While the 2021 World Series of Poker was in the midst of its final few events in Las Vegas Monday, Italy’s Antonello Ferraiuolo won the first bracelet of its European series in the Czech Republic.
Ferraiuolo defeated a 1,789-entry field in the €350 no-limit hold’em opening event to win €77,570 and a seat into the €10,000 WSOP Europe main event. The top three players in the event all won seats into the main event, meaning runner-up Levent Efe and third-place finisher Ion Tabacaru also won seats into the series’ marquee event.
Ferraiuolo became the first Italian player to win a bracelet since Max Pescatori won two in 2015. Based on what he told WSOP live reporters after the tournament, however, he wasn’t the most likely Italian to break the bracelet drought.
“I haven’t been playing live for [the last] three years,” said Ferraiuolo. “At the final table, I was all in maybe four or five times and got lucky.”
Given his chip stack at the start of the final table, getting lucky was basically a prerequisite to a possible victory. Ferrariuolo came into the final table as the short stack, but even he admitted that his chip count had massive swings in both directions.
“But at the final table, there was a lot of up and down,” Ferraiuolo told WSOP live reporters. “Maybe too much movement.”
At the start of the final table, Efe held a sizable chip lead as the Israeli held 41 big blinds compared to Ferraiuolo’s 10. While a couple of top stacks traded positions at the top of the leaderboard nine-handed, Ferraiuolo doubled his stack over several non-showdown hands.
After about a level of play, Andy Schlegel doubled up Tabacaru with A8 against Tabacaru’s KK. It left Schlegel with less than a big blind and he was eliminated in ninth shortly after.
The following level, Marius Gicovanu ran his A-5 into Narcis Nedlcu’s A-K to depart from the final table in eighth place and Gal Aviv was right behind him after he shoved his last 5 big blinds with J10 and ran into Roberto Bizaj’s A3.
Six-handed play was when Ferraiuolo began building a meaningful chip stack. He doubled through Nedelcu when he got all in preflop with 9-9 against Nedelcu’s 8-8 and then scored a double knockout just minutes later.
With blinds of 250,000-500,000 with a 500,000 big blind ante, Logi Laxdal moved all in for 4,325,000 from under the gun and Roberto Bizaj moved all in for 3,900,000 a couple spots over. Ferraiuolo moved all in for 9,980,000 and everybody else got out of the way.
Laxdal at least had two live cards with his 107 up against Bizaj’s AJ and Ferraiuolo’s AQ. The board ran out AK2103 and Ferraiuolo won the pot to eliminate two players and take over the chip lead.
He didn’t hold on to those chips for long, however, as he became the short-stack four-handed during the next level. But he doubled through Efe twice over the next level to move back into second. And scored a massive double up through then-chip leader Nedelcu to take an overwhelming lead.
Nedelcu was eliminated a few hands later when his J-6 couldn’t top Efe’s A-3. Even with Nedelcu’s chips, Efe was still the short stack during the outset of three-handed play, but doubled through Tabacaru when he shoved 106, got called by Tabacaru’s K7 and made two pair to double up and leave Tabacaru with less than two big blinds. Tabacaru was eliminated a couple of hands later, which left Efe and Ferraiuolo heads-up with about even chip counts.
The chip lead changed hands a few times throughout the heads-up match, but ultimately, Ferraiuolo ground his opponent down to just 10 big blinds and put him away.
Ferraiuolo limped in on the button with AA and Efe checked the big blind with 109. On a flop of Q96, Efe check-raised all in and got called. He didn’t improve and Ferraiuolo won the first live poker tournament of his career.
With the victory, Ferraiuolo bumped his career tournament earnings to the U.S. equivalent of $90,652.
Final Table Results: