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Qualifier Julian Track battles flu to win EPT Prague Main Event

The seventh edition of the European Poker Tour (EPT) Prague poker festival had an epic finale: an online qualifier who doesn’t like to play live battled a final table filled with experienced tournament players to take down the EPT trophy plus an exclusive Slyde watch. In the process, our hero also had to battle himself, Jordan-style, as he had flu-like symptoms throughout the whole final day.

The hero’s name is unknown to the live tournament poker community: Julian Track. The German is much more comfortable playing online while watching his favorite sports games. He doesn’t enjoy the bright lights of such a big event at all. Track was a mystery the whole week and declined interview after interview although he was the chip leader as the eight-handed final table took off. However, he couldn’t say no the final interview, the one specially reserved for the Main Event champion.

“It was a long, long journey for everyone who was sitting here today but I was able to create a big second day one and then things just went very well. I have to say I’ve not been playing as aggressive as today and I made a couple of missteps but I was lucky”, the German said, in a PokerStars TV interview.

Track pointed out that throughout the whole week he never lost more than 20% of his stack and that could have very well been his key to success. What’s more impressive, though, is that he started the final table as the chip leader and never lost it in spite of being pressured by big-time poker pros like 2013 GPI Player of the Year Ole Schemion (who participated in seven more final tables this year besides Prague), 2013 UKIPT Isle of Man High Roller Max Silver, and UKIPT final-table expert and recent third place Eureka Prague finisher Stephen Chidwick.

Silver finished sixth after being eliminated by fellow British pro, Chidwick. He open-shoved a 20 big blind stack with Ace-Ten only to get isolated by Chidwick’s pocket sevens. Silver hit the ten on the flop and was ready to double up after a blank turn but for a disastrous seven river.

Schemion quickly followed afterwards. The 21-year-old German four-bet jammed with almost 34 big blinds after a min-open by Georgios Sotiropoulos and a three-bet by Track. The Greek folded but Schemion’s fellow countryman didn’t want to let go of his pocket sevens and called. Schemion had pocket tens and was crushing the live tournament rookie. But the second street turned things upside down with Track catching a saving set.

As in the Eureka Prague Main Event, Chidwick finished third; but he won €378,000 in the EPT tournament compared to only €92,500 in the Eureka event. The Brit went all-in with Ace-Ten and was called by Sotiropoulos, who had King-Queen. It was a classic 60-40 battle with the small underdog winning the pot.

Everyone thought that heads-up play wouldn’t last long after Track accepted Sotiropoulos’ deal of splitting the final prize pool in half (€700,000) and playing only for €25,700 plus the trophy and the exclusive watch. The German just wanted to finish the day as quickly as possible because of his health issues. He didn’t give up, though, and continued grinding and battling his condition. After three and a half hours, the tournament was finally over when Track called Sotiropoulos’ shove with pocket tens. The Greek had Queen-Jack for a flip but couldn’t catch anything on the board.

“I came for a min-cash. I’m an online qualifier and I came for a min-cash. I was never the best player at the table,” Track admitted. He added that next year’s Aussie Millions event will be his last live tournament as he isn’t used to playing at such a slow pace.

It was a record-breaking Main Event for the Czech Republic capital: 1,007 players from 60 different countries entered the tournament. In 2012, the EPT Prague had 864 entries. Also, the 2013 prize pool of €4,883,950 was a record setter. Overall, including the side events and the Eureka Main Event, there were over 8,550 tournament entries and 2,630 unique players battling for almost €13 million in cash prizes.

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Florian Gheorghe