The European Poker Tour rounded off with a climactic showdown between two opponents who could not have been more different. On one side we had Haoxiang Wang from China, animated, effusive and always looking happy as he played, while his opponent, Piotr Nurzynski, played with a cool and emotionless style, every play meticulous until finally Nurzynski won and left the final table as the champion of the European Poker Tour (EPT) 2018! But who is Piotr Nurzynski?
The 28-year-old Nurzynski is a doctor, from Poland, who’s taking a two-year sabbatical away from his work in order to travel and see the world (which has apparently also meant winning over a million euros in one of the biggest European competitions). He qualified for the EPT by taking part in a satellite online poker tournament that earned him a place at the casino in Barcelona and would lead to his eventual place at the final table and the final four where an important deal would shape the outcome of this tournament.
Nurzynski was facing a lot of pressure in his first major tournament outing and the final table would have been extremely tense. Once the main table was down to the final four they all made a deal to split the pot in a way that ensured everyone would leave the table after the game with a big payday. This deal certainly took the pressure off and worked out well for everyone – it wasn’t long after that that Pedro Marques of Portugal and Ognyan Dimov of Bulgaria left the table with both landing a bigger prize than they would have done if they’d even come third. Which meant it was now down to Wang and Nurzynski, both in their first major tournament, with little high-pressure experience, to facedown for the final prize. But with the pressure relieved by the deal, the game was now purely down to how well the two could play.
After a long session of heads-up play, the game was resolved by just two hands – one where Nurzynski managed to get a maximum value out of his pocket jacks against Wang’s pocket nines and the other, a few hands later, Nurzynski was dealt A9, while Wang started with K2. The flop came 6 K A, giving both players a strong pair and a big start. Wang was first in after this, and Nurzynski called with the same calm composure he’d shown for hours. A 7 on the turn changed nothing. Wang checked, but Nurzynski quickly raised. Wang called again, and a 4 hit on the river. Wang checked to Nurzynski, who moved all in forcing the game into one final stand-off when Wang called.
Despite playing the hand perfectly, Wang’s pair of kings was beaten by the aces and saw Nurzynski walk away as the champion. Contrary to his understated and calm play, Nurzynski was very pleased with his win and he’s looking good for his next tournament with the platinum pass (along with Wang who also has one from the deal the four finalists originally made). Only time will tell what the future holds for Piotr Nurzynski.