2021 WSOP Europe: First 7 of 15 bracelets awarded; Singapore’s Feng Zhao just misses the gold

The curtain may have closed on the 2021 World Series of Poker in Las Vegas but action continues in Rozvadov, Czech Republic where the Europe leg has been underway since November 19. Despite the threat of a new Covid-19 variant, the series has gotten off to a smashing start with numbers higher than in 2019. Seven bracelet events have already been claimed and all event guarantees were well surpassed. Locking up gold straps were Antonello Ferraiuolo, Bjorn Verbakel, Emil Bise, Samuel Stranak, Edmond Jahjaga, Antoine Vranken, and Maximilan Klostermeier. Only eight bracelets remain. The €5,000,000 guaranteed Main Event takes place from December 3 to 8. 

Photo Credit – WSOP

Unlike the USA festival, far less Asian players made the trek to King’s Resort. Among the few was Singaporean pro Feng Zhao who exerted his presence with cashes in five events which included a runner up finish at the €550 Pot Limit Omaha 8-Handed. Also in attendance were Taiwanese bracelet winner Pete Chen and 2021 Asian Poker Tour Korea Main Event champion, In Ho Song, both reaching the money at one event. 

With the series down to its final 9 days, players still making their way need to keep in mind that health protocols remain in place however they are much looser than in the States. Posted on the Casino’s Twitter page, 

“We ensure and check that every single guest is either vaccinated (EU-approved vaccine), tested negative with Antigen test 24 hours old or PCR test 72 hours old max, or recovered from Covid-19 (with a recovery certificate and recovered within the past 180 days). There is no entry for anyone without fulfilling one of the three options.” 

The 2021 WSOPE runs through December 8. Here are the first half results and highlights. 

Biggest pot: Switzerland’s Emil Bise wins the Mini Main Event

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Emil Bise, Photo Credit – King’s Resort

Only two seven figure pots have been generated so far, the largest was at Bracelet #3: € 1,350 No Limit Hold’em Mini Main Event where a handsome € 1,592,580 prize pool was generated. This was over 2.5 times the € 600K guarantee, and when compared to the past, the event drew 1,397 entries as opposed to 766 in 2019. Out of the 211 players paid, Switzerland’s Emil Bise came out the richest, turning his € 1,350 buy-in into a career high score of € 260,525 (~US$ 293,450). Bise earned his first gold bracelet, one he can proudly display alongside his two WSOP circuit rings. He was also the third player to ever win the coveted gold for his home country. Notable players at the final table were bracelet winner Jack Sinclair who placed 5th and Romanian ring holder Marius Alexandru Gicovanu who not only finished in 2nd place but was also on his second final table. 

Buy in: € 1,350
Guarantee: € 600,000
Entries: 1,397
Prize pool: € 1,592,580
ITM: 211 places

Final table payouts

1st Emil Bise – Switzerland – € 260,525
2nd Marius Alexandru Gicovanu – Romania – € 164,961
3rd Rolf Van Brug – Netherlands – € 122,735
4th Alessandro Pichierri – Italy – € 92,996
5th Jack Sinclair – England – € 71,845
6th Ciro Perna – Italy – € 56,654
7th Vivian Saliba – Brazil – € 35,228
8th Pablo Finini – Switzerland – € 27,223
9th Kamalinovin Omid – Germany – € 21,261

*Note: Top 6 players were also awarded a WSOPE Main Event ticket

Biggest field: Kosovo’s Edmond Jahjaga wins the NLH Colossus Event

Edmond Jahjaga, Photo Credit – King’s Resort

Drawing the biggest crowd of the first half was Bracelet #5: €550 No Limit Hold’em Colossus with 2,478 entries across six starting days. This surpassed the € 1 Million on offer for a heftier € 1,177,050 prize pool. Among the players in the field was Taiwanese bracelet holder Pete Chen who was one of the few Asians that made the trek from Las Vegas. Chen min-cashed. In the end, the title went to Kosovo recreational player Edmond Jahjaga for his first career bracelet and a sizable payout of € 158,125 (~US$ 177,390). After his victory, Jahjaga expressed his disbelief to media, 

“It means a lot to me. I don’t know how to describe it because it comes so unexpected. The whole experience feels like a movie and it just happened.  “I also got lucky on Day 2 but that’s part of the game. You have to get lucky at times to win tournaments and fortune was on my side.”

Buy in: € 550
Guarantee: € 1,000,000
Entries: 2,478
Prize pool: € 1,177,050
ITM: 308 places

Final table payouts

1st Edmond Jahjaga – Kosovo – € 158,125
2nd Riadh Farhat – France – € 101,668
3rd Matteo Calzoni – Italy – € 77,946
4th Andrea Ricci – Italy – € 60,856
5th Krahula Roman – Czech Republic – € 48,445
6th Zlatin Penev – Bulgaria – € 40,337
7th Aurelio Reggi – Italy – € 32,652
8th Ntamaris Konstantinos – Greece – € 27,664
9th Gabriele Re – Italy – € 24,823
10th Merijn Van Rooij – Netherlands – € 21,097

*In addition to sizable cash returns, the top ten players each received a WSOPE Main Event ticket.

Asia: Singapore’s Feng Zhao takes runner up and four cashes

Bjorn Verbakel (L) and Zhao Feng (R), Photo Credit – WSOP

Singaporean pro Feng Zhao came very close to snatching up a gold bracelet at Bracelet #2: €550 Pot Limit Omaha 8-Handed but couldn’t get past Dutch player Bjorn Verbakel at heads up to fall in 2nd place. This was Zhao’s closest ever bracelet reach which earned him € 36,617. He also min-cashed at four other events and crossed over US$ 500K in live tournament earnings. Based on his tracked scores, Zhao arrived in Rozvadov well before the series began and padded up his bankroll with a sweet victory at the Euro Rounders Poker Million € 1,100 High Roller event for € 43,211 (~US$ 50,000). With this strong start, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him continue to rake in the dough and possibly even stay longer for the upcoming EPT Prague

Brief rundown of the event, 623 jumped in for a prize pool of € 295,925. Despite it being the smallest pot of the ongoing series, it too surpassed its guarantee. 91 players cashed, among them was Korean player In Ho Song in 77th place At the final table, eventual champion Verbakel outlasted a few fellow decorated players: two time bracelet winner/ Czech pro Martin Kabrhel, and ring winners Tobias Peters and Richard Toth. For his victory, Verbakel pocketed 60,253 (~US$ 68,200) and clasped a first career bracelet which he proudly wear with his WSOP circuit ring. After this win, Verbakel reached the final table of Bracelet #7: €5,000 Pot Limit Omaha. He climbed over US$ 400K in tracked live tournament earnings. 

Buy in: € 550
Guarantee: € 200,000
Entries: 623
Prize pool: € 295,925
ITM: 91 places

Final table payouts

1st Bjorn Verbakel – Netherlands – € 60,253
2nd Feng Zhao – Singapore – € 36,617
3rd Ken Beckers – Belgium – € 25,530
4th Richard Toth – Hungary – € 18,111
5th Alfredo Vega Meister – Spain – € 13,078
6th Tobias Peters – Netherlands – € 9,615
7th Mikkel Plum – Denmark – € 7,200
8th Martin Kabrhel – Czech Republic – € 5,494

Largest buy in: Maximilian Klostermeier wins the PLO High Roller for € 204,010

Maximilian Klostermeier, Photo Credit – King’s Resort

Out of the seven completed events, burning the biggest hole in the pocket was the last PLO event of the series, Bracelet #7: Pot Limit Omaha with its € 5,000 buy in. 184 came out to generate a very healthy prize pool of € 830,300, which more than crushed the € 150K guarantee. On the second day of play, Denmark’s Maximilian Klostermeier bulldozed through the final table to capture his second career bracelet and a career high score of € 204,010 (~US$ 231,786). Klostermeier is a PLO beast having also earned his first gold in 2019 under this variant. With this latest win, his total live earnings bumped up to over US$ 425K and he brought Denmark its 10th country bracelet. Notable players running well in this event were Ermanno Di Nicola, Vasil Medarov, and series champion Bjorn Verbakel, all three reaching their second final table. Also going deep were bracelet holder Armando D’Avanzo who finished in 4th place and Veselin Karakitukov who had two final tables in Las Vegas

Buy in: € 5,000
Guarantee: € 150,000
Entries: 184
Prize pool: € 830,300
ITM: 28 places

Final table payouts

1st Maximilian Klostermeier – Denmark – € 204,010
2nd Joni Jouhkimainen – Finland – € 126,091
3rd Ermanno Di Nicola – Italy – € 88,520
4th Armando D’Avanzo – Italy – € 63,613
5th Nikola Minkov – Bulgaria – € 46,821
6th Jaroslav Peter – Czech Republic – € 35,317
7th Vasil Medarov – Bulgaria – € 27,317
8th Veselin Karakitukov – Bulgaria – € 21,681
9th Bjorn Verbakel – Netherlands – € 17,669

Opening Event: Antonello Ferraiuolo bags first gold at the opener

Antonello Ferraiuolo, Photo Credit – King’s Resort

Italy’s Antonello Ferraiuolo kicked off the series in style as he topped the 1,789 entry field of Bracelet #1: €350 NLH Opener to bank a career high payout of €87,920 (~US$ 99,500) and the first gold bracelet of the series. Prior to this win, Ferraiuolo only had six small live event cashes and none of them were at the WSOP. Since the win, he added two more cashes and will be gunning for the big one having also been awarded a WSOPE Main Event ticket. Among the players that reached the money were China’s Beiyan Yu (56th), Feng Zhao (160th), Japan’s Yoshimasa Nakamura (219th), and Korea’s De Kim (230th). 

Buy in: € 350
Guarantee: € 300,000
Entries: 1,789
Prize pool: € 535,358
ITM: 269 places

Final table payouts

1st Antonello Ferraiuolo – Italy – € 87,920
2nd Levent Efe – Germany – € 58,289
3rd Ion Tabacaru – Romania – € 45,579
4th Narcis Gabriel Nedelcu – Romania – € 26,157
5th Logi Laxdal – Iceland – € 19,623
6th Roberto Bizaj – Italy – € 14,876
7th Gal Aviv – Israel – € 11,397
8th Marius Alexandru Gicovanu – Romania – € 8,826
9th Andy Schlegel – Germany – € 6,909

*Top 3 places were also awarded a WSOPE Main Event ticket

Bracelet #4: €2,000 Pot Limit Omaha – Samuel Stranak – € 101,764 (~US$ 114,165)

Samuel Stranak, Photo Credit – King’s Resort

Samuel Stranak became the first player to ever lift up the gold for Slovakia. Stranak outlasted the 241 entry field of Bracelet #4: €2,000 Pot Limit Omaha to earn a career high € 101,764 (~US$ 114,165) and the coveted gold bracelet. On his road to victory, Stranak dominated the final table, knocking out every player including fellow countryman Alan Sabo in a heated tug of war that saw the chip lead switch sides multiple times. For Sabo, despite the loss, it was also a career high payout of € 62,894. 

Buy in: € 2,000
Guarantee: € 200,000
Entries: 241
Prize pool: € 423,557
ITM: 37 place

Final table payouts

1st Samuel Stranak – Slovakia – € 101,764
2nd Alan Sabo – Slovakia – € 62,894
3rd Ian Bradley – England – € 44,044
4th Vasil Medarov – Bulgaria – € 31,484
5th Amir Mozaffarian – Germany – € 22,982
6th Krasimir Yankov – Bulgaria – € 17,140
7th Stanislav Parkhomenko – Bulgaria – € 13,065
8th Ermanno Di Nicola – Italy – € 10,185

Bracelet #6: €1,650 Mixed NLHE/ PLO – Antoine Vranken – € 113,000 (~US$ 126,730)

Antoine Vranken, Photo Credit – King’s Resort

Dream victory for Dutch player Antoine Vranken at Bracelet #6: €1,650 Mixed NLHE/ PLO for his maiden bracelet and a career high score of € 113,000 (~US$ 126,730). As an avid tournament player, Vranken has had numerous triumphs at various events, mostly in his home country however the latest was his first six figure takedown. This boosted his live earnings to over US$ 570K. 

Buy in: € 1,650
Guarantee: € 200,000
Entries: 330
Prize pool: € 483,075
ITM: 51 places

Final table payouts

1st Antoine Vranken – Netherlands – € 113,000
2nd Moncef Karoui – Tunisia – € 69,831
3rd Carter Newhof – USA – € 47,286
4th Claudio Di Giacomo – Italy – € 32,787
5th Stanislav Koleno – Slovakia – € 23,296
6th Mikkel Plum – Denmark – € 16,971
7th Manuel Fritz – Austria – € 12,685
8th Fahredin Mustafov – Bulgaria – € 9,734
9th Julien Sitbon – France – € 7,675
10th Danny Covyn – Belgium – € 6,221

More to come on the 2021 WSOPE so stick with us at Somuchpoker for the next update. 

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Tricia David

Tricia David has long experience as a recreational poker player and has been covering poker events since 2010 for numerous outfits in Asia. She spent one year working part time with Poker Portal Asia then became editor and lead writer for all event coverage of the Philippine Poker Tour (PPT). Under the PPT, she overlooked content for their website, and produced live updates on all their events. In addition, she served as the live and online events website content writer for the Asian Poker Tour. Currently, she does live events reporting in Asia for online news site Somuchpoker and is also one of their news contributors.

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