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Gavin Griffin Wins the EPT Grand Finale

Gavin Griffin Wins the EPT Grand Finale 0001

Eight men entered the Salle des Etoiles with one thing on their minds… to win the EPT Grand Finale Championship and take home €1.8 million. 706 players shared a collective dream of leaving luxurious Monte Carlo as a millionaire, but most of them would go home empty handed. They all each bought in for 10,000 Euros each to take part in the largest and most prestigious tournament outside of America. When it was all over, Gavin Griffin emerged as the winner. Although the final hand was a virtual coinflip, karma was on Griffin's side as he became the EPT Grand Finale Champion.

Final Table Results:

1 Gavin Griffin (USA) €1,825,010

2 Marc Karam (Canada) €1,061,820

3 Soren Kongsgaard (Denmark) €610,550

4 Kristian Kjondal (Norway) €471,180

5 Josh Prager (USA) €391,550

6 Steve Jelinek (UK) €305,270

7 Andy Black (Ireland) €238,910

8 Ram Vaswani (UK) €159,270

Let's meet the final table players:

Seat 1: Ram Vaswani (UK) 432,000 chips: Ram Vaswani is part of the infamous Hendon Mob. He's won over $2.4 million in tournaments and is one of the UK's most successful players. He's won over €277,699 on the EPT and just made his 3rd final table appearance. He's made 6 final tables at the WSOP and won the EPT Irish Open.

Seat 2: Steve Jelinek (UK) 758,000: Steve Jelinek is a computer guy and IT from Manchester, England. He qualified for the EPT Grand Finale online at PokerStars. He's won a smaller event in England and took second in the Scottish Poker Championships.

Seat 3: Marc Karam (Canada) 1,742,000: Marc Karam from Ottawa, Canada has been on a rush recently making final tables at the Aussie Millions and the first ever WPT event in Canada. He is also the only player from last year's EPT Grand Finale to make a return appearance at this year's final table. Karam finished 4th last year winning €195,000.

Seat 4: Andy Black (Ireland) 683,000: Andy Black needs no introduction. The Irish Buddhist recently made the final table at the Aussie Millions and made the final table at the 2005 WSOP. Black has €21,722 in career total EPT earnings and has won $2.8 million over his career. Andy Black was in the hotel bar the night before the final table buying the entire EPT crew and media drinks. He ran up a massive bar tab and in Monte Carlo, drinks are not cheap. Black was calling up his friends in Ireland and telling them to catch the next flight to Monte Carlo in order to sweat him at the final table. They showed up waving the Irish flag eager to cheer on their fellow countryman.

In other news, we wonder how rested Ram Vaswani might be. He was spotted in the Salle des Etoiles playing Chinese Poker until the wee hours.

Seat 5: Soren Kongsgaard (Denmark) 1,612,000: Soren Kongsgaard is from Jutland, Denmark and has cashed in tournaments in four countries. He's won events in Ireland and in France. Inside of six months, he cashed in six events and made six final tables including three victories.

Seat 6: Josh Prager (USA) 1,593,000: Josh Prager hails from Yuba City, CA. He's a tennis coach in Northern California. He went deep at the Aussie Millions and also qualified for the EPT Grand Finale online at Poker Stars.

Seat 7: Gavin Griffin (USA) 2,597,000: Chicago, IL native, Gavin Griffin was once the youngest player to win a WSOP bracelet (22 at the time he won it in 2004). He most recently made a final table at a WSOP circuit event and won $86K. He has over $300K in lifetime winnings. Most recently, he's been focusing on charity work after his girlfriend survived breast cancer. He had been promoting a two-day 39 mile walk for breast cancer for the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer.

Seat 8: Kristian Kjondal (Norway) 1,203,000: Kristian Kjondaln is a popular online player from Oslo, Norway. He plays high stakes online cash games and has a reputation of being a very aggressive player.

Gavin Griffin started the final table as the chipleader that also featured two Brits, two Americans, two Scandis, a Canadian, and an Irishman. It sounds like the opening like to a joke, but it was the EPT Grand Finale championship.

The first elimination took place on Hand #5. Ram Vaswani (UK) was all in on the turn with {j-Diamonds}{10-Diamonds} on a board of {5-Diamonds}{4-Diamonds}{4-Hearts}{10-Clubs}. Marc Karam (Canada) called with {k-Spades}{10-Hearts}. Although Vaswani was behind, he picked up a flush draw. He missed when the {q-Hearts} fell on the river. Vaswani won €159,270 for 8th Place.

Marc Karam and Josh Prager butted heads in the first raising war of the final table. Karam raised preflop and Prager called in position. On a flop of {k-Spades}{7-Spades}{6-Hearts} Karam bet out 100K. Prager put a chip on his cards and looked at his chips. He took out a stack of 10K pink chips and minimum raised to 220K. Karam pondered his decision and eventually popped Prager for a 540K raise. Prager peeked at his cards and mucked. Karam won the pot. Karam had taken over the chiplead from Griffin as he became the first player past the 3M mark.

On Hand #19, shortstacked Andy Black (Ireland) was chased down by Kristian Kjondal (Norway). On a flop of {8-Spades}{8-Diamonds}{3-Diamonds}, Andy black moved all in with {7-Spades}{7-Diamonds}. Kjondal instantly called with {j-Spades}{j-Hearts}. The turn was {q-Hearts} and the river was {9-Hearts}. Andy Black's hand could not improve as he busted out in 7th place winning €238,910.

On Hand #27, Steve Jelinek (UK) was all in with his shortstack with {9-Diamonds}{9-Spades}. He was called by Marc Karam's {j-Hearts}{j-Spades}. Jelinek's hand did not improve as he busted and won €305,270 for 6th Place.

On Hand #33, Josh Prager (USA) and Soren Kongsgaard (Denmark) went to battle. On a flop of {8-Spades}{2-Hearts}{2-Diamonds}, Kongsgaard bet 200K and Prager moved all in with {7-Clubs}{7-Diamonds}. Kongsgaard called with {10-Clubs}{10-Hearts}. The turn was {8-Clubs} and river was {j-Clubs}. Prager's hand did not improve and he busted out in 5th place. He won €391,550.

On the bigger hands for Gavin Griffin was his double up against Soren Kongsgaard (Denmark). Griffin was all in preflop with {q-Spades}{q-Hearts} and Kongsgaard flipped over {j-Spades}{j-Diamonds}. Griffin's Queens held up as Kongsgaard had him covered. Kongsgaard was crippled and Griffin became the first player past the 4 million mark as he regained the chiplead.

On the third hand after dinner break, Kongsgaard raised 150K. Griffin re-raised 400K and Kongsgaard moved all with {8-Diamonds}{8-Spades}. Griffin called with {a-Clubs}{j-Spades}. Kongsgaard won a coin flip as he doubled up to close to 1.6 Million.

On hand #76, Kristian Kjondal (Norway) went to battle with Griffin when Griffin raised 105K preflop and Kjondal called. The flop was {9-Diamonds}{6-Hearts}{4-Hearts}. Griffin bet 165K and Kjondal moved all in. Griffin showed {4-Spades}{4-Clubs} for bottom set, while Kjondal flipped over {9-Clubs}{8-Clubs}. The turn was {5-Diamonds} and Kjondal picked up a gutshot draw. The river was {k-Hearts} and Kjondal's hand did not improve. The young Norwegian headed to the rail in 4th place winning €471,180.

On Hand #89, Soren Kongsgaard (Denmark) raised 150K from the button. Griffin called from the small blind and Marc Karam (Canada) called from the big blind. The flop was {q-Clubs}{10-Diamonds}{3-Spades} and all three players checked. The turn was {6-Diamonds} and Griffin checked. Karam bet 600K, Kongsgaard folded and Griffin called. The river was {j-Diamonds} and Griffin checked. Karam bet 700K and Griffin called. Karam showed {k-Diamonds}{4-Diamonds} for the flush and Griffin mucked. Karam took at least 1M off of Griffin and scooped a pot worth close to 2.5M.

On Hand #100, Kongsgaard limped from the small blind and Griffin raised 140K. Kongsgaard called. The flop was {6-Clubs}{5-Hearts}{4-Hearts} and both players checked. The turn was {A-Hearts}. Kongsgaard checked and Griffin bet 200K. Kongsgaard moved all in and Griffin called. Kongsgaard flipped over {10-Spades}{9-Spades} for a stone-cold bluff while Griffin tabled {a-Spades}{j-Hearts}. Kongsgaard was drawing dead and the river was a meaningless {4-Diamonds}. Kongsgaard headed to the rail and won €610,550 for 3rd place.

When heads-up play began, Karam lead 6M to 4.6M in chips. There was no major movement in the first 10 hands as both players won 5 pots each. By the twenty-fifth hand of heads-up play, Griffin grinded out a few chips and had taken a small lead as the two players avoided playing any big pots as they felt each other out.

On Hand #132, Marc Karam raised 150K pre-flop and Gavin Griffin called. The flop was {q-Diamonds}{10-Spades}{5-Hearts} and Karam bet 300K. Griffin raised to 700K. Karam pulled out a couple of stacks and pushed out a 1.7M bet or a raise of 1M. Griffin quickly mucked as Karam increased his lead to 1M.

Griffin went back to grinding and picked up 11 out of 13 pots. They were all small but all those small pots added up as he regained a 900K chiplead.

On Hand #150, the two played their biggest hand up through the first fifty hands of heads-up play. Griffin raised 125K preflop and Marc Karam called. The flop was {j-Clubs}{j-Diamonds}{6-Clubs} and Karam checked. Griffin bet 195K and Karam called. The turn was {a-Hearts}. Karam check-called Griffin's 460K bet. The river was {8-Hearts} and Karam checked. Griffin bet 800K and after some deliberation, Karam called. Griffin showed {j-Spades}{4-Clubs} and Karam mucked. Griffin flopped trips and scooped a 3M plus pot. He appeared to have taken over the momentum as he extended his lead from 7.3M to 3.3M.

Eight hands later, the two played their second biggest pot of heads-up play. Griffin raised 125K and Karam called. The flop was {9-Diamonds}{6-Diamonds}{5-Diamonds} and Karam checked. Griffin bet 225K and Karam smooth called. The turn was {9-Clubs} and both players checked. The river was {10-Hearts} and Karam bet 800K and Griffin eventually called. Karam flipped over {9-Hearts}{6-Hearts} for a full house while Griffin mucked. Karam picked up a 2.5M pot as he pulled within a few chips of even.

On the 92nd hand of heads-up play, Gavin Griffin (USA) raised 125K pre-flop and Marc Karam re-raised to 400K. Griffin called. The flop was {4-Diamonds}{3-Clubs}{2-Spades}. Karam bet 500K and Griffin raised to 2M. Karam moved all in and before Griffin called he muttered, "I think you have the best hand." Karam flipped over his hand and said, "Shit! I just have a pair of fours." He tabled {7-Spades}{4-Spades} while Griffin flipped over {k-Diamonds}{5-Spades} for an open ended straight draw along with two over cards. Griffin had Karam covered by just 510K as the dealer counted out all their chips. After a couple of hours of meticulous heads-up play, the EPT Championships would come down to a coin flip.

The turn was {3-Hearts} and Karam knew he dodged a huge bullet. His hand looked a lot better and his chances of winning increased. However, Griffin still had outs and caught on one the river when the{k-Hearts} spiked which sealed the victory for Griffin.

Marc Karam won €1,061,820 for second place, while Gavin Griffin picked up €1,825,010 for first place. For the second year in a row (Jeff Williams won last year), an American won the EPT Championships.

"My first trip to Europe was pretty good," a jovial Griffin said as he addressed the members of the foreign press. "I'll definitely be back. Nothing beats the prestige of winning a bracelet, but this is a special win for sure."

When asked what he was going to do with the money he answered, "Pay taxes."

After the winner's press conference a media rep joked, "Fitting that an online qualifier would win the PokerStars sponsored EPT Grand Finale. On the river card nonetheless."

Perhaps it was karma balancing things out in life. Griffin's girlfriend Kristin was issued a bad beat a couple of years ago when she discovered she had breast cancer. All the good will and charity that Griffin put forth might have given him a cosmic edge over the rest of the players in the tournament.

Griffin won a WSOP bracelet in 2004 and although nothing in tournament poker is more impressive than winning a bracelet, he solidified himself as a bona-fide pro as he bested some of the premiere players in the world. From legends like Phil Ivey, Greg Raymer, and Phil Hellmuth to those wild and reckless Scandis like Patrik Antonius, Johnny Lodden, and William Thorsson, Griffin outlasted all of them as he gets to add the EPT Grand Finale Champion to his resume.

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