Julian Thomas wins WPT Prague, frustrates Firsau

WPtlogoJulian Thomas has just won the WPT Prague main event, besting a field of 306 players and taking home €206,230 ($283,827). In doing so, he handed Vasili Firsau his second defeat in heads-up play in this WPT season.

Another win for an underdog

Julian Thomas would not have been your first pick to win this event, having only two previous live cashes in his career, though the young German did catch a lucky break in the seating draw, landing to the immediate right of the Lithuanian Gintaras Simaitis. Simaitis’ image was extremely tight, making him a perfect target for blind steals.

Meanwhile, Firsau was the massive favorite to begin the day, coming in with both the largest stack (104 BB) and the most impressive reputation, with two previous WPT cashes and one final table under his belt. Rounding out the final table lineup were Ognjen Sekularac, Valeri Savov and Andrey Shatilov.

A dramatic 3-way all-in

The decisive moment of the final table was also probably the most exciting of the WPT season so far from a spectator’s point of view, as the final three players collided in a massive – and essentially unavoidable – 3-way all-in.

Thomas raised from the button and Shatilov, with the short stack, attempted an all-in resteal from the small blind. Firsau looked down to find himself holding a pair of Jacks, and made the only sensible move by coming over the top for all his chips. Unfortunately, Thomas turned out to have the nuts – pocket Aces. Shatilov turned over the Queen and Ten of Hearts, and the board bricked out to eliminate Shatilov and give Thomas nearly all the chips in play.

Heads-up play was anticlimactic, lasting only two hands, both of them all in. Firsau did manage to find one double up, drawing out with his Q4 offsuit against Thomas’s A8 of Clubs, but it was all for naught as he couldn’t get lucky a second time, busting out with QT of Hearts to Thomas’s AK.

Always a bridesmaid

Although it’s hard to imagine anyone feeling too bad with a €135,000 score, the 2nd place finish has to be extremely bittersweet for Firsau, as it’s now the second time in the span of a few months that he’s been robbed of a WPT bracelet by the whim of the deck.

At the WPT Grand Prix de Paris back in October, Firsau had been one card away from the title, robbed at the last minute by Mohsin Charania, who rivered a 4-outer to stay alive, steal Firsau’s momentum and eventually beat him.

Alex Weldon is a game designer by day and poker tournament wizard by night. You can read more from Alex at www.benefactum.ca and follow him on Twitter at @benefactumgames

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