The 2019 PokerStars EPT Open Sochi festival is a wrap and the RUB133,000 Main Event (~$2,040) has crowned a champion in a field of 879 entries. On his third trip to the stunning Casino Sochi, China's Yi Ye claimed the lion's share of the RUB103,370,400 (more than $1.6 million) prize pool after defeating Giorgiy Skhulukhiya in heads-up to take home the trophy and top prize of RUB19,306,000.
Ye had already cashed in his previous two trips to Sochi including a 60th place in the inaugural EPT Open Main Event and a third place in a side event of the 2019 EPT Sochi festival. The 40-year-old hails from Chengdu, the capital of southwestern China's Sichuan province, and has been playing poker for seven years. Around one and a half years ago, he switched from cash games to tournaments and that decision has definitely paid off.
Initially, his plan was to try and claim the coveted Platinum Pass for the 2020 PokerStars Players NL Hold'em Championship (PSPC) in Barcelona but never had a chance to play in the RUB10,500 "Moneymaker's Road to PSPC". He also overcame a big language barrier as all other finalists were native Russian speakers, and defeated Giorgiy Skhulukhiya in heads-up.
Skhulukhiya came fresh off a victory in a High Roller Event on Cyprus and narrowly missed out on a new career-best score on the live circuit. Natalia Panchenko put up a fierce fight and finished in 3rd place, while former Casino Sochi floor staff member Lidiya Kozenkov ended up in 4th place. Egor Sukhov had to settle for 5th place and the first casualty of the six-handed final day was local player Abdul Mamin Abdal Ali Han.
Final Result 2019 EPT Open Sochi Main Event
|Place||Winner||Country||Prize (in CSU)||Prize (in RUB)||Prize (~ in USD)|
|1||Yi Ye||China||275,800||19,306,000 ₽||$301,378|
|2||Giorgiy Skhulukhiya||Russia||167,460||11,722,200 ₽||$182,991|
|3||Natalia Panchenko||Russia||118,140||8,269,800 ₽||$129,097|
|4||Lidiya Kozenkova||Ukraine||88,600||6,202,000 ₽||$96,817|
|5||Egor Sukhov||Russia||69,850||4,889,500 ₽||$76,328|
|6||Abdul Mamin Abdal Ali Han||Russia||52,280||3,659,600 ₽||$57,129|
|7||Vladislav Petrov||Russia||36,770||2,573,900 ₽||$40,180|
|8||Boris Kitov||Russia||25,840||1,808,800 ₽||$28,236|
Note: CSU stands for Casino Sochi Unit and is equal to 70 Russian Rubles (RUB)
Only six players remained and Giorgiy Skhulukhiya was the dominating chip leader heading into the final day while all other remaining five hopefuls were bunched together within a few big blinds. The early action indicated a rather short day as Abdul Mamin Abdal Ali Han and Egor Sukhov headed to the rail in the first full level of the day. Skhulukhiya took a blow to his stack when he ran with ace-king into the aces of Lidiya Kozenkova but remained at the top of the counts.
What followed was a gruesome grind for the final four and the lead changed several times. Natalia Panchenko also doubled through Skhulukhiya and eventual champion Yi Ye then held up with queens against the ace-jack of Kozenkova to jump back into contention. It would take another three hours to lose a player and Kozenkova's move with ace-eight came at the wrong time, as Panchenko called with ace-queen to remain ahead with her kicker.
Slowly but surely, Skhulukhiya dropped out of the driver's seat and Panchenko took over, then Ye clawed his way to the top spot. The stack sizes were getting very even and first deal negotiations brought no result. Panchenko was left short, doubled and her hopes then vanished when an open-ended straight draw didn't get there against the trips of Ye.
Skhulukhiya and Ye discussed a possible deal once more but came to no agreement. The heads-up duel lasted all but two hands and a classic coinflip saw Ye ahead with sixes against king-queen. Once the six appeared on the turn, Ye locked up the victory. By the time the Chinese posed for the winner shots, the other two highlights of the final day in Sochi had also already determined their champions.
Sergey Konovalov Wins the RUB257,600 High Roller
There were 23 players remaining out of a field of 116 entries in the RUB257,600 High Roller and the top 17 spots were paid. Among others, well-known Russian players Andrey Pateychuk, Dmitry Yurasov, Gleb Tremzin, Vyacheslav Goryachev, and Aleksandr Merzhvinskiy cashed in the event. Konovalov took home a top prize of RUB6,813,800 after defeating Job Greben in heads-up.
Greben's brother Thom ran deep in the Main Event and finished 11th, Job took home RUB4,603,900 for his second place and fellow countryman Tobias Peters received RUB2,992,500 for third.
Vadim Gayduk Wins Platinum Pass in Moneymaker's Road to PSPC
Only 44 players out of a field of 909 total entries had survived their respective starting days in the bargain RUB10,500 Moneymaker's Road to PSPC Side Event and 26-year-old Vadim Gayduk from Belarus denied Narek Varderesyan heads up. On top of the RUB1,274,000 payout, he also received the Platinum Pass valued at more than €26,000 and will be heading to Barcelona in August 2020.
That wraps up the PokerNews live reporting from Sochi, but the 2019 World Series of Poker Europe at the King's Casino and Resort in Rozvadov is right around the corner.