When the third and final day of the 2015 PokerStars.fr European Poker Tour Deauville €10,300 High Roller began, 12 players remained from a record-breaking field of 128 entries. Josip Simunic was one amongst that dozen, but the Austrian was forced to start the day with less than four big blinds. Fast forward 10 hours later and Simunic had emerged as champion of the event and €309,170 richer.
Final Table Payouts
Simunic's rise from the bottom started early. Following the elimination of Davidi Kitai in 12th place and double ups by Garret Gruener and Tobias Peters, who were each shorter to start the day, Simunic tripled up through Jean-Noel Thorel and Joao Ribeiro. He had to battle against two pocket pairs to do so, but in the end his took down the three-way pot against the and on the board.
After a failed bluff attempt saw Thorel pick off a big chunk of chips, Simunic was back under five big blinds to start the unofficial final table of nine. But, on the second hand dealt after the redraw, Simunic picked up pocket kings and doubled through Thomas Butzhammer holding the . That gave Simunic a tiny bit of breathing room, but he wouldn't fully be able to exhale until a second double came through Butzhammer shortly thereafter.
The second time around, Simunic won a flip with the against the for Butzhammer, and that put Simunic over 15 big blinds. That must've made him feel like the chip leader given the amount of time he had spent with single-digit big blinds.
From there, Simunic went into the first break of the day with over 500,000 in chips and eight players remaining. The big blind was going to climb to 30,000 when the players returned to action, giving Simunic just over 17 big blinds to work with. Butzhammer was below Simunic by less than two big blinds, and the first hand back saw the two clash for a very-important third time of the day.
After an open to 60,000 from Thorel, Butzhammer reraised all in. Simunic had direct position on Butzhammer and reraised all in, which knocked all other players out of the hand, including Thorel. Again, Simunic had woken up with two kings — the — and Butzhammer had just one over card to the cowboys with an unsuited ace in his hand — the . The board ran out , and Simunic ballooned to over a million in chips. Butzhammer took his leave in eighth place.
Over an hour passed without an elimination, but then the biggest moment of the final table took place. It saw a double elimination occur that sent Eric Sfez and Ribeiro both out the door, finishing in sixth place and seventh place, respectively. The two were all in against the of Robin Yitalo. Sfez had the , and Ribeiro held the . A ten-high board ensured the jacks held strong for Yitalo, and he won the big three-way clash to hit 2.3 million in chips — good for over 35 percent of the chips in play.
As far as Simunic was concerned, this was good news. He had battled back to a very decent stack and now two players were gone in one fell swoop. For a man who began the day with less than four big blinds, reaching the final five players was certainly something to be excited about. But then, what happened next was cause for even more excitement on his behalf.
Twice on the day Simunic had woken up to pocket kings for a double up. This time, though, it was an opponent of his that had the cowboys and Simunic was the one needing lots of help with pocket sixes. Thanks to a six in the door and a final runout of , Simunic was able to survive against Fady Kamar and move to new high of 1.6 million in chips.
At the second break of the day, Simunic was smack dab in the middle of the five remaining players. After action resumed, he had a bluff picked off by Kamar, but then vaulted up into the chip lead by busting Ivan Luca in fifth place. Simunic took that chip lead into the dinner break, increased it by busting Yitalo in fourth place during the second level back, and then used it to apply lots of pressure during three-handed play. As it turned out, though, Thorel ended up busting Kamar in third place to pull back to nearly even with Simunic heading into heads-up play.
After Thorel put his entire stack on the line in the first hand of the duel to gain the chip lead, Simunic doubled in a huge way shortly thereafter. On the turn of a board that read , Simunic was all in with the against the for Thorel. The paired the board on the river, and Simunic boomed to 5.4 million in chips and left his opponent with just 10 big blinds. It didn't last long from there.
On the final hand between the two, the money again went in on the turn. This time the board was , and interestingly Simunic had the same hand that Thorel had given him the massive double with, holding the against Thorel's . The completed the board on the river, and that was all she wrote.
Simunic's incredible run to the winner's circle took patience and perseverance, but in the end it all paid off to the tune of €309,170 and the right to be called champion.