PokerStars Dare to Stream Winner Gilles Simon Becomes Inaugural EPT Cyprus Main Event Champion ($1,042,000)

PokerStars Dare to Stream Winner Gilles Simon Becomes Inaugural EPT Cyprus Main Event Champion ($1,042,000)

After a week of action under the opulent lights of the Merit Royal Diamond Hotel Casino and Spa, the $5,300 Main Event of the PokerStars European Poker Tour Cyprus has wrapped up proceedings, with Gilles Simon walking away as the victor.

Simon defeated Andrea Dato in a brief heads-up affair that saw him overcome more than a two-to-one chip deficit.

It's a meteoric rise to the top for the 24-year-old, who was playing online tournaments with an average buy-in of $10 just a few years ago. It's another example of how the poker dream still remains possible, as Simon banked $1,042,000 for the win.

The boisterous Dutch rail spurred Simon on as they saw their compatriot go from the inaugural winner of PokerStars' Dare to Stream to the maiden champion of EPT Cyprus.

Dato, an Italian grinder, collected the $652,200 runner-up prize.

EPT Cyprus Main Event Final Table Results

1Gilles SimonNetherlands$1,042,000
2Andrea DatoItaly$652,200
3Jose Gonzalez SanchezSpain$465,425
4Halil TasyurekTurkey$358,075
5Yannick SchumacherGermany$275,425
6Nikita KuznetsovRussia$211,850
7Bjorn KozenkaiHungary$162,925
8Victor YugayUzbekistan$125,350
9Priit ParmastoEstonia$96,425

From Twitch Streamer to EPT Champion

The youngest player at the final table entered Day 6 with the chip lead and was able to stay near the top of the counts for most of the day.

"It was very close and I think it was just very much for everyone involved," Simon said in a winner's interview. "The battle of who can just hold on, who can keep playing steady and not make too many big mistakes because the pressure is on, has been on for multiple days already. And it just gets bigger and bigger and bigger, and everyone just has that feeling of 'I want it to be over with. I want to be done with it. But you also want to keep playing long game. So yeah, What did it take? I don't know. Good cards. And I like to think also mostly good decisions as a couple of spots where I was like, I don't know if I played that optimally, but yeah, I like to think that I made some good decisions in the end to maneuver my way to heads up and eventually to win."

One of the most memorable hands of the tournament came at the end of Day 4 when the Dutchman six-bet jammed with ace-queen to fold out the ace-ten of Timur Vardarian.

"I think at that point you can't really call it value anymore," he said when asked about the hand. "It's more of a thing of like his range of hands that he can have right, is basically aces and very sometimes kings. But I think he can also just have a lot of bluffs in that scenario ... So in my mind, it just means that he has a lot more bluffs than value."

After the victory, Simon reflected on his decision to retire from Twitch streaming to focus on professional poker full-time.

"I want to really focus on just getting good at my craft," he said. "So I was doing multiple things and I felt like even though I may be a unique personality a little bit, there wasn't that much that would distinguish me from any other player or any other streamer at that point ... So yeah, I just had a couple of events happen in my private life that made me rethink, kind of like, okay, where do I want to go now? Because I just had a really, really high, high, high with winning Platinum Pass and just being like, okay, I can do this. I can play poker for a living."

Final Day Recap

Halil Tasyurek and Nikita Kuznetsov took in the opening pots of the day, and then, on the third hand of play, Bjorn Kozenkai was the first player to leave the final table. The Spin and Go Specialist was the short stack heading into the session and saw his chips head over to Jose Gonzalez Sanchez after he could not overcome his preflop domination. While Koznekai was dismayed after his elimination, his $162,925 dwarfed his former biggest live cash of $10,266.

Shortly after, Kuznetsov doubled up through Simon after the Russian's tens held out against Big Slick. Simon then recovered almost instantly after winning his own preflop race through Sanchez. Dato found his own double through Sanchez, but the latter recouped any losses and took the chip lead after bluffing Tasyurek off top pair.

After the players returned from the first break, Simon found a big double to put Kuznetsov as one of the short stacks. Simon then finished Kuznetsov off a few hands after his pocket kings remained best against the Russian's sailboats. This sent Simon to the top of the counts, and his lead increased after Dato doubled through Sanchez a second time.

Upon the start of Level 34, Tasyurek and Dato scored early doubles to put Yannick Schumacher near the bottom of the leaderboard. The German could not replicate the feats of his tablemates and was the next to crash out as his ace-queen was drawing dead on the turn versus Tasyurek's jacks. Schumacher was awarded $275,425, almost double his total live earnings prior to his deep run in Cyprus. There would be no more eliminations for the remainder of the Level, with Dato surviving all-in situations a few more times.

With the blinds at 200,000/400,000, less than 100 big blinds were in play, so every chip mattered. Tasyurek thought he would be the recipient of a huge pot after flopping two pair. However, Sanchez turned a straight to take the pot. Tasyurek's tumble down the counts began, and he was ousted in fourth place.

Dato started three-handed play as the chip leader, marking a complete turnaround after spending most of the session propping up the rest of the players. He then furthered the gap between himself and Simon after downing Sanchez to set up heads-up with the Dutchman.

Dato began the final duel with more than a two-to-one chip lead, but Simon narrowed the gap after the first hand. Simon flopped bottom two pair and got two streets of value to draw the counts close to even. Simon then took the chip lead after Dato called his pot-sized bet with an inferior pair of kings.

The duo were given some time to get away from the table in the form of a 45-minute dinner break. Simon had 30.5 million, while Dato had been reduced to 9 million in the first part of the two-person battle.

When play resumed, Simon only took a few hands to seal the victory. His king-eight flopped a pair against Dato's ace-jack and he held out on the turn and river to pick up his first live major title.

This concludes PokerNews EPT Cyprus Main Event coverage. Congratulations to Gilles Simon!


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