The final day of the 2015 PokerStars.com EPT Season 12 Malta Main Event started out with just six players, all competing for that first-place prize of over €600,000.
Once the final card was dealt, the Alberta-residing Scot, Niall Farrell, had found his first European Poker Tour (EPT) title. Farrell spends most of his time in Calgary and is a regular in the local poker community when he isn't travelling for poker tours. His previous best live cash was his near bracelet win in 2013 at the World Series of Poker, earning $355,815 for finishing second.
Playing online as 'firaldo87', Farrell also has more than $2 million in online winnings including a win in the Full Tilt Online Poker Series (FTOPS) Main Event in April of 2014, followed by his second FTOPS jersey in Event #24 in the December series.
The action was extremely fast paced, with players busting out almost every other orbit. Before the first break in the EPT Main Event, the tournament was down to just four players and it was Canada's own Sam Greenwood who was the first to go. He became the shortest stack after missing a flush draw with queen-three suited. He eventually got it in with king-jack suited against Farrell's button raise. Farrell had ace-seven suited and the ace on the turn left Greenwood drawing dead. After already finishing sixth for €110,590 in the €25,000 High Roller earlier this week, he now had to settle for €125,660 for his sixth-place finish in the Main Event to cap a great series for the Greenwood brother.
Rainer Kempe got eliminated eight hands later. Farrell, who had already played his fair share of hands at the final table by then, raised it up under the gun. Kempe looked down at queens in the cutoff and three-bet. Farrell four-bet shoved and Kempe called it off. Farrell had pocket aces and, five community cards later, Kempe hit the rail. After finishing fifth in the EPT 12 Barcelona Main Event for €320,400, Kempe, who became just the eighth person to make back-to-back EPT Main Event final tables, exited again in fifth place, this time for €161,340.
It wasn't long after the first break was done that Giulio Spampinato made his exit in fourth place. The Italian qualifier, who's biggest cash in his poker career was $17,000 before this event, reshoved on Farrell's button open with ace-eight. Alen Bilic woke up with pocket tens in the big blind and made the call, which prompted Farrell to get out of the way. A board full of blanks followed and Spampinato collected €265,840 for his performance.
Two hands later, Jaroslaw Sikora got into a blind battle with Farrell. Sikora limp-shoved for 1.585 million with ace-ten from the small blind. Farrell again had a big hand and called with ace-jack. Another black board failed to improved either player and Sikora made his way to the payout desk to collect €265,840 for his third-place finish.
The two remaining players agreed to a deal within minutes after Sikora's bust-out. Farrell, who held a slight chip lead, locked up €444,300, Bilic guaranteed himself €440,000, and the two agreed to play for the trophy and €90,000.
Despite the fact a deal was made, it was nowhere near over. There was still lots of money on the line, and the stacks were deep for both players. The two started out almost even, and the chip lead shifted a couple times before Farrell won a couple medium pots in a row and distanced himself from Bilic.
In Hand #98 of the final table, Farrell three-bet seven-six off-suit and Bilic called with seven-eight suited. The flop came and Farrell bet 400,000 into a 1.4 million pot. Bilic called and then called a 1.3 million bet on the turn, which paired his eight. The river was a blank and Farrell shoved all in on a total bluff. Bilic folded the best hand and was left short after that.
Two hands later it was all over as Bilic and Farrell clashed on a board of . Bilic had missed with his but bluffed all in for the size of the pot. Farrell called with bottom two pair and just like that the EPT Main Event final was over after exactly 100 hands! Farrell was the newest EPT champion and proud owner of €534,300, while Bilic had to settle for second, earning €440,000.
|1||Niall Farrell||United Kingdom||€534,300*|
|2||Alen Bilic||Bosnia and Herzegovina||€440,000*|
* denotes a heads-up deal