The Czech Republic’s Josef Gulas Jr. outlasted French high roller Johan Guilbert to win the World Series of Poker Europe Main Event title and €1,276,712 ($1,448,289) first-place prize at King’s Casino in Rozvadov on Wednesday Night.
Gulas leveraged every bit of his home-court advantage in a rollercoaster of a ride that had the “businessman and car salesman” starting the day as the overwhelming chip leader, slipping down to the short stack, and battling back – multiple times – to eventually take home the biggest payday of his career.
“It’s an incredible feeling. I am truly thankful and happy,” said Gulas after his win. “It was a perfect tournament with a very nice structure in the best casino in Europe. Just incredible!”
Although the final table took some time to complete, nearly nine hours and 139 hands, it took just 15 minutes for Thomas Denie‘s tournament to come to an end in a massive hand that sent him to the rail. Denie found himself all-in pre-flop with , way behind Athanasios Kidas with and that stayed the case through the board of to make his way from the table for a result worth €163,434.
Aleksandar Trajkovski was the next man to bust. With the blinds at 125,000/250,000 (250,000 bb ante) Guilbert opened to 500,000 under the gun holding the and Trajkovski defended his big blind off the short stack with the . Trajkovski hit top pair on the flop and checked it over to Guilbert who put in a small bet of just 250,000. Trajkovski then check-shipped his remaining five big blinds and was snapped off by Guilbert, looking to hit a flush or running cards. The turn was the , bringing Guilbert more outs. But it was the river that sent Trajkovski to the rail in sixth place for €217,854.
With five players left, only Stanislav Koleno was short-stacked and under pressure to make something happen. The Slovenian got his remaining chips into the middle on a flop of holding but overnight chip leader Josef Gulas made the call with . The turn didn’t help Koleno other than adding a gutshot straight draw, but the river ended those hopes, sending him to the cash desk for a fifth-place finish worth €292,862.
With four players left, Guilbert doubled through Gulas Jr. (aces vs. kings) to grab a chip lead of 24 million, ahead of Athanasios Kidas with 17.4 million, Alexander Tkatschew (16.9m), and Gulas (10.3m) who slipped to the short stack. And for the best part of an hour, very little changed other than the stacks behind Guilbert evening up a little.
That was not the case for the next hour. Tkatschew had the lead while Guilbert fought back. The home country’s hope in Gulas Jr. battled for his tournament life on more than one occasion. And, after an epic see-sawing of the chips, Greek player Kidas found himself on the outside looking in as the short stack.
In the battle of the short stacks, Gulas was the aggressor as he shoved pre-flop for 22 big blinds with . Kidas, down to just 13 big blinds, called off his stack with and the pair watched as the board of sent Kidas out in fourth for a result worth €401,344.
Germany’s Tkatschew took over the chip lead for a short time until Guilbert was able to lift a big pot off him to reclaim the top of the leaderboard. Then, slowly, Tkatschew’s stack began to shrink and for nearly two hours he navigated a stack of under 20 bigs.
Eventually, though, Tkatschew could hang on no longer when he ran into Guilbert holding another big hand. With the blinds at 250,000/500,000 (500,000 bb ante) Guilbert put in a raise from the button to 1 million holding the and Tkatschew defended his big blind with the . The flop came , giving Tkatschew top pair and Guilbert the nut flush draw. Guilbert didn’t have to wait long for his flush to come in as the turn came the and now Tkatschew led for 1.3 million. Guilbert just called, leaving Tkatschew with roughly a half-pot bet behind. The river came the and when Tkatschew moved all-in, Guilbert insta-called and showed Tkatschew the winning hand. Tkatschew made his way out of the tournament area, finishing in third place for €558,505.
Guilbert had a two-to-one chip lead over Gulas Jr. headed into heads-up play but the momentum quickly shifted to Gulas when the pair got involved in an all-in confrontation with Gulas’ holding against Guilbert’s .
After that, both players slowed the pace of play way down as they traded blows back and forth. Guilbert regained the lead when he rivered a flush versus Gulas’ turned straight. Then Gulas took it right back when he flopped two pair with his against Guilbert’s on the flop.
Eventually, Gulas took control and broke out into a large chip lead headed into what would be the final hand of the tournament. On the button, Gulas open-shipped his massive chip lead holding the and Guilbert snap-called it off for just over 10 big blinds with his . The flop came , keeping Guilbert in the lead. The turn changed nothing. But the river was the , giving Gulas a pair and ending Guilbert’s tournament as the runner-up for €789,031.
Gulas Jr. gave a fist pump as he secured the win, the WSOP Europe Main Event bracelet, and the €1,276,712 first-place prize.
WSOP Europe Main Event Final Table Results
- Josef Gulas Jr. – €1,276,712
- Johan Guibert – €789,031
- Alexander Tkatschew – €558,505
- Athanasios Kidas – €401,344
- Stanislav Koleno – €292,862
- Aleksandar Trajkovski – €217,854
- Thomas Denie – €163,434