The 2013 bwin WPT Merit Cyprus Classic lasted six days at the Merit Crystal Cove Hotel and Casino. Alexey Rybin led the way after each one of them. The Russian businessman, who missed a big meeting in Monte Carlo to play the final table in Cyprus, endured the toughest day of his tournament on Wednesday but still managed to claim victory and the top prize of $258,000.
Rybin started off the final table unusually passive and almost out of sorts compared to how aggressively he'd played the earlier days. However, a late rally three-handed saw him cooler compatriot Andrei Nikonov with ace-queen against ace-jack to take back the chip lead going into a heads up battle against Albert Daher, who finished runner-up for $160,200.
2013 WPT Cyprus Merit Classic Final Table Payouts
*Includes $25,000 seat at the WPT Championship
Lebanese player Pierre Sayegh was the first player to be eliminated on Wednesday. The oldest player in the tournament was also both the shortest stack and considered the tightest player left. Sergey Rybachenko had opened preflop with Daher calling before Sayegh squeezed all in. The Russian folded but Daher called with and won the flip against Sayegh's on a board.
Rybachenko, the most experienced of the three Russians on the final table, managed an early double up through Daher and for a moment the young Lebanese player could no longer afford to be the most aggressive player at the table. Rybachenko meanwhile couldn't hold onto his newly won chips and ended up five-bet folding into Nikonov's aces.
Eventually, Daher got his chips back from Rybachenko in a huge pot but he was very lucky to do so. Rybachenko was crippled by this and barely a couple of hands later he was all in with against Daher's and couldn't spike on the board.
After losing with to Rybin's , Turkish player Kayhan Tugrul was left nursing a microstack. Tugrul was all in with against Nikonov's and Rybin's and the latter made a boat on the board to leave two Russians and a Lebanese player left.
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Three-handed play lasted a while, as Daher and Nikonov exchanged the chip lead a couple of times while Rybin saw his stack drop down to only 12 big blinds at one stage. But after Rybin won successive big pots, including a double up, the stacks became much more even.
Rybin's ascent and eventual victory came down to two big pots, firstly he coolered Nikonov in a pot that also gave him back the chip lead for the heads-up battle against Daher.
The second saw a three-bet pot where Daher flopped top pair with on a board but Rybin had a monster in . When Rybin instantly moved all in on the turn, Daher found himself levelled into calling and was drawing dead. Left with just six big blinds, Daher managed to double up twice and there looked like a genuine chance that he could pull off some sort of amazing comeback. But the third time was the charm for Rybin, his ace-five besting Daher's king-nine for the $258,000 first prize, the seat at the WPT Championship next year, and most importantly the WPT title.
We'll leave you with an interview with the man himself, WPT Champion Alexey Rybin talking to PokerNews' Laura Cornelius.
Photo courtesy of the World Poker Tour.