Maxime Chilaud

The character of Don Jose in Georges Bizet’s classic opera Carmen is a tragic figure, seduced by the eponymous gypsy as he abandons his career and childhood sweetheart before getting overcome by jealousy and rage.

Maxime Chilaud was not a tragic figure in the Merit Poker Carmen Series $3,300 Main Event. He was more like the dashing toreador Escamillo, acclaimed by the crowds and getting everything he wanted. Chilaud wanted chips and made it a mission to get every single one of them over the last three days.

Chilaud ended Days 2 and 3 as the chip leader, and he ended the tournament with every chip in play after beating Michael Magalashvili in heads-up to win the Merit Poker trophy and $376,800 top prize, his largest career score.

“It was really crazy. I doubled my stack on Day 1 after ten minutes, and after that, I was always a top stack until the final table or right before. I had a really good three days. I had to be lucky a few times,” Chilaud said following his victory.

Success here at the exotic Merit Crystal Cove Hotel and Casino along the Mediterranean shore of North Cyprus is nothing new to Chilaud. He won the High Roller at the Merit Poker Vintage Series in November for $184,000, the first six-figure cash in a career that dates back to 2013. He keeps returning here, and it paid off today when he bested the 765-player field to add another trophy to his collection.

“It means a lot because it’s my biggest win in a tournament live after ten years. It was already my biggest four months ago in the High Roller. Cyprus is really good for me,” Chilaud said. “I don’t do many live tournaments, but I always go to Cyprus. There are really good tournaments here. It’s really fun to be here. I always have a good time in Cyprus. It’s nice to play, and I feel lucky.”

Final Table Results

Place Player Country Earnings
1 Maxime Chilaud France $376,800
2 Michael Magalashvili Israel $277,500
3 Yuksel Savsa   $170,300
4 Simeon Spasov Bulgaria $125,900
5 Eduard Barsegian Russia $94,300
6 Atanas Pavlov Bulgaria $76,200
7 Fausto Tantillo Italy $63,000
8 Walter Treccarichi Italy $50,200
9 Denis Kapustin Russia $37,700

Day 4 action

Day 4 began with 19 players remaining chasing the title. Boris Smuskevicius (17th), Davut Aydemir (16th), Roman Kolotiuk (15th), Nariman Yaghmai (12th), and Maroun Jazzar (11th) were all eliminated short of making the official nine-handed final table.

Chilaud went into the final table in fourth place, part of a tight bunch at the top of the leaderboard that saw five players separated by less than 2,000,000. He began his ascension back to the top early, flopping a set of queens to win a pot against Fausto Tantillo’s ace-king.

Eduard Barsegian, making his third final table appearance at the Merit Poker Carmen Series, earned a massive double up when his jacks survived against Walter Treccarichi’s ace-king of hearts, dodging overcards and the nut flush draw on the turn and river. Denis Kapustin was the first bustout at the final table, losing a race with eights to Tantillo’s ace-queen.

Treccarichi, who would’ve become chip leader if he won the pot against Barsegian, instead exited in eighth place after running king-queen into Atanas Pavlov’s ace-king. Chilaud won another big pot off Tantillo when he flopped trip threes and Tantillo called a bet of 2,200,000 on the turn with just ace-high before folding to a shove on the river.

Tantillo, who began the final table as chip leader, defended his big blind with ten-seven and flopped top pair. Yuksel Savsa, though, had ace-ten to bust him in seventh place. Soon after, Magalashvili made the nut flush to beat Pavlov’s two sevens to bring the tournament to its final five players.

Barsegian enjoyed a moment as chip leader before tangling in a pot against Chilaud, who overbet the pot on the river with two pair and Barsegian called with just a pair of sixes to drop to less than ten big blinds. Barsegian then moved all in with queen-jack, Magalashvili called with ace-three, and the flop gave Magalashvili two pair.

Barsegian finished in fifth place in the Warmup earlier in this festival. He was fifth in the High Roller and was fifth in January’s Merit Poker Western Series Main Event. Not to buck the trend, he was fifth here again today, making it an incredible four consecutive fifth-place finishes in Merit Poker Main Event vents.

The remaining four players then took a break, with Magalashvili and Chilaud separating from Simeon Spasov and Savsa. On the first hand back, Chilaud won a race with ace-king against nines to bust Spasov in fourth place. He then collided with Magalashvili in what was the biggest pot of the tournament so far, flopping trip aces as Magalashvili called a bet of 9,000,000 on the river with two pair, aces and queens.

Chilaud then busted Savsa in third place with ace-ten to ace-nine, leading 64,100,000 to 12,300,000 at the start of heads-up play. Magalashvili won most pots early in the heads-up match to narrow the gap before he jammed the flop for 23,800,000 with a flush draw. Chilaud called with a higher flush draw and spiked a king on the turn to make a pair and leave Magalashvili drawing dead.

Michael Magalashvili
Michael Magalashvili

The two opponents enjoyed a friendly rapport during the match. Magalashvili even posed for a picture with the new champion afterwards as his impressive run ended in second place.

Chilaud was the last man standing. He wrote his own grand symphony here in North Cyprus and ended it with him as the conquering hero.

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David Salituro

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Maxime Chilaud Makes Beautiful Music at the Merit Poker Carmen Series $3,300 Main Event ($376,800)