Jan Bendik topped a record field at the EPT Grand Final Main Event on Friday, defeating Adrien Allain heads-up for just over $1 million. And with 1,098 runners, this was the biggest EPT Grand Final in the event’s twelve-year history.
The 51-year-old Slovakian is a well-suited Grand Final winner, having blazed a trail through the tour over the last few years.
In fact, Bendik was EPT Player of the Year in Season Nine, cashing in a whopping 16 events for during the tour, including winning four events and making nine final tables.
Until now, though, a major main event title has remained elusive, as he told the PokerStars Blog after his victory.
“I’ve been trying for this my whole career,” said an emotional Bendik. “Before this, the biggest tournaments I’d won were €2,000 [buy-ins]. I’ve played a lot of final tables, so I wasn’t thinking specifically about EPT Main Event ones today. But if you look me up, when I’ve made it to heads-up, apart from one time, I’ve always won.
“That’s why I didn’t want to make any deal,” he continued. “I trusted myself to beat my opponent heads-up. A lot of luck had to be involved to make that happen but that’s part of the game.”
Year of the Pro
Bendik’s win here crowns a season in which well-known pros have thrived. Since John Juanda got the ball rolling in Barcelona, it’s been the recognized players who have risen to the top throughout Season 12, as opposed to the talented but unknown newcomers that we’ve seen so often of late.
One such recognized player who was desperate to win something in Monte Carlo, just so he could have the pleasure of sticking it to PokerStars, was Justin Bonomo.
Bonomo has been a fierce critic of PokerStars’ recent changes to its player rewards system, which favors recreational players at the expense of high-volume, high-stakes players.
“Playing the EPT MC 100k Super High Roller. I will be refusing all media requests from Pokerstars and the EPT. Pokernews, GPL etc. are ok,” tweeted Bonomo last week.
The Big Picture
While things didn’t quite work out for Justin at the 100K, he did manage to bink a 2K side event for $126,568, finally allowing him his moment in the limelight, or deliberately perverse, vis-a-vis PokerStars, at least.
Judging by Bonomo’s Twitter account, it appears that he was initially told by a floor man that if he didn’t do the official PokerStars champion photo moment, he wouldn’t get paid.
Bonomo then agreed to that photo, but only if he could hold up a sign saying, “They said they won’t pay me if I don’t take this photo.” He was then informed he would be paid minus the photo, but has been banned hereafter from all live PokerStars events.
It’s probably safe to say that Bonomo and PokerStars are no longer on speaking terms.