Yury Masliankou Wins EPT National Sochi for ₽9,317,000 ($139,755)
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If Yury Masliankou's victory in the ₽77,000 EPT National Sochi was a boxing match, it was no first-round knockout, despite the Belarusian coming into the final day as chip leader and the favorite for the title.
Instead, it was a tumultuous affair which saw two other players hold the chip lead at different points of the final table, before culminating in an arduous tussle heads-up against Daniil Lukin.
Masliankou outlasted a field of 721 to take home ₽9,317,000 ($139,755), the biggest win of his career to date since a final table at Eureka Prague in 2016 netted him $96,025. He also becomes the second consecutive non-Russian to win this event after Matous Houzvicek triumphed twelve months ago.
2019 EPT National Sochi Final Table Results
|Position||Name||Country||Payout (CSU)||Payout (RUB)||Payout (USD)|
|1||Yury Masliankou||Belarus||133,100||9,317,000 ₽||$139,755|
|2||Daniil Lukin||Russia||81,500||5,705,000 ₽||$85,575|
|3||Alexandr Sergutin||Russia||58,100||4,067,000 ₽||$61,005|
|4||Kartik Ved||India||43,700||3,059,000 ₽||$45,885|
|5||Leonid Bilokur||Russia||34,400||2,408,000 ₽||$36,120|
|6||Andrey Lukyanov||Russia||25,800||1,806,000 ₽||$27,090|
|7||Giorgiy Skhulukhiya||Russia||18,500||1,295,000 ₽||$19,425|
|8||Sarkis Karabadzhakyan||Russia||12,700||889,000 ₽||$13,335|
Note: CSU stands for Casino Sochi Unit and is equal to 70 RUB
Final Table Action at EPT National Sochi
Runner-up Daniil Lukin started the day fourth in chips but was knocked down the standings with the early elimination of Sarkis Karabadzhakyan whose pocket sevens ran into the pocket kings of Alexandr Sergutin within the first level.
Giorgiy Skhulukhiya had been active early and had chipped up enough to begin challenging Masliankou for the title of chip leader. Yesterday, Skhulukhiya had been involved in a raising war with Masliankou, and today showed it was no sole occurrence as he went to war with Sergutin. After opening from the button and four-betting a raise from Sergutin in the small blind, Skhulukhiya snap-called his opponent's five-bet jam with pocket queens.
Sergutin's ace-king was behind, and as the flop and turn bricked, it wasn't looking good. But the king on the river allowed him to pull himself from the canvas and stay alive, doubling to over five million.
Skhulukhiya traded double-ups with Leonid Bilokur before the former became the second elimination of the day. He got his last eight big blinds in against Lukin and failed to survive. Two swiftly became three when Day 1a chip leader Andrey Lukyanov ran ace-seven into the pocket tens of Sergutin and received no help on the board.
All this meant that by the first break, start-of-day chip leader Masliankou and Sergutin were separated by just 5,000 chips at the top of the counts.
Both Bilokur and India's Kartik Ved had enjoyed quiet days, waiting for the optimum moment to get back into the contest. Ved thought he spied an opportunity against the aggressive Sergutin and shoved with just a pair of fours on a paired board. However, Sergutin held a pair of sixes and looked to press on further and dominate proceedings.
However, Ved spiked a two-outer to river a full house and double up. This miracle river seemed to spur on Masliankou more than anyone else, and perhaps sensing his chip lead under threat, he moved quickly and eliminated Bilokur in fifth place to grow his chip stack once more.
Having doubled up, Ved failed to make any proper inroads into Masliankou's chip lead and saw his stack dwindle until he limp-called a jam from Lukin in the big blind. Ved was ahead with ace-king, but Lukin's ace-ten suited turned a flush to send the Indian to the rail.
Sergutin had seemingly taken a couple of rounds to recover from the Ved river hand but now seemed rejuvenated and once more was involved in what seemed a pivotal pot.
He bet-jammed a king-high flop with top pair and a flush draw against Masliankou who called with just top pair. The turn gave Masliankou two pair, but Sergutin managed to find a better two pair on the river to move over nine million.
But Masliankou had seen the whites of Sergutin's eyes and now was out for blood. First, Masliankou returned to the top of the chip counts after calling Sergutin's river bluff with a rivered straight, and next, he finished him off. Getting it in behind with just a pair and a straight draw against Sergutin's set, he rivered a second straight to eliminate Sergutin and take a healthy chip lead into heads-up.
There was a balanced start to heads-up play, with both players winning small pots off one another. But as the contest drew on, it almost appeared that Lukin was using Muhammad Ali's famous rope-a-dope strategy; absorbing blows and letting his opponents fatigue themselves.
That certainly seemed to be the case as Lukin opted for staying alive as opposed to making any serious dent in Masliankou's chip lead. He seemed content to sit with a stack of six to seven million compared to his opponent's 14-15 million and wait for his opening.
However, it was Masliankou who had his opponent down for the count first. Getting it in on a five-six-eight flop, Masliankou had flopped a straight against the seven-eight of Lukin. You could almost picture the referee counting Lukin out as the turn bricked, but the river gave both players a straight and they chopped it up.
A let-off but as it turned out a short one, as Masliankou pushed forward. Suddenly, Lukin's chip stack shrunk from thirty big blinds at the time of the chop, to just twenty. Sergutin's legs had gone from underneath him and when Masliankou shoved, he sounded almost relieved to get his last 15 big blinds in.
He was behind, he failed to improve, and Masliankou was declared the winner.
Will Shillibier is based in the United Kingdom. He started working for PokerNews as a freelance live reporter in 2015 and joined the full-time staff in 2019. He graduated from the University of Kent in 2017 with a B.A. in German. He also holds an NCTJ Diploma in Sports Journalism.