Albert Daher Caps Off EPT Cyprus With Crazy Prop Bets & $25,000 Title
The idyllic scenery of the Merit Royal Diamond Hotel and Spa, with its sandy beaches and poolside bars, invites a slow life of laying back and soaking in the atmosphere. So it was an irony that the first-ever PokerStars European Poker Tour Cyprus ended not with a drawn-out affair but with a turbo sprint to the finish.
Long after Gilles Simon lifted the EPT Cyprus Main Event trophy and the room had largely cleared of players and spectators, Albert Daher and Mikita Badziakouski continued to battle at their table with four other opponents in the final $25,000 No-Limit Holdem event of the festival. The levels had been decreased to 15 minutes to speed up action; stacks became extremely shallow, at one point averaging 12 big blinds at the final table.
Daher, meanwhile, was constantly near the top and ended it alone, defeating Badziakouski heads-up to win the festivals final trophy and $264,690 top prize. The Lebanon native is a regular at the highest-staked cash games here in North Cyprus but also has a distinguished tournament resume that includes a 25,000 High Roller win at EPT Monte Carlo in 2018, a 25,500 win at what was then the PokerStars Championship in Prague in 2017, and a final-table run at EPT Barcelona that same year. The win pushes his career live winnings past $4.5 million.
Recap of the Action
The event was supposed to begin yesterday at 7 p.m. but was pushed back to 12:30 this afternoon to allow more players to register. A total of 29 entries fired bullets, generating a prize pool of $696,290.
Daher was among the first entries and also one of the first eliminations. In a strange twist, considering what was to come later, it was Badziakouski who took him out after flopping the nut straight with ace-queen to beat Dahers pair of fours.
The likes of Aleksejs Ponakovs, Joao Vieira, and Steve ODwyer also fell along the way, but the story for most of the tournament wasnt about who was winning pots and the players still in - it was about the prop bet between Daher and the always amiable Gha Iakobishvili.
Daher and Iakobishvili made a bet on what cards would come on the flop every hand. Red cards would earn Iakobishvili money; Daher had black cards. Thousands of dollars changed hands on every pot, sometimes upwards of $20,000. Dahers final count had him down $152,000 to Iakobishvili by the time the two players clashed in what would be Iakobishvilis final hand of the tournament.
Iakobishvili was down to just 61,000 and called all in with just ten-four when Daher raised with king-nine. Daher hit a king on the flop, and Iakobishvili, who fired two bullets into the event, was eliminated shortly before the money. Daher earlier had doubled up off Iakobishvili with quad eights, then eliminated Ponakovs and Victoria Livschitz in back-to-back hands as he began to open up a chip lead with the bubble approaching.
After Level 14, the players agreed to decreasethe levels to 15 minutes. With six players on the bubble and just five getting paid, it was a test of attrition to see who could wait out their opponents. Artur Martirosian finally raised to 125,000 on the button, then called off his last 50,000 with ace-seven against Dahers ten-eight. Daher flopped two pair to bust the Russian high roller on the money bubble.
Adrian Mateos battled on a short stack for the entire bubble and finally fell in fifth place when he was forced to call for his last 60,000 with just seven-three. Sam Greenwood had king-high to win the pot and send Mateos, who earlier in the day finished in 18th in the $10,300 High Roller, to the rail.
Daher then moved all in on the button and Daniel Rezaei called for his last 115,000. Greenwood snap-called for his 600,000 stack with a pair of tens, Rezaei had ace-high, and Daher showed jack-nine. The flop brought two nines as Daher made trips to send both opponents to the payout desk, Rezaei taking fourth place and Greenwood third with his bigger stack.
Daher had a commanding 2,600,000 to 300,000 lead over Badziaouski to begin heads-up, but Badziakouski managed to double up when he set a trap with ace-king. The two players were nearly even in chips until Daher returned the favor and limped in with ace-jack. Badziakouski then jammed for 1,200,000 with ace-deuce and Daher called, pairing his jack on the board to win the title and bring EPT Cyprus to a close.
Daher's win brought the first-ever EPT stop in this Mediterranean island paradise to a close. He may have lost the bet to Iakobishvili, but he won the day and is taking the title and what's left of the first-place prize money back home.
In this Series
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