Ihar Soika had one heck of a day on the felt. After beginning fourth in chips out of the final 21 players, the man from Belarus emerged victorious to claim the trophy and top prize of €747,200.
A massive 393 entries were tallied in this event, smashing all previous records for an EPT high roller event. With just three tables left on Day 3 and the field well into the money, the stage was set for a great day of poker. With players such as Jason Mercier, Juha Helppi, Nicolas Chouity, Dario Sammartino, Stephen Chidwick, Ami Barer, and Marc-Andre Ladouceur all still alive and well, it was anyone's game.
Angel Guillen busted straight away, and he was followed out the door by Vladimir Troyanovskiy in 20th place and Chouity in 19th. A few more eliminations happened from there, including Helppi in 17th place, before the tournament hit a standstill with 15 players remaining. It took awhile to find the 15th-place finished, and that proved to be Italy's Sammartino.
Then it was Joao Vieira, Agshin Rasulov, Dylan Linde, Alexander Roumeliotis, and Dmitry Yurasov all falling in that order to reach the final nine-handed table. After Maxim Panyak hit the rail in ninth, taking home €73,600 for his efforts, the official final table was set.
Soika had quite the chip lead when the final table was reached, and he only improved from there. He built, built, and built right from the start of the day and watched as others hit the rail. At several points of the final table, Soika had sometimes 30% or more of the chips in play — an amazing feat considering he had this amount when play was still six-, seven-, and eight-handed at times.
Carlos Chadha finished in eighth, Chidwick busted in seventh place, Ladouceur took sixth, Benjamin Pollak finish fifth, and then Ami Barer ended up fourth. Ismail Erkenov, who had battled with Soika many times during the day, eventually fell to the man who would go on to win.
Soika had the lead going into heads-up play, and he never looked back. On the final hand, Mercier was all in with the against the for Soika. The board ran out , and that was the end of the line for the Team PokerStars Pro.
Final Table Results
Congratulations to Soika, who earned a massive payday and his first-ever six-figure score. He topped the biggest EPT high roller field in history and will forever be etched in history because of it.