After two fifth-place finishes in European Poker Tour main events, and both a World Poker Tour and World Series of Poker final table, Rainer Kempe won the biggest tournament of his poker career by taking down the EPT12 Prague €25,000 Single-Day High Roller for €539,000 after a grueling 15-hour day on Friday. Kempe battled through a stacked field of 80 entries that created a massive prize pool worth just shy of two-million euros to beat Frenchman Jean-Noel Thorel heads up.
The day started out with a calm before the storm, as the high rollers took it easy for the first few levels. As registration closed after the eighth level, the tournament saw a flurry of eliminations that didn't slow until there were just two tables left.
Among the players that had short-lived hopes in the event were Team PokerStars Pros Andre Akkari, Liv Boeree and Jason Mercier; former EPT winners Davidi Kitai, Kevin MacPhee and Martin Finger; current GPI Player of the Year leader Byron Kaverman, and second place Anthony Zinno.
As the money approached, Tobias Reinkemeier and Adrian Mateos emerged as chip leaders, while EPT12 Prague €50,000 Super High Roller winner Steve O'Dwyer was also in contention. However, O'Dwyer was the first player to get knocked out in the money, taking home €49,000 for finishing in eleventh place.
After Vladimir Troyanovskiy was knocked out in tenth for €49,000, the final nine redrew for seats at the final table.
|1||David Yan||New Zealand||480,000|
|2||Kitson Kho||Hong Kong||1,000,000|
|5||Luuk Gieles||The Netherlands||470,000|
Piotr Franczak was knocked out in ninth place for €55,850 when his ace-jack failed to improve against Kitson Kho's ace-king suited. Four double ups in a row followed before Dutchman Luuk Gieles, who had made the Super High Roller final table the day prior, was knocked out in eight place. Gieles took home €73,500 for his final table run after he busted with ace-nine against Thorel's sevens.
The early chip leader, Reinkemeier, was the next to go in seventh for €94,050. Once again it was Thorel who did the damage, as the Frenchman watched his ace-nine hold against the German's nine-eight.
Kho, who came over from Hong Kong for the tournament series, got knocked out in sixth place for €119,550. Kho endured massive swings, and was all in on the money bubble for his tournament life. He ultimately got knocked out holding queen-six against Kempe's ten-five suited. The flop gave Kho a pair, but Kempe caught one as well and turned it into two pair on the river.
It took less than nine minutes to get from six players down to four, as David Yan busted on the following hand to Kempe. In a preflop all in, Kempe held king-queen against Yan's ace-six, but the flop brought two queens to send Yan to the rail collecting €152,900.
In the following orbits Thorel extended his chip lead, while the only remaining EPT champion struggled. Mateos was ultimately knocked out by Thorel in fourth when he was all in for his final three big blinds with six-three offsuit against king-ten. Mateos added another €193,050 to his impressive poker resumé, while Thorel took a massive lead into the three-way battle.
Deal talks by both Kempe and Ramin Hajiyev were quickly dismissed by the French businessman and poker enthusiast, and shortly thereafter Hajiyev hit the rail. The man from Azerbaijan ran ace-jack into Kempe's ace-queen and he took home €250,900 for his third-place finish.
Thorel started with the lead heads up, but lost it several times during the one-hour battle. Kempe won a few big pots, while Thorel kept winning the small ones to keep the stacks nearly even for quite some time.
Then the hand that changed it all happened. Thorel raised before the flop, and bet all three streets on queen-three-three-eight-five, as he put Kempe all in on the river. Kempe tanked for quite some time, but eventually he called for his tournament life with ace-ten, for just ace-high. Thorel had king-ten suited for the missed flush draw, and his hand ended up in the muck. On the very next hand he got knocked out when his queen-nine was out flopped by Kempe's jack-ten.
Thorel, who had declined deal talks earlier, took home €383,200 for his second-place finish, the biggest score in all his years playing poker.
|5||David Yan||New Zealand||€152,900|
|6||Kitson Kho||Hong Kong||€119,550|
|8||Luuk Gieles||The Netherlands||€73,500|
After the last card hit the river Kempe celebrated with his rail, as he will have €539,000 reasons to be happy after this huge victory. Stay tuned to PokerNews.com for more coverage of EPT 12 Prague, as the Main Event continues at 12:00 p.m. CET on Saturday.