To anyone still insistent that’s there’s no emotion in poker anymore: back in your hutch. Fabrice Soulier has just won the €10,000 EPT Vienna High Roller event and said, “I think I might cry.”


Fabrice Soulier: EPT High Roller champion

The doughy-eyed Frenchman, who has been a regular face on the EPT since Season 1, has already amassed more than $5m in worldwide tournament earnings, and the €392,900 he gets for winning here is not even in his top three cashes. But until today, he had never claimed a major piece of silverware on the tour that he considers home, and he could barely keep the tears from his cheeks as he received his trophy in the Festsaal, at the Hofburg Palace, this afternoon.

“It really means a lot,” Soulier said. “I am getting so emotional. When I arrived in Vienna, I thought something was great here…Now I am one of the lucky ones with a title.”

Soulier’s near €400,000 score is the biggest he has won on the EPT, and he also gets an exclusive SLYDE watch from the tournament sponsors. He’ll return to London, where his partner is expecting their first child next month, a very happy man.

The rule of thumb this season on the European Poker Tour has been that when the the Main Event zigs, the High Roller zags. Marathon days in the €5,000 party mean sprints among the bigger spenders, and vice versa. And yes, it was the same again in Vienna this week.

Two long sessions on Thursday and Friday, while the Main Event was scattering players to the rail at a startling rate of knots, meant the High Roller assembled a nine-handed unofficial final table today.

But with Jonathan Duhamel, Benny Spindler, Dmitry Yurasov and Anatoly Filatov sitting around it, the scene was set for breakneck–and break-limb–action. Duhamel, for instance, lasted only one hand.


Benny Spindler: the fringe hides a fearsome player

The best way to get a handle on what went down in the tournament this afternoon is to scroll through the updates in the panel at the top of the High Roller page. But the short version is short stacks perished, the hyper-aggressive cannibalised themselves and Soulier continued to chip up and chip up.

Soulier had learned to be patient on day two of this tournament, when he sat with between seven and 12 blinds for, by his own estimation, six or seven hours. But he ground it out into the money yesterday, then was right in the middle of the pack coming into today. The entire final table only lasted about six hours, during which his stack barely took a knock.

The critical pot came four handed, when Soulier took K♥9♥ to a flop of 8♣9♦K♦. Vitaly Lunkin had K♣Q♦ and couldn’t get away. Filatov mopped up the last of Lunkin’s chips, then sent Oleh Okhotskyi packing, leaving a France v Russia battle for the title.


Vitaly Lunkin: plenty of bracelets, but no EPT title

Both Filatov and Soulier also cashed in the Main Event (Soulier finished 57th; Filatov 28th) and were in good form. But the heads-up soon became one-way traffic. Soulier’s final hand was A♠5♠ to Filatov’s K♠10♥. The board was blank and day was done.


Anatoly Filatov: out-muscled at the end

“To win, I just can’t believe it,” Soulier said, who had to outlast a record-setting High Roller field of 181 entries to prevail.

Better start believing.

EPT10 Vienna High Roller
Date: 27-29 March 2014
Buy-in: €10,300
Game: NLHE High Roller
Players: 181 entries
Prize pool: €1,773,800

1 – Fabrice Soulier, France, €392,900
2 – Anatoly Filatov, Russia, €265,200
3 – Oleh Okhotskyi, Ukraine, €182,500
4 – Vitaly Lunkin, Russia, €148,800
5 – Dmitry Yurasov, Russia, €118,650
6 – Rasmus Agerskov, Denmark, €91,150
7 – Benny Spindler, Germany, €66,350
8 – Fady Kamar, Lebanon, €48,050
9 – Jonathan Duhamel, Canada, Team PokerStars Pro, €39,800


He da man: Davidi Kitai celebrates with Soulier

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