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My First Time in Europe, Pokercode Style - #ThrowbackThursday
Hill Kerby
Writer @Pokercode

Hill Kerby is involved with the Pokercode Blog since before Day 1, but he wears many hats as a writer. One of those hats, outside of Pokercode, is live reporting for PokerNews.

I'm based in Denver, Colorado, the United States of America. Meaning I cover a lot of events stateside. In September 2019, I was contacted with the opportunity to make my first trip to Europe to cover the European Poker Tour festival in Prague, Czech Republic some two months later. Prague is a destination city for just about every American, and I took advantage of that by flying out four days early with my soon-to-be wife to do some fun touristy things.

But to me, covering EPT Prague was still the main draw. I’ve been playing poker since before Black Friday, meaning at the time I had been shut out of any access to PokerStars, the site that got it all started in many respects, for over eight years. Now I was being asked to work for one of their sanctioned events, getting to represent PokerNews while covering some of the best players on the planet.

The festival was 11 days and I worked 10 of them. The second half of my days, I was fortunate enough to cover exciting high roller events: the €25,000 Single-Day High Roller and €10,300 EPT High Roller, which was the final event of the festival.

The beautiful city of Prague

Matthias Final Tables the €25K High Roller

Pokercode was founded in late 2019, meaning it was just born when EPT Prague 2019 took place. Pokercode co-founder and head coach Matthias Eibinger entered the tournament in Level 1, just a handful of minutes after the tournament started. We won’t get into too much detail on his first bullet falling short, just that he ran ace-four into ace-king on an ace-king-four flop.

Matthias wasted no time getting back in on the action, however, and was joined in the field by Pokercode head coach Simon Rønnow Pedersen, who was reported on as Simon Pedersen. Two short levels later, I was front and center for Simon’s first double of the day.

Unfortunately, Simon found himself dry on chips just before the dinner break after he was eliminated by Steve O’Dwyer for the chip lead. Simon had a straight, holding jack-ten of spades on a Q9833 board. Stacks went in on the river, where O’Dwyer’s jack-seven of hearts completed the flush. O’Dwyer wound up chopping the tournament heads-up with Sam Greenwood.

Matthias fared better, making a final-table run of his own on bullet number two. He eventually got his last 10 big blinds in with ace-five suited and was called by Danny Tang’s pocket sevens. An ace came on the flop, but it only proved to be a tease as it was quickly followed up by a seven on the turn. Matthias finished 7th for €77,650.

Matthias in the €25k High Roller at the EPT Prague 2019. (📸  by Danny Maxwell/PokerNews)

Simon and Matthias Both Final Table the €10K

After the fast-paced single-day high roller event, both Pokercode head coaches made their ways into the final event of the series: the €10,300 EPT High Roller. It was a three-day soirée.

When chips went into bags at the conclusion of Day 1, Simon was just outside the top 10 with a well-above-average stack of 194,500, nearly four times the 50,000 he started the day with. Matthias bagged 70,000, taking a 35-big-blind stack into Day 2 where blinds resumed at 1,000/2,000 with a 2,000 big-blind ante.

By the end of Day 2, play was in the money and just 18 remained. Simon and Matthias were both among those 18. This time, Matthias finished the day with more chips (605,000) than Simon (505,000), though both were in the middle of the pack.

Truth be told, one of the most memorable moments of my festival was watching Simon and Matthias hand out Pokercode poker chips to other players at their tables throughout these days. I remember thinking, “I want one of those!” Who knew that a year later I’d be writing for Pokercode, and that I’d be a part of the family?!

Matthias and Simon at the €10k High Roller final table

Anyways, Simon and Matthias both made the final table, with Matthias being second in chips while Simon was fifth of nine, still in the middle of the pack. Simon doubled almost immediately, and shortly thereafter Matthias took the chip lead, just moments after he knocked out seventh-place finisher Masato Yokosawa.

By the time the final four were reached, the two Pokercode brethren had gone to battle several times. Among them was Simon getting the better of Matthias, which was followed up by Matthias getting some back from Simon.

Eventually, Simon wound up eliminating Matthias in fourth place when the two found themselves flipping for stacks. Matthias was behind with king-queen and flopped a queen against Simon’s pocket sevens. However, that queen was bookended by the other two sevens in the deck. Matthias was unable to find the perfect-perfect runout to go quads-over-quads and earned €201,340 for his fourth-place finish.

Simon lasted just another 20 minutes before falling in third after his jacks failed to hold versus ace-eight, taking home €248,340 of his own.

Luckily for me, heads-up play lasted literally one hand despite there being 130 big blinds in play at the time, and less than 12 hours later I was on a plane back to America, taking home with me the experience of a lifetime.

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