Ship it to Smidge. You've probably hear a chip and a chair story many times in the past when a player down to their last chip miraculously avoids annihilation and overcomes insurmountable odds to win a tournament. The folks at the final stop on the 2023 European Poker Tour were treated to a future legendary tale where a beloved Irishman named Padraig 'Smidge' O'Neill overcome major obstacles to become the newest EPT champion.
It wasn't quite a chip and a chair situation, but who cares about minor details like then when a short-stacked player rallied back from a massive deficit to step into the winner's circle.
With every great comeback, there's a devastating defeat on the other side. In this instance, Norway's Jon Kyte was on the losing end of this Christmas miracle in Prague.
The annual holiday festival of poker in Prague continued this year. The EPT has been winding down the end of their calendar year with annual sojourn to the Czech Republic for a fun and festive end of the year celebration of poker in one of the oldest cities in Eastern Europe.
The 2023 EPT Prague has stiff competition with two other major events going down across the globe including the inaugural WSOP Paradise in the Bahamas and an epic WPT Championship at the Wynn Casino Las Vegas. Despite the two other popular branded events, the EPT Prague managed to set a new record with 1,285 entrants in the €5,300 buy-in Main Event. There were 349 re-entries and the prize pool swelled to over €6.23 million. The top 191 places paid out with the winner securing a smidge over €1 million. The final eight places secured at least a six-figure payday.
Only five players returned for the final day of action. Jon Kyte from Norway bagged the chip lead with over 22.8M and had the majority of the chips in play. Cheng Zhao was the closest competition with 8.1M, followed by Umberto Ruggeri (3.4M), Adam Wagner (2.7M), and short stacked Padraig O'Neill (1.2M).
O'Neill avoided an early elimination. In a battle of shortstacks, Adam Wagner made a final stand with against O'Neill's pocket tens. Wagner flopped a gutshot Wheel straight draw, which failed to materialize on the turn and river. O'Neill's pocket tens held up, and Wagner headed to the rail in fifth place which paid out €271,660.
With three to go Kyte held a big stack worth 26.1M, which was twice as much as the other two players combined with O'Neill at 8M and Umberto Ruggeri with 4.2M.
Three-handed lasted a significant amount of time, and Kyte relinquished the lead when Ruggeri put a dent into his stack with a couple of big hands. At that point, Kyte still led but his stack slipped to 15M with Ruggeri right behind him with 12.5M and O'Neill hanging tough with 11M.
O'Neil patiently waited for his chance to seize the lead and he amassed a stack that headed north of 30M.
Ruggeri and O'Neill rumbled in a battle of the blinds, and Ruggeri's lost to O'Neill's . Ruggeri flopped a pair of tens while O'Neill picked up a Broadway gutter draw. The turn was a blank but the King of clubs spiked on the river to give O'Neill a pair of Kings. Ruggeri busted in third place which paid out €459,240.
With two remaining, Norway and Ireland were heads-up for the victory. Kyte held just 7.3M compared to O'Neill's 31M.
On the final hand, Kyte made a stand with against O'Neill's . The board ran out . Neither player improved but O'Neill won the pot with a pair of nines and a King-kicker.
Kyte earned a runner-up payday worth €643,000. Not too shabby, eh?
O'Neill took home €1,030,000 for his comeback win at the EPT Prague.
Notable players who went deep and cashed in the EPT Prague included... Niall Farrel, Steve O'Dwyer, Teun Mulder, Max Neugebauer, Ramon Colilas, Omar Eljach, Maria Lampropulos, Vito Vella, Leo Margets, Niklas Astedt, Dario Sammartino, andStefan Huber.
2023 EPT Prague Main Event
Prize Pool: €6,232,250
Final Table Results:
1. Padraig O'Neill (Ireland) €1,030,000
2. Jon Kyte (Norway) €643,000
3. Umberto Ruggeri (Italy) €459,240
4. Cheng Zhao (China) €353,240
5. Adam Wagner (Czech Republic) €271,660
6. Grigorii Rodin (Russia) €209,000
7. Govert Metaal (Netherlands) €160,750
8. Marle Spragg (USA) €123,600