PokerStars.com EPT Prague, Final Table: Bonavena Becomes First Italian EPT Champion
After a long day of poker, Salvatore Bonavena finished the day at the PokerStars.com European Poker Tour Prague Main Event the same way he began it, on top. After taking the chip lead into the final table, Bonavena lost that lead, retook it, lost the lead again and finally moved back in front going into heads-up play, where he vanquished fellow Italian Massimo Di Cicco in an hour-long heads-up match. Bonavena became the first Italian EPT champion with his victory, netting himself a boatload of national pride to go with the €774,000 top prize.
Raul Mestre came into the final table on the short stack, and got all his chips in the middle on the second hand of the day. Mestre raised preflop with , and Fredrik Nygard re-raised with . Mestre didn't waste much time in pushing all in, and Nygard reluctantly called. The flop was innocuous as it came down , but the turn brought plenty of excitement as Mestre moved into the lead. The river quickly dashed Mestre's hopes when it came down the to give Nygard the four-flush and send Mestre to the rail in eighth place (€71,800).
Nasr El Nasr was the next to fall, heading home in seventh place (€99,500) when he moved all in with , finding one caller in Andrew Chen with . The flop gave Chen a set and left Nasr drawing to the flush to stay alive. Chen managed to fade a diamond on the turn and the river to drag the pot and bust Nasr.
Chen then bounced Fredrik Nygard in sixth place (€130,000) when Nygard moved all in preflop with . Chen called with the big stack and , and picked up a pair on the flop. The turn and river brought no help for Nygard as they came down , and Nygard's tournament was over. Chen claimed yet another scalp when he busted Francesco Cirianni in fifth place (€166,000). Cirianni moved all in preflop with , and Chen called with . The board ran out , and Cirianni headed to the payout line.
Alexiou Konstantinos' erratic and aggressive playing style gave his opponents fits at the final table. With a stack that swung from small to huge over the course of the day, the 48-year old Greek finally busted in fourth place (€199,000) at the hands of eventual champion Bonavena. Konstantinos raised preflop, and Bonavena moved all in over the top. Konstantinos thought for a long moment before calling for all his chips with . He was in a race against Bonavena's , and when the board ran out , Bonavena had rivered a bigger pair on the river to bust Konstantinos and take the action to three-handed.
20-year-old Canadian Andrew Alan Chen added a second major cash to his 2008 resume when he finished in third place for €257,000. He also made the final table of the LAPT San Jose Main Event last month. Chen moved all in preflop with , and Salvatore Bonavena called, showing . Chen found no help on the flop, and also faced Bonavena's gutshot straight draw. He was drawing dead to a chop on the turn when the landed, making a straight for Bonavena. Only a six would save Chen, so when the river brought the , his tournament run was over as Bonavena took the chip lead into heads-up play. The chip counts as the duel began were as follows:
Salvatore Bonavena — 4,123,000
Massimo Di Cicco — 1,574,000
After an hour of back and forth play which saw Di Cicco come from behind to briefly claim the chip lead, Bonavena eliminated Di Cicco as the runner-up (€445,000) to become the first Italian EPT champion. Di Cicco raised preflop with , and Bonavena called. Di Cicco quickly moved all in on the flop, and Bonavena thought for a brief moment before calling with . Bonavena held top pair, while Di Cicco held an over card and a straight draw. The on the turn was no help to either player, and when the hit the river, Salvatore Bonavena became the EPT Prague champion, good for a €774,000 prize.
The final-table finishes and payouts looked like this as the Italians put a one-two punch on Prague, claiming the top two spots in the money list:
1. Salvatore Bonavena — €774,000
2. Massimo Di Cicco — €445,000
3. Andrew Alan Chen — €257,000
4. Francesco Cirianni — €166,000
6. Fredrik Nygard — €130,000
7. Nasr El Nasr — €99,500
8. Raul Mestre — €71,800
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