cheng Zhao in the small blind and he raised to 250,000 with the enticing J10. O’Neill defended his big blind with A3 and the flop fell 1052, giving Zhao top pair and O’Neill a wheel draw.

Zhao continued for 400,000 and O’Neill stuck around to see the 5 turn. Zhao continued his aggression with a bet of 600,000 and again O’Neill didn’t budge.

The 8 river proved to be the action card – not for how it improved O’Neill’s actual hand, but for how it improved many hands in O’Neill’s range.

Zhao fired a third bullet worth 825,000, leaving himself 2 million behind. “I was not expecting three streets from this hand,” said commentator Nick Walsh.

O’Neill had completely whiffed this board, but he held a pivotal card: the A. He would play all of his suited A combos this way, so he could certainly represent the nut flush. He could also represent a five.

An incredible play from O’Neill

“This would be unbelievable,” said Walsh. “Can you imagine making this move on the final table? If he pulls the trigger here I would be so unbelievably impressed.”

And he did. O’Neill used a time bank card before setting Zhao all in. He gave it some thought but laid it down.

“Hell of a play,” said Joe Stapleton. “The real-deal O’Neill.”

“Play of the tournament for me,” added Walsh.

ANOTHER ELIMINATION

Level 33 : Blinds 125,000/250,000, 250,000 ante

It was Padraig O’Neill who took this tournament down to its lengthy heads-up battle.

Umberto Ruggeri limped the small blind with 109 only for O’Neill to bump it up to 700,000 in the big with KQ. Ruggeri couldn’t resist such an attractive hand and shoved for just over 4 million. O’Neill – who by this point held a big chip lead – made the call.

The A106 flop and 4 turn were safe for Ruggeri, but his tournament came to an end with the K river. 

O’Neill sees off Ruggeri

With that, O’Neill increased to 31 million and was heads-up against Jon Kyte, who had 7.37 million.

O’NEILL DOUBLES

Level 36 : Blinds 250,000/500,000, 500,000 ante

Yep, you read that header right. How did Padraig O’Neill go from having a 4.5:1 chip advantage to requiring a double up?

Well, as mentioned, this final table was wild and swingy, especially during the final duel. The chip lead switched between Jon Kyte and O’Neill many times, and when this hand took place it was Kyte out in front.

What an event for Jon Kyte

He raised it to 1 million with J8 and O’Neill called from the big blind with the dominating KJ. Both hit top pair on the J32 flop and so it wasn’t surprising to see things kick off right away.

Kyte made an 800,000 continuation bet and O’Neill check-raised to 2.3 million. Kyte naturally called and the 3 hit the turn. O’Neill fired another 3 million which was called before the 10 completed the board. 

With 13.1 million in the middle, O’Neill moved all in for 7.15 million and Kyte was never getting away from this one. He made the call, saw the bad news, and the chip lead flipped once again.

ANOTHER HUGE BLUFF

Level 36 : Blinds 250,000/500,000, 500,000 ante

You’ve got to hand it to both Padraig O’Neill and Jon Kyte. Neither shied away from pulling the trigger on big triple-barrel bluffs when they felt the time was right.

In this one, O’Neill opened to 1 million with 53 and Kyte defended with K10. The flop came 942 giving O’Neill an open-ender and Kyte two overs. Kyte check-called a c-bet of 800,000.

The J turn saw O’Neill fire again, this time for 3 million when checked to. And again Kyte stuck around having picked up a gutshot.

The 9 river paired the board and when Kyte checked a third time O’Neill loaded up and fired a third bet worth 6 million with just five high. It was too much for Kyte this time and O’Neill raked in another significant pot.

THE FINAL HAND

Level 38 : Blinds 400,000/800,000, 800,000 ante

With the blind levels increasing every 45 minutes, this match got extremely shallow-stacked. Or at least it did for Jon Kyte as Padraig O’Neill continued to chip away at him.

Eventually, Kyte became so short (3.1 million – less than four big blinds) that there was nothing he could do. O’Neill was able to shove with any two cards, and that meant Kyte would need to call with any two and pray.

Kyte awaits his fate

But his 105 was dominated by O’Neill’s K10 and the Q9329 board secured O’Neill the victory.

Overall, it was an incredible come-from-behind performance from the Irishman, affectionately known as “smidge”. 

Read the official report from the EPT Prague Main Event here.

O’Neill locks it up after an epic

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