Before entering the Berlin leg of the European Poker Tour, 22 year-old Ben Wilinofsky was already a well-respected online player. The young Canadian had already clocked up winnings of $2,174,454 from online tournaments since he began playing back in August 2007. The 2 times triple crown winner is also an instructor at PocketFives, where he specialises in MTT games. The EPT Berlin $5000 Main Event represents his first ever major live tournament win.
Making it down to the final table of eight, Wilinofsky was already out in front as chip leader; deep-stacked with 5.225 million. However, he was closely followed by German Maximilian Heinzelmann on 4.97 milion, and Belarusian Vadzim Kursevich on 4.345 million. Yet it seemed the Canadian was firmly in his element, swiftly winning a major pot in order to commandeer half the chips in play. He made it clear he was taking no prisoners, eliminating Joep van den Bijgaart in 7th place, and Armin Mette in 5th, crushing Mette’s pocket twos with an incredible A-K, which swiftly turned into quad Aces.
Kursevich thought he had Wilinofsky beat with his pocket A♣-K♣, along with a K♠ Q♠ J♣ flop. However, the gods all seemed to be smiling on Wilinofsky alone, who produced a straight with his 10-9 and pushed out Kursevich in 3rd place.
As the heads-up phase began, Wilinofsky was leading with an impressive 7 to 3 chip lead, and he never relinquished it. Heinzelmann pushed all-in with 8-9 and with 8-5-3 on the flop, for what was about to become the final hand of the tournament. Wilinofsky called with his 6-7 open-ended straight draw.
As a 9 appeared on the turn, it was over for Heinzelmann, who left with €500,000 in runner-up place. Wilinofsky was crowned the 2011 EPT Berlin Champion, and took €825,000 ($1,192,000) in prize money. As he received his trophy he exclaimed: “This is ridiculous. How does this happen to anyone?.” He later added to his facebook profile “RIP legendary Hendon Mob page.”
Not bad for a first-time live tournament entry. Not bad at all.