The 2021 World Series of Poker Europe has crowned the third champion at the King's Resort in Rozvadov. In a battle of Slovakians, Samuel Stranak prevailed against Alan Sabo in Event #4: €2,000 Pot-Limit Omaha and collected his first gold bracelet along with the top prize of €101,764. Both close friends battled for the first-ever gold bracelet for their home country with the better end for Stranak in a very entertaining and jovial heads-up duel.
The tournament attracted a field of 241 entries and the €423,557 prize pool was divided among the top 37 finishers. Notables on the final table included the UK's Ian Bradley, Amir Mozaffarian, and Krasimir Yankov.
Final Table Result Event #4: €2,000 Pot-Limit Omaha
|Place||Winner||Country||Prize (in EUR)|
|3||Ian Bradley||United Kingdom||€44,044|
|8||Ermanno Di Nicola||Italy||€10,185|
Eventual champion Stranak did the lion's share of the work en route to victory after knocking out seven of his last eight opponents on the feature table of Europe's biggest poker arena. Prior to his win, the 24-year-old scientist from Bratislava only had four recorded MTT cashes to his name while the one year older Sabo earned several WSOP Online cashes throughout the last two years.
Both had been playing against each other in cash games prior but it was the first time they participated in the same tournament together and that made the duel for the title and glory even more special.
"We were joking about it before but what are the odds? One million to one?" a delighted Stranak said while his buddy chimed in. "It was an amazing experience, I almost cried when I got heads-up with this guy. I am sad that I didn't get the bracelet but I am very happy for him," runner-up Sabo said during the joint winner interview with the two Slovakians.
Both didn't hold back when battling with each other even prior to the heads-up and Stranak had Sabo at risk during three-handed play only to see his friend turn an unlikely full house to survive. In the heads-up itself, it was Sabo who pulled away but a gutsy bluff didn't get through to shift the momentum towards Stranak.
"Ranges? I think it was the Gin Tonic we had before the hand. I don't know if I can talk strategy, I don't even know what I was thinking," Stranak joked when asked about his hero-call with just a pair of jacks. Sabo didn't quite agree with that but couldn't stop himself from grinning just like he did when being caught with the fingers in the cookie jar.
Both admitted that they prefer Pot-Limit Omaha while playing "Hold'em for fun" and will likely ride the wave to participate in further events during the ongoing 2021 WSOPE festival. But first, there is one day of rest and some partying planned to celebrate the occasion.
Big Names Fall Early on the Final Day
The final day started with 46 players still in contention and just 37 of them made the money. Sabo was among the bigger stacks right from the start and received a massive boost when he sent 2019 runner-up Omar Eljach to the rail. Jan-Peter Jachtmann was also among the casualties prior to the money and defending champion Tomas Ribeiro was then eliminated on the money bubble.
Other notables who cashed but failed to make the final table were Abdelhakim Zoufri, Mick Heder, Tomasz Gluszko, and Vivian Saliba. Stranak started his rise on the leaderboard with several double-ups soon after the bubble had burst and built a larger stack on the final two tables. Leonid Yanovski and Richard Toth were eliminated just shy of the final table while Sabo and Stranak surpassed the red-hot running Ian Bradley at the top of the leaderboard.
Stranak Dominates Final Table
When the final nine players combined to one table, it was Stranak to draw the first blood and eliminate a short-stacked Andriy Lyubovetskiy. It was a sign of things to come as the only finalist to not bust against Stranak from there on was seventh-place finisher Stanislav Parkhomenko. For example, Krasimir Yankov as arguably one of the most experienced contenders still in the mix, took a stand with a suited broadway combo but Stranak came out on top with two pair.
Amir Mozaffarian chipped up to threaten the top spot of the Slovakian but saw his hopes vanish in a large clash, which sent Stranak into an overwhelming lead. His run-good continued shortly after when he made a superior full house against Vasil Medarov.
Three-handed play turned out to be a far bigger challenge as the two Slovakians battled back and forth while Bradley doubled twice and even took the lead for a short period. However, he was then caught with a move holding pocket kings on an ace-high flop as Stranak looked him up with the top pair and secured the all-Slovakian heads-up duel.
The banter between the two countrymen was flowing back and forth, and it was Stranak who came out on top.
This wraps up the PokerNews coverage for this event but the live reporting team provides updates from all 15 WSOP gold bracelet events during the 2021 World Series of Poker Europe until December 8, 2021.