David Kaufmann Shines in the City of Light Ahead of EPT Paris Main Event Finale

David Kaufmann Shines in the City of Light Ahead of EPT Paris Main Event Finale

David Kaufmann already knows what its like to capture a prestigious PokerStars title.

In 2013, Kaufmann won the WCOOP Main Event to earn nearly $1.5 million. He then finished in 41st place at EPT Barcelona that year. But then came a long hiatus when Kaufmann didnt cash in any poker tournament for more than eight years as he focused on earning a degree in economics.

When Kaufmann finally returned to the live felt within the last few months, it was like he never left. He cashed in the EPT Cyprus Main Event. He finished 44th in the FPS Main Event this week at Le Palais des Congres. And, at the final table of the record-breaking 2024 PokerStars European Poker Tour Paris Main Event, Kaufmann is the man to beat as six players return to chase the trophy and 1,287,800 top prize.

The 33-year-old German native, who now calls Vienna home, ended the fifth and penultimate day of the Main Event with 24,800,000 and a commanding lead over the final six. Latvian high roller Aleksejs Ponakovs is in second place with 10,050,000, followed by British poker legend Barny Boatman with 9,675,000. At the bottom of the leaderboard are Owen Dodd (2,950,000), Eric Afriat (2,525,000), and Peter Jorgne (2,400,000).

EPT Paris Main Event Final Table Chip Counts

RankPlayerCountryChip CountBig Blinds
1David KaufmannGermany24,800,000124
2Aleksejs PonakovsLatvia10,050,00050
3Barny BoatmanUnited Kingdom9,675,00048
4Owen DoddUnited Kingdom2,950,00015
5Eric AfriatCanada2,525,00013
6Peter JorgneSweden2,400,00012

Kaufmann may be in a great spot to lift the coveted title, but he admits he hasnt allowed himself to dream about what that moment would be like. Actually, not too much. Ive dreamed of being in a spot like this, to be at a final table like this. But you cant dream, I have to win this tournament, I have to win this tournament. You just have to keep playing. Try to play well, and hopefully, someday, it happens, he said at the conclusion of the day.

It would mean a lot, of course. I would be super happy. Some people care a lot about trophies. Some people dont care much; they just care about the money. Im in the middle.

Kaufmann was helped along the way with two massive hands that propelled him to such a big lead. First, he was involved in a coin flip with Ponakovs for nearly 8,000,000, where his pocket jacks held up against ace-king. Then, in a hand that will live on forever in EPT lore and Ami Barers nightmares, Barer flopped top set of jacks against Kaufmanns set of tens. Kaufmann just called Barers bet of 2,675,000 on the turn as the river brought a third diamond. Barer slowed down and checked, and Kaufmann then moved all in. Barer, with 2,780,000 remaining, tanked for several minutes before mucking.

Its a crazy tournament, Kaufmann said. Its an insane structure. It takes so long. It takes so many days. To be at the final table is insane. I was running so good at the final table. Some miracles happened, like the tens against jacks. Im just happy and be back to give it my best.

Meet the 2024 EPT Paris Main Event Finalists

Kaufmann is looking to go wire-to-wire at the final table and be the last of 1,747 total players, the sixth-largest EPT in history and the largest outside of Barcelona, but hes not the only one for whom a victory would mean a lot. Ponakovs already has $14 million in live earnings and two WSOP bracelets, one of which he won by starring down the legendary Phil Ivey heads-up in 2022, but hell be making his first appearance at an EPT final table.

The 68-year-old Boatman, who has been playing on the EPT since its inception two decades ago, has already locked up his best finish since a fourth-place run at EPT San Remo in 2011 as he chases his first title.

UK pro Dodd wasnt even going to play the event until he was persuaded by a group of friends to enter and has made the final table of his first-ever EPT Main Event. Afriat is a legend on the World Poker Tour, where hes currently tied for second all-time with three titles, but he seldom plays on the European circuit as he tries to bolster his resume with an EPT title.

Then there is Jorgne, the 51-year-old Swedish businessman who now lives in Spain, who has seemingly done the impossible: make it to the final table for the second year in a row. In 2023, when the EPT first came to the French capital, Jorgne finished second to Razvan Belea in a field of 1,606.

This year, in an even bigger field, he has defied all odds to get back on this stage. Jorgne is just the eighth player in EPT history to make it to consecutive final tables of the same event. Four came in the EPT's early days, when field sizes were smaller. Just three have done it since 2010: David Boyaciyan (EPT Prague, 2011-12); Steve ODwyer (EPT London, 2011-12); and Vladislav Naumov (EPT Sochi, 2020-21). None have done it in such massive fields.

Day 5 Action

Day 5 began with 18 players out of a starting field of 1,747. The day started with a bang, as Francesco Delfoco shoved for 1,175,000 on the first hand with seven-three and Hans Erlandsson woke up with aces in the big blind to bust him in 18th place.

Leo Worthington-Leese, a finalist at EPT Monte Carlo last year, came up short of making it to the final table this time as he fell in 17th place to Sindre Hansens full house. Dimitar Danchev was the last remaining EPT champion in the field and was all in with ace-king against Ponakovs ace-three. Danchev flopped trip kings to take a seemingly insurmountable lead in the hand, but Ponakovs made a running flush to bust Danchev in 16th and ensure that a new EPT champion would be crowned.

Kaufmanns ascent to such a commanding lead began when he limped the small blind, Ponakovs raised to 210,000, and Kaufmann three-bet to 650,000. Ponakovs made it 1,090,000, and Kaufmann moved all in for 3,855,000. Ponakovs called with ace-king and was racing against Kaufmanns jacks for the chip lead. Kaufmanns pair held up and he took the chip lead, never surrendering it the rest of the day.

Kaufmann added to his lead when Mathias Siljander bluff-shoved the river with a missed straight draw and Kaufmann called with a rivered full house to eliminate him in 15th, moving his stack past 10,000,000. Ponakovs, who was knocked down to under 400,000 after losing that massive pot to Kaufmann, survived on the river when he rivered a flush to double up.

Erlandsson fell in 14th place, while Ponakovs continued his ascent by eliminating David Tus in 13th. Gonzalo Almeida was involved in a three-way all in where he called for his last 2,000,000 with pocket queens, but both Afriat and Jorgne had kings and split the pot to send the Argentine out in 12th.

Eliot Hudon then moved all in for 2,460,000 with ace-jack and Jorgne called with queens. Jorgne got a dream flop, hitting quads to already leave Hudon drawing dead and heading for the exit in 11th place. Ponakovs eliminated Farid Jattin in 10th place to set up the unofficial final table of nine.

After several hours without a bustout at the final table, Hansen lost a race with ace-queen to Afriats jacks. Left with just 25,000, less than he started the tournament with five days ago, Hansen picked up queens the next hand but Lorenzo Arduini had kings to bust him in ninth place.

Arduini was comfortably in the middle of the pack before losing a big pot with top pair to Kaufmanns turned straight. He then doubled up Barer to leave himself with just 350,000 and, with a few minutes left on the clock before players bagged up for the night, he called all in from the button the next hand with two threes. Kaufmann ended up with a straight and Arduini hit the rail in seventh.

But that wasnt the last knockout of the night. On the last hand, Barer jammed for 4,750,000 with two eights and Kaufmann snapped him off with two aces to bring the field down to the final six.

Final Table payouts

7Ami BarerCanada201,250
8Lorenzo ArduiniItaly154,800

The players return at 12:30 p.m. CET on Sunday, February 25, to play the last 30 minutes of Level 32 with blinds of 100,000-200,000 and a 200,000 big blind ante. Theyve all guaranteed themselves 261,650 for making it this far in such a massive field, but the top prize and gold-laden EPT trophy awaits at the end for one of them.

Eighteen became nine. Nine became six. Now, all thats left is to play down to a winner as PokerNews brings you all the coverage of the EPT Paris final table.

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