This has been one of the most exciting final tables we've seen at any EPT, and a worthy conclusion to the inaugural EPT Tallinn, featuring as it did Team PokerStars Pro Arnaud Mattern, Italian EPT veteran Nicolo Calia and popular Dutch pro Steven van Zadelhoff. After eight hours of fast-paced play, young online qualifier Kevin Stani from Norway has finally triumphed to join Mattern in the exclusive EPT champions' club.
The top three players in the chip counts had around three quarters of the chips in play at the start of the day, and indeed they would end up taking first, second and third place after the swift eliminations of the five short stacks. However, the order in which they finished did not ultimately reflect their stack sizes at the start of the day, and Stani, who started the day second in chips, got to take home the trophy.
All eyes around the final table when play began were on French Team PokerStars Pro Arnaud Mattern. Given that he was the chip leader with 30% of the chips in play, he looked to be in a great position to become the first ever double EPT winner - having taken down EPT Prague in 2007, as well as finalling EPT Warsaw in 2008, he was both the most most familiar face at the table, and the most experienced man when it came to the live endgame. However, Arnaud found himself the shortest stack three-way after a huge bluff from Stani. Mattern got his whole remaining stack in a short while later with pocket queens against Stani's pocket threes, and following a cruel three on the turn, Mattern had to settle for third place.
Stani had a 2:1 chip lead when they went heads up, and his opponent, 22-year-old Russian Konstantin Bilyauer, never managed to get ahead. Bilyauer was short for some time when he called all in on the final hand, and once it became apparent that Stani was holding the nuts, he had to settle for second. Still, this represents an astounding first cash for the young player who was taking part in only his second ever live tournament.
Although this is his first big live win, Stani is no stranger to poker success. He won the Sunday 500 on PokerStars for around $100,000 a year ago, and enjoyed a fifth place finish for $130,000 in the WCOOP High Roller event last year, and he went deep into the money at this year's WSOP Main Event, eventually finishing in 127th place. Having already proved himself a player to watch, he has now cemented his position in the upper echelons of the poker firmament.
It has been a great week here for poker in Estonia, and a fine time truly has been had by all. Many thanks to all at the Olympic Casino and the Swissotel Tallin, and of course thanks to all at PokerStars. From PokerNews.com in Tallinn, it's aitäh, as they say in Estonian, and goodnight.