Michael Schulze and Ricardo Sousa played tag atop the leaderboard for all of Day 3 at the PokerStars.net European Poker Tour Polish Open at the Hyatt Regency in Warsaw, so it was only fitting that they were the last two men standing at the final table. In a lengthy heads-up match at the end of an 11-hour final, Schulze finally put away Sousa to claim the EPT Polish Open title and the $946,269 winner's prize money.
Schulze held the chip lead to start the day, as the final nine seating assignments and chip stacks looked like this:
Seat 1: Trond Erik Eidsvig - 220,000
Seat 2: Christian Öman - 110,000
Seat 3: Mehdi Ouakhir - 360,000
Seat 4: Niclas Svensson - 174,000
Seat 5: Daniel Woolson - 164,000
Seat 6: Juan Maceiras - 437,000
Seat 7: Michael Schulze - 1,162,000
Seat 8: Ricardo Sousa - 756,000
Seat 9: Mathias Viberg - 229,000
Short-stacked Danieal Woolson wasted no time getting his chips into play, raising preflop with and finding three callers. The flop came down , and Woolson made the first bet at the pot. Ricardo Sousa folded and Mathias Viberg called. Mehdi Ouakhir moved all in over the top and both opponents called. Ouakhir was drawing thin with , and Viberg held a dominating position over both opponents with middle set, tabling . The turn and river came , and Viberg scooped a huge pot as Woolson headed to the rail in ninth place ($53,657).
Trond Eidsvig set two records with the Polish Open, holding both the record for most cashes in an EPT single season (4) and most final tables in one season (3). His trip to the final table in Warsaw ended in eighth place ($88,356) when he took a rough beat from Juan Maceiras. Maceiras raised preflop with , and Eidsvig moved all in over the top with . The board ran out , giving Maceiras a better two pair on the river and sending Eidsvig home the victim of a three-outer.
Niclas Svensson busted in seventh place ($119,911) when he moved all in over the top of several limpers preflop. Ouakhir was his only caller, looking Svensson up with . Svensson tabled , and held the lead on the flop of . The on the turn gave Ouakhir more outs, and the on the river counterfeited Svensson's two pair and sent him home.
Maceiras moved all in on four consecutive hands to more than triple his stack in a matter of moments, doubling though Mathias Viberg with against Viberg's pocket tens when an ace came in the window. Viberg almost immediately got his revenge on Maceiras when the two tangled a few hands later. Maceiras limped from the cutoff with , and Viberg raised from the big blind with . Maceiras moved all in over the top, and Viberg called. The flop brought Viberg no help when it came down , but the turn gave Viberg the lead. The river was no help to Maceiras, and he was eliminated in sixth place ($151,467).
Christian Öman was next to fall when he made a great call against chip leader Schulze but couldn't get his hand to hold up. Schulze raised preflop with , and Öman called with from the big blind. Both players checked the flop of , and Schulze moved all in on the turn. Öman went into the tank for a moment before making the call, only to see the come on the river. Öman picked up $192,423 for his fifth-place finish.
Mehdi Ouakhir found himself the short stack after losing a big pot to Ricardo Sousa, but it was Schulze who put the final nail in his coffin, calling Ouakhir's preflop shove with pocket tens. Ouakhir tabled for the steal attempt, and when the board ran out , Ouakhir was eliminated in fourth place ($236,586).
Three-handed play continued for some time before Sousa crippled Viberg when Sousa's open-ended straight draw hit on the turn to push him to the top of the chip counts and leave Viberg with only a few big blinds to his name. Viberg managed to double through Sousa once before getting all his chips in preflop against Schulze with against Schulze's . The flop came down , giving Schulze a set but leaving Viberg with a double-gutshot straight draw. The turn was no help for Viberg, and the river sealed his fate. He earned $315,375 for his third-place finish, and Sousa and Schulze settled in for their lengthy heads-up battle.
The heads-up match between Sousa and Schulze, which seemed preordained at the start of the final table, took nearly two hours to complete. Finally, as the night wore on, all the chips got in the middle preflop with Schulze holding to Sousa's . The flop brought an inside straight draw for Schulze as it came down , but it was the on the turn that sealed the deal for him. The river was no help for Sousa, and he was forced to settle with $536,276 for second place. Michael Schulze started the final table as the chip leader and finished it as the champion, picking up $946,269 for the EPT Polish Open title.
Photo: Pokerstars.com / Neil Stoddart