Gilles Simon Takes Home Inaugural EPT Cyprus Main Event Gilles Simon Takes Home Inaugural EPT Cyprus Main Event

Over the last couple of weeks, PokerStars brought its most popular live poker tour to the exotic Mediterranean island of Cyprus for the first time ever, and, as is usually the case with PokerStars events, the festival turned out to be a huge success.

Hundreds of players from over 70 different countries came together to play in the inaugural EPT Cyprus Main Event and dozens of side events that took place on the outskirts, with buy-ins ranging from just $550 to $50,000.

Dutch online poker player and streamer Gilles Simon took home the Main Event trophy and over a million dollars in cash, marking the biggest moment of his emerging poker career, as he fought his way to his first major live poker victory against a field of 1320 entries.

EPT regular Juan Pardo won the biggest event of the festival, the $50,000 Super High Roller, while the title of the EPT High Roller champion went to Ilia Pavlov from Russia, as he defeated a field of 407 to take down the $10k event for nearly $800k.

The festival also saw a variety of other key events play out, including the $1100 Eureka Main Event, which India’s Ankit Ahuja won, and six separate $25k High Rollers that welcomed some of the biggest names in the poker world.

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Gilles Simon Captures His First Poker Trophy

Just a few short years ago, the now 24-year-old Gilles Simon, originally from Valkenburg, was playing low-stakes poker tournaments at PokerStars and trying to get a start as a poker streamer on Twitch.

Once again, a PokerStars qualifier proved that poker is still a game that can make dreams come true, as Simon dedicated himself to studying and grinding over the past year, eventually making his way out to Cyprus for the $5300 Main Event.

Simon ran hot through the majority of the six days of action that led to the final table and was able to start the final day of play as the chip leader, a wave he would ride out to the eventual victory.

On his way there, he faced players from seven different nations, as the final table of eight was as international as they get.

In the end, it was Simon against Italian Andrea Dato, a player with a lot more live poker experience, who went into the heads-up skirmish. Despite entering the match with a chip lead, Dato quickly managed to double Simon up and would soon lose what ended up being a fairly short head-to-head battle.

The 24-year-old won $1,042,000 for his troubles, by far the biggest payday of his life, while Dato would also set his career record, winning $652,200 for his second-place finish.

Here is a complete look at the results of the EPT Cyprus Main Event final table:

Place Player Country Prize
1st Gilles Simon Netherlands $1,042,000
2nd Andrea Dato Italy $652,200
3rd Jose Gonzalez Sanchez Spain $465,425
4th Halil Tasyurek Turkey $358,075
5th Yannick Schumacher Germany $275,425
6th Nikita Kuznetsov Russia $211,850
7th Bjorn Kozenkai Hungary $162,925
8th Victor Yugay Uzbekistan $125,350

Impressive Turnout in Side Events

As is typical for EPT festivals, PokerStars organized a number of events on the sides, starting with the $1100 Eureka Main Event, a more affordable tournament in which players can still enjoy the semblance of playing in an EPT Main Event.

The event was a massive success, bringing out 1146 unique players for a total of 2659 entries, which created an incredible prize pool of over $2.5 million.

While players from Eastern European countries dominated the final table of the Eureka Main Event, the trophy would eventually end up in the hands of Ankit Ahuja, an experienced Indian grinder with more than $2 million in tournament winnings.

The official $10k EPT High Roller was another event that brought together quite a playing field, with 407 players ponying up the $10k buy-in. In the end, Russian Ilia Pavlov defeated Turkey’s Selahaddin Bedir heads up for the title and the biggest score of his poker career.

Six $25k High Rollers were also thrown to ensure that the high stakes players would not run out of action during their stay in Cyprus, and many well-known names made the trip to take part in these.

The likes of Sam Greenwood, Adrian Mateos, and Mikita Badziakouski all made final table appearances, but the so-called “super pros” failed to capture any silverware.

Still, high rollers like Aleksej Ponakovs from Latvia and Albert Daher from Lebanon would add to their resumes, while Spain’s Juan Pardo was named champion in the most expensive event of the festival, the $50k Super High Roller, following a heads-up deal with his compatriot Vicente Delgado.

Poker Power Women’s Bootcamp Comes to a Close

PokerStars made sure that EPT Cyprus would be well-remembered by a group of female players who emerged victorious from the PokerStars x Poker Power Women’s Bootcamp, an eight-week poker training program that brought together 40 women from all over the world and taught them poker skills from scratch.

The ladies involved in the Bootcamp were trained for eight weeks by PokerStars Pro Jennifer Shahade, who taught them skills they could use in poker but also in other areas of their lives across a series of lessons.

A tournament organized on the online platform determined which ten contestants would make their way to the PokerStars x Poker Power Women’s Bootcamp Showdown, the ultimate test of skill and resilience.

Eventually, it was 55-year-old Louise Ulrick from Great Britain who took down the Showdown and won herself a fully paid trip to EPT Prague in December, where she will get to play in the prestigious EPT Prague Main Event.

With that, the Bootcamp came to a close, as another great effort was made by Poker Power and PokerStars to integrate women into the world of poker and increase the overall number of female players in the game.

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All Set for PokerStars EPT Prague

Now that the inaugural EPT Cyprus is in the books, all eyes turn towards the Czech Republic capital as PokerStars LIVE's EPT Prague is right around the corner.

The first preliminary events of the EPT Prague festival start on December 6, which means just over a month remains for players looking to make their way to what could be the biggest EPT event of the year.

PokerStars has been running EPT Prague satellites for quite some time now, so make sure to sign up with the operator, download the app, and check out the full list of available EPT Prague qualifiers that could help you secure your place among the elite come December.