With $5 Million in combined guarantees, the Merit Poker Classic ran a full roster of 40 action-packed events from May 2 to 12 at the Merit Crystal Cove Hotel and Casino in North Cyprus. The festival was organized by partypoker LIVE and Poker Club Management and closing out the stop was the $5,300 Main Event.
Last year the Main Event boasted of a $2 Million prize pool guarantee. This time around, the tournament organizers upped the guarantee to $3 Million. With 649 entries coming in via two flights, the prize pool collection fell just shy of the guarantee at $2,900,267 and taking down the title was local player Andreas Christoforou (cover image) who also won $565,157.
This was for Christoforou his biggest live cash to date, and he has with the win nearly doubled his total live winnings to climb up to second place among all tournament players in Cyprus.
It was by no means a comfortable ride to victory for Christoforou who had come into the final table as the second-shortest stack. A couple of double ups and right moves saw Christoforou through all the way to the heads-up play where he came up against Israel’s Liran Twito. Though Twito who had orchestrated four eliminations on the final table was the clear favorite, Christoforou turned the game around in his favor and defeated his opponent to claim the title.
The final day began with 16 survivors, and just a couple of hours later, the ten-handed final table was formed.
The final table was a star-studded affair with two partypoker pros Kristen Bicknell and Ludovic Geilich, as well as seasoned players like Basil Yaiche, Anton Morgenstern, Mustafa Biz, and Florian Duta, all in the mix.
Final Table Recap
Exiting the final table first were Florian Duta and Mustafa Biz who left in 10th and ninth place respectively.
It took more than three hours for the next elimination to come through, and it was well-known German pro Anton Morgenstern who fell out in eighth place after losing a classic flip with his ace-king falling to Twito’s pocket jacks.
Twito was in top form on the final table and drove out the majority of the final table players to the rail. He booted out Selahaddin Bedir in seventh place, outrunning Bedir’s pocket jacks with his pocket aces.
After the dinner break, final day chip leader Ludovic Geilich fell to Twito in sixth place when his jack-ten suited failed to improve against Twito’s ace-jack.
Just five minutes later, the field was narrowed down to four-handed play after Basil Yaiche found his pocket sixes dominated by Twito’s pocket eights, and left to collect the fifth place payout.
Twito was dominating the table with over half the chips in play, but it was Christoforou who took charge by eliminating Daniel Braude in fourth place.
The three remaining players were almost ready to strike a deal but decided to play out the current hand before entering negotiations. The hand brought about a crucial turnaround for Christoforou who doubled up from Twito to close the gap.
The three couldn’t reach a deal after that and play resumed.
Kristen Bicknell was the first of the trio to bust after she shoved all in with king-six but found a caller in Christoforou who tabled ace-ten.
Down to the heads-up play, Liran Twito and Christoforou briefly discussed the possibility of an ICM deal, but they couldn’t arrive at an agreement and once again play continued. The chip lead exchanged hands before Christoforou surged ahead. The final hand saw Christoforou raise to 2 Million from the button and Twito shoved for 22.3 Million. Christoforou made the call, and the cards were tabled.
Twito stayed ahead on the flop with the higher kicker, but Christoforou picked up additional flush draw outs. The turn completed Christoforou`s flush making the river a mere formality and just like that he eliminated Twito in second place to win his very first Merit Poker Classic Main Event title!
Final Table Results (USD)
Content & Images Courtesy: partypoker LIVE & PokerNews