Catalin Pop took down the 888Live Rozvadov Main Event and won €80,000 after beating a total field of 531 players that wound down to a final table with some of the top professional players.
The Romanian came into the day fourth in chips but used a cool-headed mix of well-timed bluffs, strategic play and an infectious smile to secure himself the five-figure payday. Also making the final table were the two Scottish players; Niall Farrell and Ludovic Geilich who finished in third and fourth, respectively. Russian Alexander Dmitrienko added another seventh-place finish to the one he achieved in the 888Live Opening Event last week.
|3||Niall Farrell||United Kingdom||€36,113|
|4||Ludovic Geilich||United Kingdom||€29,184|
|6||Juan Carlos Vecino||Spain||€17,730|
|8||Pavel Berka||Czech Republic||€9,619|
The final day in a word? Roller coaster.
Chips were flying back and forth between many players but primarily between Ludovic Geilich, Niall Farrell, and eventual winner Pop. Pavel Berka was the first elimination of the day. He came into the day seventh in chips and ran his sixes into Geilich’s sevens. With Geilich chip leader coming into the day, the Scottish pro wasn’t holding back. His adage was that in order to win chips, you have to bet chips and he certainly lived up to that during the first two levels.
Geilich strengthened his lead eliminating Dmitrienko in seventh (€13,247) and Juan Carlos Vecino in sixth (€17,730), but as the final table went on, things took a turn. In one of the hands of the day, Pop bluffed Geilich off of pocket sevens with just ace-high.
The next elimination was a big one and it moved Geilich’s fellow Scot Farrell to the top of the chip counts. After Lukasz Tomecki moved all in for 22 big blinds from the button with king-jack, Farrell called from the big blind with ace-seven and it held to boost his stack of 5,000,000.
Geilich was next to go. Pop limped with pocket queens on the button and Geilich raised with ace-five. Pop four-bet and Geilich five-bet all in. Pop snap-called and Geilich hit the rail in fourth (29,184) when he couldn't hit an ace.
With that Pop moved into the chip lead, a position he wouldn’t relinquish between then and the end of the tournament. He cracked Farrell’s jacks with pocket fives to bust Farrel and then would battle for the title against Bernd Schonwalder.
Schonwalder, an online qualifier who came into the day last in chips, utilised a mix of clever tight play and well-timed aggression to ladder his way up past the establish pros and into heads-up match against Pop for the €80,000 first prize.
However, it wasn’t meant to be for Schonwalder, who got blown away by the enigmatic Romanian who played the final table with a smile on his face. He joked back and forth with Farrell and Geilich.
He smiled with Spaniard Vecino seated to his immediate right. Pop entered the Opening Event of the 888Live Festival, but failed to cash. As is the case with most things in life, it seemed that Pop saved the best till last as it was with this victory.