The inaugural European Poker Tour (EPT) Paris main event attracted a total of 1,606 entries to the Hyatt Regency Paris Étoile, the sixth-largest turnout in the tour’s history. As a result, the prize pool for the €5,300 buy-in no-limit hold’em tournament surged to more than $8.1 million when rendered in US dollars. After two starting flights and five more days of action, 34-year-old Razvan Belea emerged victorious with the title and the top prize of $1,251,900.
“This is unreal. It’s all I’ve ever dreamed of since I started playing poker,” Belea said after coming out on top. “I was watching EPTs all the time, played a couple, and now I’m here. It’s an unbelievable feeling. Everything is possible,” the champion said during the winner’s ceremony.
This victory saw Belea write his name in the history books as the first player from Romania to capture an EPT main event title.
“I’m glad I can do this for you guys,” Belea said when asked about his trailblazing win.
While a multi-table tournament champion will usually walk away with an impressive return on investment for the event, Belea ended up with an eyewatering 220,655 percent ROI thanks to the fact that he satellited into this tournament for just €530 online. This was the largest live tournament cash of Belea’s career, by a margin of nearly $1.2 million.
The top 239 finishers cashed in this event, with big names that ran deep including bracelet winner Andrew Lichtenberger (100th), four-time bracelet winner Adrian Mateos (91st), Johan ‘YoH Viral’ Guilbert (78th), four-time bracelet winner Benny Glaser (69th), bracelet winner Stefan Schillhabel (46th), high-stakes regular TReun Mulder (43rd), Gaelle Baumann (33rd), bracelet winner Ben Heath (26th), Kenny Hallaert (19th), two-time bracelet winner Manig Loeser (18th), bracelet winner Arthur Conan (14th), bracelet winner harry Lodge (13th), and high-stakes online tournament superstar Niklas ‘Lena900’ Astedt (12th).
Belea came into the final day of this week-long tournament as the chip leader with just five players remaining. Henri Kasper was the first to fall, with his A-6 suited running into the A-K of Peter Jorgne. Kasper was drawing dead after the turn and was eliminated in fifth place ($339,244).
The UK’s Brian Delaney lost a big pot with top pair versus a flush draw to fall to the bottom of the leaderboard. He soon got all-in with his A-K leading the K-Q of Belea, but a queen-high runout sent the pot to the Romanian. Delaney earned $441,054 as the fourth-place finisher.
Recent World Poker Tour Prime Paris main event champion Fabrice Bigot was the next to find himself all-in and at risk. He lost a big chunk of his stack in a clash with Jorgne to find himself with fewer than 10 big blinds. Bigot got all-in with AClub SuitQClub Suit leading the 7Spade Suit5Spade Suit of Belea. The board came down KHeart SuitKDiamond Suit6Heart Suit8Diamond Suit9Club Suit and Belea rivered a nine-high straight to drag the pot.
Bigot earned $573,360 and 1,440 Card Player Player of the Year points for his podium finish. With 2,400 total points and $767,750 in year-to-date POY earnings, Bigot is now the fourth-ranked player in the 2023 POY race sponsored by Global Poker.
Final Table Results EPT Paris €5,300 Main Event
Heads-up play began with Belea holding more than a 2:1 chip lead over Jorgne. The Swedish player started off by closing the gap slightly, but Belea was still well ahead when the final hand of the tournament was dealt. Belea min-raised on the button with 7Club Suit6Spade Suit and Jorgne called with 10Heart Suit6Heart Suit from the big blind. The flop came down 10Spade Suit5Spade Suit3Club Suit. Jorgne checked his top pair and then raised Belea’s continuation bet. Belea called with his gutshot and then made a straight on the turn when the 4Heart Suit rolled off the deck.
Jorgne bet 2,600,000 and Belea thought it over before raising to 5,600,000. Jorgne called, leaving himself around 9.3 million behind. The river paired the board with the 4Club Suit. Jorgne moved all-in and Belea made the call, locking up the pot and the title. Jorgne took home $834,707 as the runner-up.
In addition to the seven-figure top prize, Belea also secured 2,160 POY points as the champion, enough to move him inside the top ten in the POY standings.