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Czechered flag for OJALA’S FINNISH

Prague: home of the stag, the rutting ground for some of Europe’s finest pre-marital specimens all intent on one last blow out before uttering those immortal words. The Czech capital is famed for its grandiose architecture and budget booze and last month it became the venue for the latest Unibet Open. Daniel Smyth reports

Players from as far afield as Canada had made the pilgrimage to the Czech party capital in a bid to take down the €157,000 first place prize. Among the poker luminaries bidding to be the next Unibet champion was Sorel Mizzi. The young Canadian has done well in Europe over the past year, having taken down two side events at the EPT’s Snowfest in Austria and bagging €100,000-plus cashes in Monte Carlo and France. However, despite his success “across the pond” the hugely talented player couldn’t find a way past those crazy Scandies and exited after just one hour of play.

Mizzi wasn’t the only big name amongst the 424 entrants; unsurprisingly the Czech Republic was well represented in the tournament with 76 players in the running for the title. Most famous of the local players was EPT Prague winner, Jan Skampa. Having taken down the main event at the tail end of last year for €682,000, the rising star was looking to make it two major home titles in a row. A large portion of Skampa’s chips came via a Day 2 confrontation with Daniel Gomez Anadon. After raising to 22,000, Skampa was wasted no time in setting Anadon all-in after the young player made a re-raise from the big blind. A quick call and a flourish of Ac-Kd by Anadon was met with an equally snappy unveiling of pocket aces by Skampa. Knowing he needed a miracle to stay alive, the hapless Anadon could only cast a look towards the heavens as the board ran out: 5s-2h-6h-Qd-5d.

As 415 fallen players lay buried underneath the final nine’s mountain of chips, the race for the grand prize was on. With Skampa in the driving seat many were predicting a local win but in the blink of an eye the entire final table was turned on its head. Despite three days of carefully manoeuvring their stacks and staving off the blinds, it took just two minutes to eliminate the first player. After a raise from Benjamin Jensen with Ac-Ks it was a quick all-in and exit for Jaroslav Vajgl with Ah-Qh. No sooner had Vajgl soaked up the crowd’s applause than another player was heading to the cashier’s desk. Laur Sibold found himself in dire need of some luck when he moved all-in with Qc-Jc against Jan Skampa. The flop was kind to Sibold, giving him a pair of queens, but as the dealer proceeded to the river, the final board of 2h-Qh-8c-8s-Ad was enough to give Skampa’s As-9h the best hand.

With players falling like dominoes it took less than two-and-a-half hours to reach the heads-up stage of the final. A three-way all-in between Skampa, Henri Ojala and Michal Maryska gave Ojala a 3:1 advantage going into the duel with Nino Ryschawy. Despite being massively out chipped, Ryschawy wasn’t prepared to roll over and die, doubling-up before finally falling to Ojala.

The final hand was a classic Hold’em race with Ojala praying his pocket sixes could stave off Ryschawy’s Ah-Jd. A precarious Qh-9d-7d flop opened up some backdoor possibilities for Ryschawy to win the hand but a safe 4d turn and 7c river sealed the deal and sent the chips Ojala’s way. The €157,000 was the biggest win of the Finn’s career and his win capped off another extremely successful Unibet Open.


1 €157.000 – Henri Ojala – FIN

2 €101.000 – Nino Ryschawy – GER

3 €67.600 – Jan Skampa – CZE

4 €48.800 – Michal Maryska – CZE

5 €37.700 – Benjamin Jensen – DEN

6 €25.800 – Perica Bukara – SRB

7 €19.000 – Joost Mengerink – NED

8 €13.500 – Laur Sibold – EST

9 €11.140 – Jaroslav Vajgl – CZE

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