All eyes were on Arnaud Mattern as he sat down at the PokerStars.com European Poker Tour Tallinn final table with a sizable chip lead and a second chance to make history. If Mattern won, he'd be the first player to win two EPT titles, but the French Team PokerStars Pro had to settle for third. Instead, Kevin Stani, a skilled online grinder from Norway, earned the right to call himself EPT season seven's first champion.
Stani, who made it all the way to 127th in the WSOP Main Event in July, played intelligently throughout the tournament, making a few big folds and some even bigger well-timed bluffs. But most people will remember the inaugural EPT Tallinn as the one where Mattern got two-outed rather than as the one for Stani's triumphant moment. Mattern won EPT Prague in season four and has since been on a quest to win his second main event. He came close the year after, finishing fifth at EPT Warsaw, and had hoped this final table would be the one.
Mattern started the final table on a hot streak, picking up aces in a four-bet pot to eliminate Bassam "Bissobentley" Elnajjar in eighth place. Elnajjar had hoped to follow his friend Nicolas Chouity in bringing an EPT trophy back to Lebanon, but he had to settle for €32,000.
Nicolo Calia hung around as a short-stack for two days but lost his fight in seventh place when his fell to . The Italian has been a regular on the EPT circuit since taking up poker three years ago after retiring as a software developer and nuclear engineer. This was his seventh cash in an EPT Main Event and his first final table appearance. With the elder statesmen at the table out in eighth and seventh, the younger crowd started getting aggressive.
Steven "SvZff" van Zadelhoff kept the hopes of Dutch poker fans alive until his exit in sixth place. He shoved his short-stack into Stani's queens and couldn't make magic happen with . At least van Zadelhoff will able to enjoy more of the €63,000 he won since he moved to Malta at the beginning of the year to avoid Holland's harsh taxes on poker winnings.
Mikko Jaatinen was out next in fifth place when his failed to stand up to Mattern's . Jaatinen is working on his doctorate in economics and only plays poker as a hobby. He came to Tallinn from Finland with his brother Jussi, who is better-known player but was eliminated in 45th place.
Russian Dmitry Vitkind wielded his short stack impressively, going from almost out many times on Day 4 all the way to fourth place. Vitkind qualified for the €4,000 Tallinn Main Event in a $22 rebuy satellite on PokerStars, an investment he turned into €120,000.
After eliminating Vitkind, Stani took over as chip leader. He ran a successful bluff against Mattern to gain an even bigger stack. Mattern was in good shape to double back into the lead when he got it all in the middle with against Stani's . The flop appeared harmless. But the on the turn was a blow to Mattern. He had flush outs, but didn't get there on the river. Somehow, despite being two-outted from a chance to win his second EPT title, Mattern kept a smile on his face as he graciously accepted third place.
That left Konstanin Bilyauer heads up with Kevin Stani. Bilyauer was at a significant chip disadvantage but hung on long enough to make Stani work for the win. Ultimately, Bilyauer fell in second place, which was not bad for his second live tournament ever. He'll take €250,000 back to Russia.
Stani earned top honors in Tallin along with €400,000. The 29-year-old from Stavanger, Norway, won one of the last satellites online to qualify for the tournament. He'll appreciate his last-minute decision to travel to Estonia for a long time.
Here are the results from the final table:
1st: Kevin Stani - €400,000
2nd: Konstanin Bilyauer - €250,000
3rd: Arnaud Mattern - €160,000
4th: Dmitry Vitkind - €120,000
5th: Mikko Jaatinen - €80,000
6th: Steven van Zadelhoff - €63,000
7th: Nicolo Calia - €47,000
8th: Bassam Elnajjar - €32,000
Check out the blog to read more about the final table and the whole tournament, and make sure to follow the PokerNews Live Update Team to the next EPT, which begins in Vilamoura, Portugal on August 28th.
There is still time to qualify for EPT Vilamoura as well as EPT London exclusively at PokeStars. If online is more your thing, Club PokerNews has come together with Pokerstars to host an exclusive $10,000 WCOOP Freeroll on September 5.