PokerStars was forced to postpone the Russian leg of the European Poker Tour (EPT) in March due to COVID-19. EPT Sochi was among several major live poker tournaments worldwide that had to be cancelled or postponed due to the global health crisis.
Seven months later, the live poker scene is still struggling to get back on track in some parts of the globe, but things are different in the Russian coastal resort of Sochi where the first EPT event of the year was held.
PokerStars was able to pull it off successfully, with the festival attracting a decent turnout.
The EPT Sochi National Event ran from October 2-6 and drew a total of 508 entrants (including 206 re-entries), generating $442,074 in total prize pool. The Main Event which took place right after the National Event, pulled in 637 entries and ended up awarding almost €1.1 million in prize money to the top finishers.
While these numbers are expectedly lower than the figures recorded in 2019, the turnout is still strong, indicating the players’ eagerness to go back to the live felts, even when the threat of COVID-19 still remains. The recent success of EPT Sochi is a clear sign that the live poker scene in Europe could return to its normal busy state real soon.
Anatolii Zyrin Wins EPT National
The first part of the festival focused on the EPT National which was taken down by Anatolii Zyrin for €73,000. Zyrin is among Russia’s accomplished pros, with over $1.6 million in career earnings.
He won the $1,500 Omaha Mix event during the 2019 World Series of Poker (WSOP).
Ruslan Bogdanov Captures Main Event
After six days of action, the Main Event title went to Ruslan Bogdanov who walked away with €175,743 in winnings, the largest and only live cashout recorded by the Russian player, based on his Hendon Mob profile. Prior to winning the event, Bogdanov agreed to a heads-up deal with Viktor Tkachenko, leaving just the title to play for.
The final hand saw Bogdanov calling Tkachenko’s all-in with pocket sixes against J-9. Bogdanov’s cards held and he became the fifth player from his home country of Russia to become an EPT Main Event champion.
After EPT Sochi, all eyes will be on EPT Prague which is slated for December. But players need to lower their expectations though, because there’s a high chance the event may not push through, with Czech Republic recently enforcing a new state of emergency due to a second wave of coronavirus cases.