Alex Kulev

The €100,000 EPT Monte Carlo Super High Roller from the 2023 PokerStars European Poker Tour presented by Monte-Carlo Casino®️ has wrapped up on its third day of play with Alex Kulev, taking home the trophy, title and first-place spoils.

The seven players who returned to the felt today battled it out for the lion’s share of the €3,589,740 prize pool. Kulev received €1,036,287 for the win after defeating Mikita Badziakouski in heads-up play. The final two agreed on a heads-up ICM deal, with Badziakouski also getting an extra €3,500. The duo would then compete for the remaining €43,074 as well as the bragging rights.

The win marked Kulev capturing his first major title, and his exploits on the felt secured the biggest score of his career. It also pushed him over the $2.5 million mark in live tournament earnings.

Final Table Payouts

Place Player Country Prize (EUR) Entries
1 Alex Kulev Bulgaria €1,036,287* 1
2 Mikita Badziakouski Belarus €1,009,853* 1
3 Ben Heath United Kindom €556,400 1
4 Artur Martirosian Russia €412,800 1
5 Adrian Mateos Spain €323,100 1
6 Orpen Kisacikoglu Turkey €251,300 1

*Denotes heads-up deal

Winner’s Interview

Alex Kulev

“I was really fortunate throughout the whole event. This whole occasion is so very special to me. It’s my first big live event, and I love the city, I love PokerStars, and I really appreciate the chance that I get to perform on the stage.” a delighted Kulev told PokerNews

Kulev came into the final day as the chip leader, but that doesn’t always mean going the distance. There have been many instances of the big stack falling short of the final hurdle, but it wasn’t a concern for the champion.

“I did have the confidence [to win]. But in our game, when especially with this calibre of players that were at this final table, luck plays a major factor. So I just got very lucky in all the right moments”

And as always, the Super High Rollers bring out poker’s elite players, and Kulev pointed to that challenge as why he loves playing in these fields.

“That’s one of the main reasons why I played this game. To play against opponents who, you know, are extremely good, and they give me a chance to improve by observing them. The whole challenge is what captivates me and excites me to play,” added Kulev.

Action from Day 3

SHR Final Table

When the finalists began to play, they were on the money bubble, with the top finishers walking away with a return on their €100,000 investment.

It was a cagey affair to start off with as players were folding premium hands preflop to avoid leaving empty-handed. However, the bubble finally burst in the second level of the day after Santhosh Suvarna’s pocket nines were bested by the ace-jack held by Adrian Mateos in an all-in preflop encounter. Suvarna’s bust out also meant that every player who cashed did so off one buy-in.

The players then went on a break after completing that level, and when they came back, it didn’t take long for the next elimination. Orpen Kisacikoglu bowed out in sixth place after he ran his ace-queen into Badziakouski’s ace-king suited. The latter would go on to river a flush to send Kisacikoglu to the wrong side of the rail. Kisacikoglu collected the €251,300 min-cash, which is a nice addition to the €497,090 he picked up for winning a €25,000 NLH event at EPT Monte Carlo just a few days ago.

Adrian Mateos
Defending Champion Adrian Mateos

It was then confirmed that there would be a new player EPT Monte Carlo Super High Roller Champion, as Mateos’ title defence fizzled out following a blind versus blind confrontation with Ben Heath, who had just pulled off back-to-back double-ups. Heath moved in with ace-nine, and Mateos tank-called for his tournament life with king-three. Neither player connected on the runout, and the tournament was brought to four-handed play.

After hitting the river to survive twice already, Artur Martirosian was once again all in and at risk of elimination. Heath jammed as the bigger stack from the small blind with king-three, and Martirosian called with ace-eight. Heath turned trip kings to leave his opponent drawing dead and brought the tournament to the final three.

But that’s where Heath’s good fortune would end, as he was the next final table casualty as Kulev’s king-five stayed ahead of the former’s queen-nine.

A heads-up ICM deal was then agreed upon, and it was determined that Badziakouski would lock up €993,213 while Kulev would get at least €1,009,853. They then duked out for the remaining €43,074.

Alex Kulev - Mikita Badziakouski

Heads-up play then began with Badziakouski having the chip lead by just two big blinds. And his experience began to show in the early goings, with momentum on his side. However, a defiant Kulev battled back and swung the chip lead in his favour after he rivered an ace against Badziakouski’s flopped top pair.

The players were then sent on their final break, and when play resumed, the start-of-day chip leader produced the finishing blow after hitting a three-outer when all the chips went into the middle preflop.

Name Surname
Calum Grant

Editor & Live Reporter

Calum has been a part of the PokerNews team since September 2021 after working in the UK energy sector. He played his first hand of poker in 2017 and immediately fell in love with the game. Calum’s proudest poker achievement is winning the only tournament he has ever played in Las Vegas, the prestigious $60 Flamingo evening event.

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Alex Kulev Captures EPT Monte Carlo €100,000 Super High Roller Title (€1,036,287)