The first-ever European Poker Tour Malta festival kicked off with a bang, as Dzmitry Urbanovich won the €25,500 High Roller after an epic three-day battle against some of the best players in the world. This event drew a total of 68 entries and 20 reentries, creating a prize pool of €2.156 million and 13 players ultimately were paid.
Final Table Results
After a very long penultimate day that included a 90-minute money bubble and another two-hour bubble before the final table was reached, many players started out with small stacks. The shortest stack among the final eight was Nick Petrangelo, but the current No. 5 on the GPI Player of the Year ranking was not the first to get knocked out.
A few hands into the final table, it was former EPT London Super High Roller and EPT Prague Main Event champion Martin Finger who raised from middle position to 33,000. Urbanovich three-bet from his immediate left to 79,000, the action folded back around to Finger, who had started the day seventh in chips, and he moved all in for 350,000 in chips. Urbanovich called holding pocket tens and he sent Finger to the rail holding ace-king. Finger collected €79,800 for his eighth-place finish.
Not too long after Finger had left the room, it was Sam Greenwood who moved all in for 297,000 in chips. Greenwood was the tournament chip leader for quite some time on Day 2, but now his tournament life was hanging in the balance versus Urbanovich. Urbanovich called Greenwood's shove from the big blind with ace-nine of spades and the Canadian pro was in good shape with pocket queens. The flop and the turn, however, both contained a nine so that Urbanovich made trips, and Greenwood took home €102,400 for his seventh-place finish.
After Greenwood's elimination, there were four stacks that dwindled and two that grew bigger. Both Connor Drinan and Urbanovich kept chipping up while the others fell behind more and more. Piotr Franczak was the first of the four to get knocked out when he ran pocket threes into Drinan's kings. Franczak cashed for €129,400, which is his biggest live tournament result to date.
After a short break with five players remaining, Dani Stern and Petrangelo hit the rail in quick succession. First, Stern ran pocket nines into Daniel Dvoress' ace-jack of clubs, followed by Petrangelo losing with queen-ten of diamonds against Drinan's jack-ten of spades. Both players had less than six big blinds, but their reward for making it this far certainly wasn't something to sneeze at. Stern collected €166,000 for fifth, while Petrangelo, who recorded his second-biggest tournament result to date, walked away €205,900 richer.
Dvoress was the last man standing of the four shorter stacks, and he couldn't get anything going during three-handed play, either. After losing a string of hands, Dvoress finally ended up all in with jack-nine of spades versus Urbanovich's ace-three. The board brought the all-in player no help, and Dvoress cashed for €263,000 to double his career live tournament earnings.
Coming into the final table, Urbanovich's biggest live result was a third-place finish in an Estrellas Poker Tour €1,000 turbo event for €31,950, and even a second-place in this event would mean a huge increase of that score.
Drinan had a bit more experience under the bright lights of big international final tables, as he finished fourth in the Asia-Pacific Poker Tour Macau Super High Roller this last November for the equivalent of $657,605. He was also one of the Big One for One Drop players at the World Series of Poker last summer, having won his way into the event via a $25,000 live satellite. With Drinan, it was safe to say he has dealt with much poker pressure before in his life. In total, Drinan had six six-figure scores before this final table started, and it wasn't a stretch calling him the favorite going into the heads-up stage.
As the heads-up battle grew more intense, the rail also started the swell up as notable players like Pratyush Buddiga, Shyam Srinivasan, and Craig McCorkell supported Drinan versus the Polish contingent supporting Urbanovich that included Dominik Panka and Jose Carlos Garcia.
For the first hour of heads-up play Drinan maintained his chip lead, but Urbanovich chipped away at his American opponent the more Drinan couldn't get anything going. The first all-in pot occurred after almost two hours of play when Urbanovich put Drinan all in on the river. Drinan folded and was left behind with just 14 big blinds.
After getting down to just 11 big blinds, Drinan doubled up once, but he turned out to just be putting off the evil for another 30 minutes. On the final hand of the tournament, Urbanovich raised to 100,000 from the button, and Drinan shoved for about 700,000. Urbanovich called with pocket tens and held up against Drinan's nines. Drinan took home €397,800 for his amazing run, but it was Urbanovich who came out on top and took home the biggest score of his life worth €572,300.
Make sure to stay tuned to PokerNews.com, as we will do live coverage of both the inaugural Global Poker Masters, the EPT Malta €5,300 Main Event, and the €10,300 High Roller.