On Saturday, Season 11 of the PokerStars European Poker Tour continued in Deauville, France, with the exciting conclusion of the €5,300 Main Event. In the end, it was Bulgaria's Ognyan Dimov who clawed to the top of the 592-player field to claim the championship, the SLYDE watch, and €543,700 in first-place prize money.
With the victory, Dimov became Bulgaria's second EPT champion, following in the footsteps of Dimitar Danchev. The country is now tied with Finland, Portugal, Lebanon, Belarus, and Italy for 11th place in terms of winners by country. The man Dimov defeated heads up, Dany Parlafes, entered the final table with a massive chip lead, but the Romanian was denied the country's first title in the end.
The day began with just six players in contention for the title and the name on everybody's lips was Parlafes. With such a large lead heading into Day 6, he seemed poised to continue his domination and take the country's first EPT title.
The fireworks came immediately, as the first elimination of the final table occurred on the first hand of the day. The action got serious when the ever-flamboyant Joseph Carlino three-bet all in before the flop after an open from Dimov and a call from Benjamin Buhr. Andrius Bielskis four-bet all in over the top from the big blind, pushing out both Dimov and Buhr. In the end, Carlino tabled ace-king and was looking to improve against Bielskis' pocket jacks to stay alive. Carlino failed to do so and was eliminated from play in sixth place for €115,650.
Despite eliminating Carlino from play, Bielskis became the next player to fall. The Lithuanian was only able to last 16 more hands before hitting the rail. Bielskis was unfortunate enough to shove over the top of an open from Buhr, only to find that the latter held the . Bielskis' was in dire need of improvement in order to stay alive and have a shot at the title. In the end, the board ran out and Bielskis was forced to settle for a fifth-place finish. It was not all bad news for Bielskis, however, as he was awarded €147,760 in prize money.
French professional poker player Benjamin Pollak was the next to go, falling victim to the wrath of start-of-day chip leader Parlafes. On his final hand, Pollak turned a straight and called all in for his own tournament life against a shove from Parlafes. Pollak was disappointed to find that Parlafes had flopped the nut straight with ace-king to put the nail in his coffin. Pollak, who was coming off of an 11th-place finish in the 2015 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure Main Event, took home €187,550 for his impressive fourth-place finish. All told, Pollak has earned over $300,000 from these two big results to kick off his year.
Buhr was the next player eliminated from the Main Event, hitting the rail exactly 20 hands after Pollak. Buhr was the victim of a tricky play from Dimov after the Bulgarian completed from the small blind with pocket aces. Buhr found ace-king in the big blind and came out with a raise. Dimov three-bet, Buhr four-bet shipped, and Dimov beat him into the pot. Buhr found himself in a bad spot and was unable to improve through the community cards. His elimination in third place propelled Parlafes and Dimov into heads-up play.
Parlafes and Dimov proceeded to engage in an astounding heads-up battle that lasted a total of 117 hands. Parlafes held the chip lead to begin the match, but Dimov found himself both playing optimally and landing on the right side of most of the boards. Roughly halfway through the match, Dimov seized the chip lead and never relented from that point on. Despite being unable to gain any momentum, Parlafes continued to play at a high level, even correctly folding the second nuts to Dimov's nut straight.
In the end, the match came to a head with blinds at 100,000/200,000/30,000. Parlafes opened his button to 425,000 only to have Dimov three-bet the action to 1 million. Parlafes moved all in for his last 5.21 million and Dimov called instantly with the . Parlafes had the .
Parlafes was in a dominating position and seemed ready to double into the chip lead. The dealer fanned a flop that read , giving Dimov a bit more hope to win the tournament outright with a heart or a jack on the following streets. There was no sweat from this point out, however, as the drilled the turn to give Dimov the winning nut flush. The completed the board and Parlafes became the runner-up. Parlafes collected €338,700 for his impressive finish.
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