• Germans Have Their Day at EPT London

    They Win the Main Event, the High Roller, the Heads-Up and the PLO

    European poker cognoscentis have had their eyes on Benny Spindler for some time, and now he has justified the attention. The German took down the European Poker Tour’s London main event and the very tidy £750,000 first prize, finally fulfilling the expectations of the poker know-it-alls by winning a major title.

    The 26-year-old player – who has lived in London for the past year – had it all going on, turning in a performance that coupled bare aggression with stunning reads that blew his opposition off the final table like a Saturn V.

    Even with hair often spilling over his face, Benny was able to get down and dirty in the trenches, winning the old-fashioned two-fisted way – he personally busted five players at the final table.

    Fittingly, runner-up Steve O’Dwyer, 29, of the U.S. – probably the most well-known player at the final – took the other scalps on his way to a £465,000 score.

    The German wunderkind burst onto the live scene with a million-dollar third-place finish at the 2009 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure in the Bahamas and, if it wasn’t for a couple of twists of fate, could have taken first then.

    He was even better in London. Spindler always seemed threatening and exuded a dangerous quality even when not in a hand. However, he admitted that he didn’t think his victory was anything near a certainty.

    “I was never sure of the win,” he said. “In fact, I got really lucky with that pair of tens against Martins Adeniya’s ace-king. I had been running really well the whole tournament and it was good to win that huge flip.” said Spindler.

    German observers said that Spindler always has ten minutes in every event where he wins two or three huge pots in quick succession, and that was true in this one. Spindler went from middle of the pack to a dominating chip lead in the space of just a few hands.

    First he made big calls with A-9s for second pair which turned to two-pair on a K-8-9-3-A board. His opponent, Bergstrom, had check-raised the flop and fired huge chunks of chips at him – 700,000 on the turn and another 700,000 on the river – with just five-high. It was a bold but seemingly unnecessary move that you sometimes see when players are in big spots in front of the TV cameras. In any case, the failed bluff spun Spindler up to 5,700,000 and into the lead.

    The next moment pretty much guaranteed that the German would make it to the heads-up at the very least: Spindler took out former chip leader Martins Adeniya (the UK’s only representative at the final) in a huge flip that saw the mop-haired terror take possession of almost half the chips in play with six players remaining.

    A blogger overheard Adeinya during a break say that he knew Spindler would four-bet him for stacks, and indeed he did. Bergstrom, now one of the shortest stacks, opened for 150,000 under-the-gun and was flat-called by Spindler on the button. Adeniya squeezed from the big blind for 475,000, Bergstrom passed and Spindler moved all-in. Adeniya, looking cool and calm, announced the call, turning over A-K to Spindler’s tens.

    “It’s a big one,” said Adeniya.

    That’s an understatement – a giant flip for a big chip lead at the final table of a £5,000 tounament – one of the most prestigious on the tour. Spindler had a preflop edge of 56.5% to Adeniya’s 43.5%, and it held up. The board came J-8-3-2-J, no one hit anything, and that meant Adeniya was sent to the payout desk to pocket £86,350 – less than he had expected as the chip leader going into the final.

    “Adeniya appears to be a precocious talent and this will not be the last time we follow his three- and four-betting antics on the tour,” said one blogger.

    The player from Darmstadt now had more than half the chips in play.

    Team PokerStars Pro Juan Manuel Pastor scored a solid fourth-place finish, picking up £200,000 in the process. Pastor largely let the action rage around him, understandable given his seat one to the right of Spindler. All-in and at risk for the first time, Pastor tabled pocket nines, Spindler pocket aces and that was that.

    That left three with Andre Klebanov scoring the bonus goal of winning his £5,250 buy-in back courtesy of a last longer bet from Skrill, official payment provider sponsor of the European Poker Tour. The German had his ace-queen rivered by O’Dwyer’s ace-five, the American saying all along that he had “a feeling” that he’d suck out.

    “I’ve got a feeling, a feeling deep inside…” Sing it!

    Was Klebanov whistling that tune on his way to the rail? No.

    That left two players with Spindler having about a 2-1 chip edge. Spindler’s was able to get it all-in preflop with his A-Ko, which dominated and held against O’Dwyer’s K-J prayer.

    The tall American had stood up to watch the board run out before ruing his decision – the decision to stand up, that is, not the decision to put the title on the line with kojack: “I should never have stood up,” he explained. “I have been telling people to sit down all week and now I have stood up in heads-up the first time I have got it in bad. I guess I deserve such a terrible flop!”

    The flop in question was 7-8-A. A jack on the turn was just a tease, and the river was a blank.

    The German’s victory came at the exact same moment as his friend Philipp Gruissem was winning the EPT London £20,000 High Roller event just two tables away. Gruissem beat fellow German Igor Kurganov to take the High Roller title and the £450,200 first prize. In fact, it was Germany’s day at EPT London as Khiem Nguyen from Wiesbaden won the £2,000 PLO just half an hour earlier and David Kolmberger took down the £1k Heads-Up event.

    This was Spindler’s second deep run in the EPT London Main Event – he finished 12th two years ago for £28,000. That result followed his biggest ever cash when he came third at the 2009 PCA for $1.1 million. Spindler’s other huge result was second place in last season’s EPT Grand Final High Roller for €316,000 (the event was won by Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier).

    Despite all these great results, Spindler is planning to ease up on live events for a while and concentrate on playing online pot-limit Omaha. He has moved from his native country and has been living in London for the last year.

    He said: “I wouldn’t say I crushed this final but I was running really well the whole tournament. I was also very lucky in the hand against Martins Adeniya. As for the money, I’m not planning to spend it; I’m going to save it for my future.”

    A total of 691 players competed in the EPT London Main Event, creating a £3,351,350 prize pool. The event was filmed for television.

    This season’s EPT London Poker Festival, which ran at the Hilton Metropole, featured 31 events spread over eight days.

    PokerStars blogs contributed to this report. Photos: Neil Stoddart

    The Payouts

    1 Benny Spindler, Germany, £750,000
    2 Steve O’Dwyer, USA, £465,000
    3 Andre Klebanov, Belarus, £265,000
    4 Juan Manuel Pastor, Spain, £200,000
    5 Mattias Bergstrom, Sweden, £155,000
    6 Kevin Iacofano , USA, £120,000
    7 Martins Adeniya, UK, £86,350
    8 Miroslav Benes, Czech Republic, £64,000

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