Marek Blaško has won the 888Live Festival Rozvadov Opening Event, taking home a first prize of €27,824 after outlasting a field of 783, the largest for an 888Live event to date.
Midway through today’s play, he said to aloud to his tablemates, “I like to play!” and judging by his performance today, not only does he like to play – he’s good at it too.
|4||Igor Grytsak||Czech Republic||€9,747|
|5||Alexis Loic Krauth||France||€7,644|
Over the course of the day’s play, Blaško used his chip stack to great effect, eliminating six players inside the top 20 on his way to a final table where he outlasted and outmaneuvered the other eight players. His confidence in big hands was most notably against Massimo Fuina and Igor Grytsak, but his shrewdness in the tight three-handed play was even better. At times he appeared to play each of his opponents off one another in his pursuit to dominate proceedings.
Railbirds were treated to some big pots early on.
By the end of play, it seemed almost an eternity ago that 150 players had sat down to start the day and railbirds were treated to some big pots early on. Day 1b chip leader Ruben Perez tangled with Juan Carlos Vecino. Perez would go on to hold around five percent of the chips in play, with 74 players remaining, but he would fade to finish in 19th place.
The money bubble itself lasted exactly one hand. The unfortunate bubble boy was Sergey Topchiy whose king-ten failed to catch up to Day 1a chip leader Bartosz Szafraniec’s ace-jack.
In fact, in addition to Szafraniec (12th – €537) and Perez (19th – €1,175), all four Day 1 chip leaders made the money, the other two being Simon Hoffmann (66th – €537) and Nadi Yusuf (30th – €769).
By the time it got to the final table, there was a veritable selection of characters. From the quiet Andraz Zaplotnik, who earlier had tripled up with queens against two players holding ace-king, to the unorthodox approach of Russia's Alexander Dmitrienko.
And who could forget the boisterous ‘El Magico’ figure of Huseyn Erbay, who took great joy in announcing that it was ‘King’s Casino Luck’ which brought him such a deep run. All of them played a part in the proceedings, but it was Blaško who was headlining, helped along by the likes of Massimo Fuina and Grytsak.
Two big hands helped cement Blaško's position as head honcho at the final table. With the pair first and second in chips, Blaško found a call with ace-king on a king-high board against the pocket jacks of Fuina. Then, after Fuina had been eliminated in sixth place, Blaško pulled a similar move in getting maximum value from a turned full house against Grytsak.
Grytsak will feel hard done by to have not gone further than fourth after his jacks were cracked by ace-jack. Similarly, Thorsten Fleischhut was second in the chip counts for a long time, before finally getting caught out twice by eventual runner-up Uwe Fritzenschaft.
When Blaško reached the heads-up against the stocky German Fritzenschaft, the two players considered a deal which would give Blaško $25,216 and Fritzenschaft 20,000.
"I don’t care about the money, definitely not €2,500."
“Well?” asked Blaško.
"Let’s play," came the reply from Fritzenschaft. "I don’t care about the money, definitely not €2,500."
The two continued to battle it out, with Fritzenschaft gaining ground on his opponent who at one point remarked, “I’m playing really bad,” as the day’s long play perhaps caught up with him.
Fritzenschaft grew in confidence but never making up quite enough of ground on his Slovakian counterpart. In the final hand, Fritzenschaft found sixes but failed to crack Blaško’s kings and Blaško headed to the cage to collect first-place prize money.
"So Marek, €25/€50 tomorrow? €50/100?" asked one of his friends. Blaško grinned. Who knows whether Blaško will play cash with this money; all we do know is that he certainly loves to play.
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