High Flying Jon Kyte Leads Final Five in 2023 EPT Prague Main Event
Jon Kyte has been living every poker player's dream over the last few days at the 2023 PokerStars European Poker Tour Prague. The Norwegian poker pro ended Days 3 and 4 as the chip leader in the 5,300 EPT Main Event and he maintained his position atop the counts as the series showstopper gears up for its final day.
Just five of the record-breaking 1,285-entry field remain, with Kyte's stack of 22,900,000 (229 big blinds) leading the handful of hopefuls. His grip on the chip lead was rarely threatened throughout the day, thanks to a hat trick of early eliminations that put him into the stratosphere. He will go into the finale with more than half of the chips in play.
Kyte flipped Niall Farrell out of contention after his ace-king bested the last remaining EPT champion's pocket queens. A fortunate river in a three-way all-in made him the favorite for the trophy and 1,030,000 first-place prize as Dejan Jakovljevic and 2023 WSOP Europe Main Event winner Max Neugebauer were added to Kyte's list of victims.
Kyte is no stranger to victory at the EPT, having tasted gold in a couple of side events throughout the 2023 season, but now he's in the driver's seat to capture the big one and etch his name in poker history.
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Four Others in the Mix
Coming into the final day as Kyte's closest rival is Cheng Zhao. The unknown quantity ended the day with 8,125,000 and did hold the chip lead for one hand during the day. The Chinese poker player has a meager $35,242 in live tournament earnings, which includes three EPT cashes.
Umberto Ruggeri rounds out the top three chip counts with a stack of 3,410,000, which he can thank the poker gods for. On one of the final hands of play, he got it in with ace-queen versus the ace-king of Padraig O'Neill. A queen on the river ensured his survival for Day 6. Ruggeri paid tribute to the late Doyle Brunson by four-betting ten-deuce just before the final table formed. It folded out the table and put a huge smile on his face. He has already banked the biggest score of his career and has added heaps to his live earnings of $44,781.
Czech poker fans will be looking to Adam Wagner to fly the flag for them as the Czech national is the last player from the festival's host country. He managed to navigate the day without too much trouble and has 2,760,000 to play with when the action restarts.
Propping up the pack is O'Neill, who has the second-best resume after Kyte. His $629,675 in live tournament earnings dwarf Zhao, Ruggeri and Wagner, so he will be hoping his experience at the felt can secure a ladder or two.
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Day 5 Action
After Kyte's onslaught in the opening stages of the day, just 13 players remained by the time the first break came around. Serge Chechin, who was the last online qualifier standing, bowed out when play resumed. The French player had entertained onlookers over the last few days with some unorthodox strategies that included checks and bets in the dark. His mistimed jam with ten-nine marked the end of his deep run.
Jiri Kocab departed in twelfth-place after his dominated ace failed to improve against O'Neill. Kyte bagged his fourth bust-out of the day after finding an ace on the river against the pocket tens held by Mark Helou.
Preben Stokkan was one of the more accomplished players coming into the penultimate day but failed to spin up his short stack after being card dead while on the feature table. He missed his open-ended straight draw on his final hand and his chips were sent over to Grigorii Rodin.
The nine players merged onto the final table, and the action never relented. Vincent Meli was the first casualty. His pocket jacks ran into Kyte's queens and did not improve on the runout.
With Meli out of the running, the field all locked up six-figure payouts, with sizeable pay jumps following after each elimination. Taking the eighth-place prize of 123,600 was poker pro and content creator Marle Spragg. The American was oustd by Kyte, with the latter's king-queen getting there on the river against ace-four. Spragg, who is married to PokerStars Team Pro Ben "Spraggy" Spragg, now has the bragging rights in the household as her payout bested her husband's biggest live cash of 69,120 ($86,258).
Poker veteran Govert Metaal dropped out in sixth and his 160,750 payday put him in the top ten of the Netherlands All-Time Money List. That leaderboard has seen significant change at EPT Prague, with Teun Mulder taking the top spot following his four cashes at the festival, which included a win in a 25K event.
Rodin was the last player to leave on Day 5, which marked the end of the session. As you could've guessed, his scalp was claimed by Kyte. Rodin jammed with deuces but ran into queens to cement Kyte as the runaway leader.
The finale resumes on Sunday, December 17th, at 12:30 p.m. local time, with 26:37 left in Level 29 with blinds of 50,000/100,000 and a 100,000 big blind ante. While it may seem that Kyte already has one hand on the title, the journey to being crowned an EPT champion still has the potential to offer plenty of twists and turns.
The remaining five players have guaranteed themselves 271,660 for navigating their way this far. Tomorrow, theyll play down to a winner, so be sure to return to PokerNews to find out who will get their hands on the EPT gold-plated trophy and 1,030,000 up top.
In this Series
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