French pro Thomas Bichon outlasted a field of 181 players to win the inaugural World Poker Tour (WPT) Merit Cypus Classic on Sunday. Bichon collected his first WPT title and a prize of $579,165 after six days of grueling play.
The event, held at the luxurious travel destination in the Mediterranean, attracted many of the game’s most familiar names, including Patrik Antonius, Allen Cunningham, John Juanda, Mike Matusow, Eli Elezra, Chris “Jesus” Ferguson, Annette Obrestad, Jeffrey Lisandro, Dan Harrington, Huck Seed, Antonio Esfandiari, Layne Flack, and November Nine member James Akenhead.
Day 1A of the event brought together 91 players and John Tabatabai ended play with the lead, bagging up 178,275 chips. Ludovic Lacay (140,780) and Tommy Vedes (122,125) trailed Tabatabai on the leaderboard. Day 1B drew another 90 entrants, generating a total prize pool of $1,755,700. Phil Gordon led the way as play ended with 157,000 chips. Jan Skampa (156,000) and Andreas Haden (138,000) finished close on his heels.
The 125 survivors from Day 1 joined together on Day 2 and more than half the field perished, including Tabatabai and Gordon. Leading the 55 players that survived the day was Nenad Medic with 277,000. Medic made a strong push at the end of the night to pass Rony Jazzar and Antony Lellouche for the chip lead. Other survivors in good shape were Vedes, Huck Seed, and Flack.
Day 3 played down to the final 21 before play concluded and, this time, it was Flack who soared to the chip lead, holding 915,000. Rep Porter was second going into Day 4 with 812,000, while Seed, Flack, Jazzar, Medic, and Jonathan “FieryJustice” Little were among the top 10.
With the top 18 players making money, it took just two levels to burst the bubble on Day 5. The unfortunate player left out was Anthony Aboukhalil, who moved all-in for his last 20,000 chips with Kc-6c and was called by Antony Lellouche’s As-Qh. The board was no help to Aboukhalil and he was eliminated in 19th place on the money bubble.
Day 5 wasn’t kind to the big names left in the field. Flack was the first to go in 10th place ($20,760); he was followed by Medic (ninth for $27,680) and Little (eighth for ($38,940). With the final table just one spot away, Huck Seed pushed the last of his stack in with Ad-Jd and Thomas Bichon called with Ks-Qd. Seed was left drawing thin after a Queen hit the flop and he was unable to improve, leaving the tournament in seventh place for $56,240.
The final six were in place for Sunday’s final table. Here’s how it looked going into the day:
Seat1: Thomas Bichon - 1.08 million
Seat 2: Steve Fung - 732,000
Seat 3: Uri Keidar - 1.75 million
Seat 4: Rony Jazzar - 1.80 million
Seat 5: Janar Kiivramees - 727,000
Seat 6: Rep Porter - 1.12 million
Jazar was the first casualty of the final table. On a board of Qs-7s-2h-5d, Jazzar pushed all-in with Kc-Qd for top pair and Keidar called with 8s-6s for flush and straight draws. The 10s river gave Keidar his flush and Jazzar was sent to the rail with $73,535.
Play slowed down quite a bit after Jazzar’s elimination, but Kiivramees (fifth place, $90,835) and Porter (fourth, $121,115) were the next to exit. Porter doubled his short stack several times, but eventually Keidar finished him off when Uri’s Ah-9h held up against Porter’s Kh-Jh. Keidar increased his stack to 1.6 million, but was well behind Bichon, the leader with more than five million. Meanwhile, Fung was nursing a 500,000 chip stack.
With the blinds eating away at his stack, Fung was forced to call an all-in bet out of the big blind with 9d-5d and found himself in bad shape against the Jd-5c of Bichon. Fung’s hand failed to get better and he exited with $216,275 for his third place finish.
Heads-up play between Bichon and Keidar lasted just two hands. First, Bichon limped on the button and Keidar pushed, inducing a fold from Bichon. On the second hand, with Bichon holding more than a 3-1 edge, Keidar raised to 350,000 and Bichon moved all-in. Keidar took some time before calling off his remaining 1.4 million with Jh-10d and was in a coin flip situation against Bichon’s pocket sevens.
Bichon took control when the flop brought As-Ks-7c, giving him a set and leaving Keidar needing a queen to stay alive. The 10h turn and 3s river were no help to Keidar and Bichon was crowned the champion of the inaugural WPT Merit Cyprus Classic. Here were the final results:
1st Place: Thomas Bichon - $579,165
2nd Place: Uri Keidar - $380,645
3rd Place: Steven Fung - $216,275
4th Place: Rep Porter - $121,115
5th Place: Janar Kiivramees - $90,835
6th Place: Rony Jazzar - $73,535 (Credit: Poker News Daily)
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