Martin Kozlov Wins SHRPO Championship After Epic Final Table

Martin Kozlov navigated a 13-hour final table to win the SHRPO Championship. (SHRPO photo)

Australian Martin Kozlov made a name for himself in the United States last summer when he made multiple final tables at the World Series of Poker, capped off by his win in the $10,000 Six Max Championship event. On Tuesday, Kozlov made his way through a field of 887 to make it to the Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open Championship final table as part of the SHRPO Big 4. Following a marathon 13-hour session, Kozlov walked away with the title and $754,083 first place prize.

The first player ousted was Joe Kuether, who was playing with history on his side. Kuether became the first player in the three-year history of the Big 4 to make multiple final tables, as he was also in the $1,100 lineup. Kuether started the final table as the short stack and was out on the 22nd hand of play.

Kuether was all in for 1,120,000 and was in the middle of a major cooler with KcKd against the AcAh of Dylan Drazen. There was no help on the board for Kuether and he exited the final table. Kuether finished in eighth place in the $1,100 event and earned a combined $91,000 for his two cashes.

The final table played deep throughout and it took another 34 hands before Luke Breretonwas eliminated next. Yi Chi Li opened to 150,000 and Brereton shoved for 1,180,000. Li called with AdJh and had to hit against the 6d6h of Brereton. A jack hit the flop and that was it for Brereton.

Following the cooler of an elimination for Joe Kuether, Adam Levy experienced a similar fate against Michael Aron. Aaron Mermelstein opened under the gun to 175,000 and Aron three-bet to 475,000 on the button. Levy ripped it in for 2,650,000 from the small blind and only Aron called, showing down KdKh. Levy’s QdQh was dominated and he headed to collect his $126,305 consolation prize once a king hit the flop.

Mermelstein started the final table as the chip leader but wound up finishing sixth with Matt Berkey the one to send him packing. Berkey limped under the gun and Li did the same from one seat over. Dylan Drazen raised to 500,000 in the cutoff and Mermelstein shoved for 2,350,000 in the big blind. Berkey called with AdAh and showed the bad news to Mermelstein’s JdJs after the table folded. Once the board ran dry, Berkey was in control of the chip lead.

It took three hours for the next elimination to take place and then the field was down to two in only 30 hands.

With the blinds at 75,000/150,000, Aron shoved the button with AdTs for 3,900,000 and Berkey called with 9c9h from the big blind. The board was no help to Aron and he took home fifth place.

Kozlov was able to gain control of the chip lead from Berkey shortly after the elimination of Aron.

Kozlov opened to 300,000 under the gun and Berkey three-bet to 800,000 on the button. Kozlov shoved for 6,000,000 and Berkey called with JdJs. Kozlov’s QdQh was in the lead and he held through the nine-high board to double up.

A severely short-stacked Li busted in fourth. All in for only three big blinds, Li was up against Drazen and Berkey. On a board of Jh9d3s3c, Drazen bet out Berkey and showed Jd9c against the Qd5h of Li. A queen did not come on the river and Li left to collect $252,481.

Berkey was on the ropes not long after and met his end in Hand 208. Kozlov opened to 300,000 on the button with AcQh and called the 3,900,000 shove from Berkey, who held Ad5s. Kozlov flopped trip queens and would enter heads up play with 16,325,000 chips to the 10,325,000 of Drazen.

The heads up match lasted 37 hands with Kozlov never relinquishing the lead and ending the long final table. With the blinds at 125,000/250,000, Kozlov opened the button to 600,000 and Drazen called. The KdQh8h flop was check-called for 400,000 by Drazen. Drazen checked the 4s turn and Kozlov bet 2,600,000. Drazen called and then checked the 2h river. Kozlov moved all in for effectively 6,000,000. Drazen thought it over and called with Jh8d but Kozlov’s set of kings KhKc would seal him the victory.

Final Table Payouts

  1. Martin Kozlov – $754,083
  2. Dylan Drazen – $528,322
  3. Matt Berkey – $341,618
  4. Yi Chi Li – $252,481
  5. Michael Aron – $191,437
  6. Aaron Mermelstein – $152,547
  7. Adam Levy – $126,305
  8. Luke Brererton – $100,408
  9. Joe Kuether – $75,413