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Vladimir Shabalin Wins the 2018 WSOP International Circuit Marrakech Main Event

Vladimir Shabalin

Vladimir Shabalin has won the 2018 WSOP International Circuit Main Event after almost 14 grueling hours of play. Shabalin beat 485 other players in Casino de Marrakech to bring the coveted gold WSOP Circuit Ring and a whopping 1,300,000 MAD (€114,367 / $142,033) back home with him. Runner-up was the last French hope, Rony Halimi, a regular on the poker circuit.

"Even if I lost that hand, I would have won anyway, I played so much better."

Shabalin is a professional poker player who has been playing for about eight years. He started playing more live tournaments over the past years with his first live cash being recorded in January of 2016. Shabalin claimed the money didn't mean much to him, it was all about the gold WSOP Circuit Ring for him.

“I was very tired after playing for more than 13 hours," Shabalin said after the tournament was over. "In that final hand, on the flop, I think I had like 3 or 4% or something? Even if I lost that hand, I would have won anyway, I played so much better. I am very happy. I play online normally, but it has no soul, you don’t see emotions. In live poker, you can see when you have your opponent dominated. You can see them. I want to play more; it’s my dream. I love football; you see players like Messi and Ronaldo with big trophies, huge emotions when they win. Poker is not exactly the same, but I want something like that. This ring is the most important win for now. Until the next one!” the Russian concluded.

PositionPlayerCountryPrize in MADPrize in €Prize in $
1Vladimir ShabalinRussiaMAD1,300,000€114,367$142,033
2Rony HalimiFranceMAD890,000€78,309$97,238
3Joseph NassarLebanonMAD635,000€55,872$69,390
6Mohamed JhiderFranceMAD269,000€23,662$29,386
8Polo SantoniFranceMAD168,000€14,777$18,353
9Nicolas NogueraFranceMAD135,000€11,874$14,748

Sixteen players returned for the final day of the Main Event. They were 25 minutes to finish in the penultimate day's final level, as bust outs went faster than initially anticipated. Compared to Day 2, things started off at a slow pace on the final day. However, as soon as the second level of the day had started, the first elimination could be noted. Antoine Rahal was Shabalin’s first victim of the day when he ran his ace-queen into the ace-king of the Russian.

2017 WSOP International Circuit Paris Main Event Runner-up Pierre Merlin fell when he ran ace-king ran into the pocket queens of "NFJM."

One of the more bizarre hands of the day was a three-way all-in situation between Polo Santoni, HCC and Roger Tondeur. Tondeur had pocket fives against the pocket aces of HCC and the pocket jacks of Santoni. Santoni flopped quads to eliminate Tondeur and leave "HCC" behind with about 11 big blinds. About half an hour later, Santoni dealt the final blow to "HCC" when his jack-ten won against pocket fours.

When the levels increased from 60 to 75 minutes each, the next Spaniard, Nathan, was eliminated in 12th place when his ace-ten couldn’t win against the ace-jack of Mounim Kaddouri. Shlomo Ohana missed his flush draw and lost to the two pair of Joseph Nassar to finish in eleventh place. The final table bubble boy ended up being Kaddouri when he shoved around twelve big blinds with ace-ten into the ace-queen of Paul.

Once the final table had been set, it took around 20 minutes before 2016 WSOP International Circuit Paris Main Event winner Nicolas Noguera was eliminated when his ace-ten couldn’t win against the pocket kings of Shabalin.

Heads-up, Shabalin had almost four times as much as Halimi, and he wasn’t scared to use that to his advantage.

After almost three hours of eight-handed play, Santono was the next to leave. The Frenchman held ace-king against the pocket nines of Paul. The flop gave him a king as the window card but it also gave Paul two more nines, and another flopped quads. Twenty minutes later, TMV was sent packing when another ace-king couldn’t win. Halimi held ace-queen and hit his queen on the flop and turn to eliminate TMV in 7th place. Almost three hours later (including a break), Mohamed Jhider lost with king-nine against the ace-queen of NFJM to finish 6th.

"NFJM" found his Waterloo 90 minutes later when another ace-king didn’t bring a win as the king-jack of Shabalin hit another jack on the flop to give him a pair. The table didn’t even have time to recover, and Paul was sent to the rail by Shabalin. Paul’s ace-eight didn’t manage to beat the ace-king of Shabalin, and he was sent home in fourth place. It then took another two hours for Nassar to lose in a three-way all-in pot. Nassar held king-nine against the ace-queen of Halimi and the king-jack of Shabalin. Halimi won the hand, and the leftovers went Shabalin’s way in the end.

Heads-up, Shabalin had almost four times as much as Halimi, and he wasn’t scared to use that to his advantage. Halimi didn’t get any chances to double up and the one time his all in did get called, he ran his ace-queen into the king-trey of Shabalin who hit a runner-runner straight to eliminate Halimi in second place.

The PokerNews team wants to thank you for following the updates and say goodbye to you for now from the beautiful Es Saadi Resort here in Marrakech. See you soon!

Es Saadi Marrakech Resort
Es Saadi Marrakech Resort
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