Canadian poker player Ben Wilinofsky came through a field of 773 players to win the €825,000 first prize at the European Poker Tour in Berlin hosted at the Spielbank Casino. Buy-in for the tournament was €5,000 plus €300 and it was one of the most highly anticipated legs of the European Poker Tour yet.
The reason for this being that EPT Berlin was looking to overcome the dark cloud that shrouded the tournament last year when it was the victim of a disgraceful robbery which saw the culprits steal €242,000. The perpetrators were caught days later and given a prison sentence. This tournament banished the memory of this sore event and brought the excitement back into the Berlin leg of the European Poker Tour.
The tournament attracted some famous names from the world of poker, sport and entertainment. However, the field was filtered down to an elite group of eight players. Jonas Gutteck finished in 8th position on the final table. He was swiftly followed through the tournament exit door by Joep van den Bijaart, Darren Kramer, Armin Mette and Martin Jacobson. Jacobson was a fans’ favorite after earning a reputation as a perennial nearly man.
This left just three men. Vadzim Kursevich, Ben Wilinofsky and German national Max Heinzelmann were the big names and it was Kursevich who was eliminated first. Wilinofsky ensured he had too much for the Belgian who took away €300,000 for his troubles. This meant it was the German hero against the Canadian gate crasher. There was only one man the home fans wanted to win. Sadly, it was not to be the fairytale ending that the crowd wanted. The decisive hand came when a flop of 8 of spades, 5 of clubs and 3 of diamonds came down. Heinzelmann bet and Wilinofsky raised it before Heinzelmann re-raised for all-in. Wilinofsky turned over an open-ended straight draw with the 6 of diamonds and 7 of hearts. Heinzelmann had a 9 and 8 of hearts. The German had the upper hand with a top pair. Wilinofsky hit what he needed on the turn with a 9 of spades to hit the straight he needed. The river was a Jack of hearts to seal the Canadian’s victory on Heinzelmann’s own turf.
The victory was one that showed a new generation of player continues to come through. The final table was full of fresh talent and the EPT Berlin 2011 has been a superb event for new names to make a mark. It was a shame that Martin Jacobson could not get that elusive victory he craves but make no mistake; this tournament was all about Ben Wilinofsky.