India’s Ankit Ahuja took down the EUREKA Cyprus Main Event just weeks after coming close to victory in Barcelona
It wasn’t even two months ago that Ankit Ahuja was on the final table of the Estrellas Barcelona Main Event, which boasted the largest field ever assembled in a PokerStars live tournament.
There, it was a matter of so close but so far. He fought his way through an astonishing 7,398 entries only to then fall in fifth place.
Today, Ahuja was back on another major final table, this time the EUREKA Poker Tour Main Event in Cyprus. And he wasn’t going to let this one get away from him.
A former Senior Product Manager for PokerStars, Ahuja has found great success over the past couple of years, winning multiple deep stack events in Las Vegas for six-figure scores. But an event under his former employer’s banner eluded him until today.
After six hours of play, it came down to a heads-up battle against Romania’s Eduard Norel. Ahuja had the chip lead and ace-king, while Norel had the heart to five-bet shove his king-jack.
Five cards later, Ahuja was crowned the champion, earning $362,365 for his efforts.
Norel, who recorded his previous best cash of $35K here in Cyprus back in 2016, will take home $226,550 as a consolation. Perhaps he’ll return to the final table in Prague for his own Ahuja-like comeback.
This one was another whopper, hitting 2,659 entries after four starting flights.
A tournament this big was always going to end with a few notable names on the payout sheet. Some of those who went deep include EPT London champ Ian Hamilton, Daniel “SmilleThHero” Smiljkovic, Vladas Tamasauskas (who has been on a heater in high rollers of late) and recent EPT Barcelona winner Simon Wiciak.
The final table was set late on Sunday evening following the departures of Walter Treccarichi in ninth place, Michel Atallah in eighth, and Delrouz Babak in seventh.
Eventual runner-up Norel held the lead coming into today’s play, but Ahuja took control early on and once he had it, he never relinquished the chip lead. His surge up the counts came as a result of winning the classic flip – ace-king versus pocket queens – against Russia’s Andrei Vavilonskii.
Mykhailo Demydenko was the first to fall. The Ukrainian jammed his short stack with pocket eights under the gun and he almost got it through…until Norel woke up with pocket nines in the big blind. He couldn’t catch a third snowman and exited in sixth for $73,650.
The other Russian player at the final table – Roman Gadzhiev – then found himself in dire straights, folding to Norel in a big pot after putting in 75% of his stack (much to short-stack Andrei Teodorescu’s chagrin).
He was out soon thereafter, jamming with K♦ 7♣ on the button and running into Ahuja’s A♥ K♠ . It wasn’t always coming seven as he departed in fifth for $95,750.
THE ONLINE QUALIFIER
Online qualifier Teodorescu was the short stack for most of the day, but the construction company owner from Bucharest knows a thing or two about building things. He chipped up when he needed to, folded at the right times (even dodging bullets), and managed to ladder up nicely. Not bad for someone who only started to learn poker tournaments a year ago.
Vavilonskii soon found himself as the table shorty and attempted to rectify that by calling all-in with A♠ 2♠ against Ahuja’s small-blind shove with K♥ 5♥ . The 4♦ 7♠ 9♥ A♥ 4♥ runout was particularly cruel, however, and Vavilonskii went to collect $124,475 for fourth.
The final three took a break with Ahuja holding a dominating chip lead over both opponents. Both Teodorescu and Norel found double-ups through him almost immediately though, each in unavoidable spots for Ahuja.
Teodorescu’s fantastic run would all come down to a flip. He opened on the button with A♦ Q♣ before Ahuja three-bet from the big blind with 10♠ 10♥ . Back to the Romanian, he jammed and was called quickly, but found no help on the runout.
“This is just my hobby. I don’t have a lot of them — just fishing and poker!” said Teodorescu after his elimination. He’d won a full package for just $16.50 online, but when he got knocked out on Day 1A, he entered a live $250 satellite and binked a second bullet. Now he was going home with $161,800.
“It was great,” he told us. “This is an experience that anyone who has ever played poker should try to live at least once.”
With his departure, they were down to two, and you know what happened next.
Congratulations to Ankit Ahuja, the EUREKA Cyprus champion!
EUREKA CYPRUS FINAL RESULTS
EUREKA Cyprus 2023 $1,100 Main Event
Dates: October 12-16, 2023
Prize pool: $2,552,640