Raffaele Sorrentino has won the 2017 PokerStars Championship presented by Monte-Carlo Casino®. The Italian regular, now living in Mexico, walked away with over €466,000 after making a deal heads-up with Andreas Klatt.
"I'm very happy," Sorrentino said. "It's a dream come true. I was thinking about this one week ago. Every day, I got more and more [close]."
In the end, happiness was accompanied by another feeling.
"I was really, really tired," Sorrentino admitted after finishing the six-day event.
Sorrentino's opponent Klatt walked away with €402,786. The German already had a pretty good week as he won the 1,252-entry PokerStars National Championship event earlier this festival for €151,445. He'll have a huge early lead on the MonteDam Swing leaderboard, a PokerStars promotion with the WPT that now heads to Amsterdam for its third and fourth legs, the upcoming WPT events.
Start-of-day chip leader Michael Kolkowicz crashed in fifth place as nothing worked for him on the last day of play.
In the 17th hand of play, Diego Zeiter was the first to go. A couple hands before, he had admirably gotten away from top pair in a three-way pot, but finding ace-jack with 11 big blinds to play made things easy. He pushed all in, only to run into the ace-queen of chip leader Kolkowicz.
Michael Kolkowicz, a French recreational player who had gotten married in this very room 10 years ago, started out as the chip leader with 4.6 million. Soon, though, he was in the possession of over 8 million in chips as everything went his way initially.
His reign as chip boss wasn't for long, as Sorrentino took over during five-handed play. Sorrentino repeatedly got the best of Kolkowicz and would eventually also play a role in the demise of Kolkowicz.
As Sorrentino's aggressive play on a table of passive players soared him over the 10 million mark, Kolkowicz trended downward rapidly. After some 40 more hands, the two clashed in back-to-back hands with Sorrentino coming out on top in both. Not much later, Michael Kolkowicz shoved for his last 12 big blinds with six-deuce over an open raise by his nemesis. Sorrentino called with ace-five and flopped two fives to just about end it. Kolkowicz picked up some outs on the turn but the river failed to improve him and the Frenchman was out just like that.
The two Russian players were next to go. Maxim Panyak, a high-stakes OFC player who qualified for this event online, got it in with ace-ten to king-jack and saw a still-hot Sorrentino hit a king. Andrey Bondar, who appeared to be playing very tight, followed a couple of hands later, getting it in with top pair against two-pair on the turn. The river was a brick and Bondar had to leave the heads up to Sorrentino and Klatt.
Klatt hadn't done much up until that point, mostly avoiding big pots. If there's ever a master class going to be taught on laddering up, he should be considered as a case study as Klatt sneaked his way to heads-up without making too many waves.
Klatt still had a respectable stack to start the mano-a-mano battle, and he and Sorrentino instantly started talking chop when Bondar exited. The two quickly agreed to a deal and left that paid each over €400,000 and left €15,000 in the middle to play for.
After a 60-minute dinner break, the Italian and German shook hands and went to battle. Sorrentino, who now lives in Mexico but shared an apartment with Mustapha Kanit in Malta before that, started off best but both were winning their fair share of pots. They were deep, and given that both hadn't shown extreme aggression throughout the day, railbirds were getting ready for a long heads-up match. In the end, though, it wasn't long at all before the money went in.
After just 29 hands of heads up, Klatt got dealt queens and Sorrentino aces. It wasn't for long before the chips were in the middle and under a minute later, Sorrentino was celebrating winning the biggest prize of his poker career.
In the aftermath of the Main Event, PokerStars Director of Live Events Edgar Stuchly took over the mic as he prepared to present Sorrentino with his trophy. He said PokerStars Championship Monte Carlo drew nearly 10,000 entries across its dozens of tournaments over the past week-plus.
"The first PokerStars Championship in Europe was a great success," he said.
The next PokerStars event you can follow on PokerNews is the PokerStars Festival Chile. PokerNews will be on the floor reporting the $3,300 High Roller (May 21-23) and $1,650 Main Event (May 23-27). PokerStars Championship Sochi will begin around that time as well. PokerNews will be in Sochi to bring you stories from the Super High Roller (May 23-25), and updates from the Main Event (May 25-31), Single-Day High Roller (May 26) and regular High Roller (May 29-31) in what could very well be the biggest ever poker tournament in Russia.