EPT Tallinn Launches Season 7 with Kevin Stani as First Winner

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Players around the world waited patiently for the PokerStars-sponsored European Poker Tour summer break to end, and they were rewarded with the start of Season 7 on August 11. The Swissotel in Tallinn, Estonia was the location of the kickoff, and the poker community was anxious to get the tour underway.

The first of two starting days brought 182 players to the tables, and another 238 were added to the mix on the second day. That brought the entire field to 420 players and the prize pool to €1,596,000, enough for the top 56 finishers to receive payouts with €400K going to the ultimate winner. There were numerous big names in the field at the start of action, including Annette Obrestad, Vanessa Selbst, Ville Wahlbeck, Luca Pagano, Scott Montgomery, Ivan Demidov, Carter Phillips, Shaun Deeb, Katja Thater, Dario Minieri, Bertrand Grospellier, and even French poker writer Benjamin Gallen. But most would not survive the first day of play, as only 89 got through Day 1A with Ali Tekintamgac in the chip lead with 203,200, and 120 finished Day 1B with Perica Bukara leading with 210,600 chips.

Day 2 thinned the field to only 84 players, and when chips were bagged that night, Jonathan Weekes had taken the lead with 751,900 chips. But it was on Day 3 that the money bubble burst, courtesy of Yotam Bar-Yosef and his pocket deuces versus the pocket queens of Chady Merhej. Bar-Yosef departed in 57th place, and the remainder of the players were guaranteed to walk away with a minimum of €6,350. That third full day of play then ended with only 25 players still in the field and Bukara back on top, this time with 1,326,000 chips.

Day 4 took the players through more eliminations, including Ivan Demidov and Johan Storakers, as the final table neared. Ultimately, with nine players remaining, Jonathan Weekes pushed all-in for his last 750K holding ah 8d, and Arnaud Mattern called with as qs. The board of qd js 3h 9h 4s couldn’t save Weekes, who left in ninth place with €25,000. And that set the final table as follows:

Seat 1: Konstantin Bilyauer 2,498,000
Seat 2: Steven van Zadelhoff 805,000
Seat 3: Kevin Stani 2,586,000
Seat 4: Nicolo Calia 637,000
Seat 5: Bassam Elnajjar 744,000
Seat 6: Dmitry Vitkind 502,000
Seat 7: Arnaud Mattern 3,720,000
Seat 8: Mikko Jaatinen 1,166,000

The action resumed on August 16. And the first player to put himself at risk was Bassam Elnajjar, who pushed all-in from the small blind with ah qh. Mattern called with ad ac, and that pocket pair held up through the display of the jh 5s 3h 6s qs board. Elnajjar was the first to take leave of the table, walking away with €32,000 for the eighth place finish.

Nicolo Calia was crippled by Jaatinen, who doubled through him and left the former with only 125K. Calia then pushed all-in on the very next hand with kd 9d, and it was Bilyauer who called from the big blind with 7h 4c. But the jh 4d 6h 2c 3c board hit Bilyauer with the four, and Calia was gone in seventh place with €47,000.

Steven van Zadelhoff was up next and pushed from the small blind with qd 9h, but Stani was able to make the easy call with qs qh from the big blind. The dealer gave them a board of 7h 6h 8h 4s 6c, and van Zadelhoff was unable to catch a break on the hand, so he went to pick up his €63,000 for the sixth place finish.

Mikko Jaatinen sought another double-up and risked it with ks 9h, but Mattern was the caller holding ac kh. The board of 7d 4s 2d ts kd only improved Mattern’s hand and sent Jaatinen out of the tournament in fifth place with €80,000.

Dmitry Vitkind was the shortest stack of the four remaining players, despite doubling through Bilyauer to stay alive once. He went into battle again, though this time it was on a flop of 7s 5c 3d against Bilyauer and Stani. But Bilyauer got out of the way when Vitkind bet, and Stani reraised all-in. Vitkind called for the remainder of his chips with 6h 5h, but Stani showed 8d 8c for the better pair. The kh on the turn and 7h on the river ended it for Vitkind, who made himself scarce in fourth place with €120,000.

Arnaud Mattern continued to lose momentum and was soon back on the short stack during three-handed play. He finally risked all of his chips with qh qc, and Stani was there with only 3c 3s. But when the board came 2h kd 5h 3h 9c, that three made a set for Stani and eliminated Mattern in third place. He walked away with €160,000 for the effort but was denied making history by winning his second EPT title.

Heads-up play then got underway with the following counts:

Kevin Stani 8,600,000
Konstantin Bilyauer 4,200,000

Stani increased his chip lead during the first portion of the match, but Bilyauer did double up once to stay alive. The two then got involved in a hand that began with a 3c 9h 2s flop. Both players checked to the 4h on the turn, at which point a bet, raise, and call led them to the 8d on the river. Bilyauer led the betting again, but Stani pushed all-in. Bilyauer considered his options and finally called, but when Stani turned over 6s 5c for the straight, Bilyauer mucked without showing and accepted the €250,000 for second place.

Kevin Stani captured the EPT title for Norway and collected €400,000 for his victory.