Event #7: €1,650 No-Limit Hold'em Six-Max was extended for an unexpected third day of play but it was well worth it for professional footballer Max Kruse. The German athlete and poker player won his first ever gold World Series of Poker Europe bracelet, €134,152, a seat into the WSOP Europe Main Event and a seat into the 2023 Tournament of Champions.

“I’m overwhelmed. It’s the greatest feeling to have finally won a WSOP bracelet. I’ve wanted to win for 10 years and, of course, it makes me proud," said the newly-crowned champion. 

There were a total of 413 entries in this event, making up a prize pool of €588,525 paying out 62 players when all was said and done. Kruse took home the bulk of the prize pool, but the rest of it was shared among some tough competition. Kruse battled with the likes of WSOP Circuit champion Dorian Melchers who finished as runner-up for €87,059 and was one mere card away from locking up his first piece of gold jewelry. 

Kruse is a professional football player from Germany and has been playing poker for a long time. He's currently injured but poker has certainly filled his time and has paid off significantly, even though the two sports are vastly different. "I think this ranks pretty high. This is a completely different thing. I’ve been training for soccer my whole life and normally I play (poker) just for fun so it’s nice to know that I’m not that bad. Hopefully, it won’t be the last one (bracelet).” 

Now that Kruse has won a ticket to the WSOP Europe Main Event his next goal is to go deep in that, and maybe win a bracelet in Vegas one day. "I can only play as a hobby right now because of my (soccer) career but we’ll see after my career if I continue playing more poker.”

When asked what he is going to do to celebrate his win, Kruse responded, "My friends aren’t here and my wife is away so I’m going to hop right into the 8-game mix.”

Event #7: €1,650 NLH Six-Max Final Table

Familiar crushers that went deep in this event but fell shy of the coveted WSOP bracelet included Farid Jattin (3rd place), Nacho Barbero (6th), Stefan Huber (17th), defending champion Simone Andrian (32nd), Roland Israelashvili (54th), Felipe Ramos (60th) and Tobias Peters (61st).

 Six-Max Final Table Results:

Place Winner Country Prize (EUR)
1 Max Kruse Germany €134,152
2 Dorian Melchers France €87,059
3 Farid Jattin Colombia €63,874
4 Leonid Yanovski Isreal €38,010
5 Orhan Sen Germany €27,482
6 Nacho Barbero Argentina €20,236


Final Day Action:

With just five players remaining in the six-max event, play was still quite deep to start the day. Orhan Sen immediately found a double-up to begin the action after starting the day with around seven big blinds. Unfortunately for him he couldn't keep the momentum going and busted not too long after, getting in ace-seven against the ace-eight of Melchers and getting a low-board run out.

Four-handed play carried on for a while, and chips were passed around a lot on the WSOP Europe Main Event seat bubble. The top three finishers would lock up a ticket so play tightened up significantly. 

Jattin started on a roller coaster ride and was short but then found a double with queen-jack suited against Melchers' pocket tens. This gave him the chips he needed to apply pressure, as he does best, but stacks started to even out.

Leonid Yanovski was short for a while as well, but managed to chip up and doubled with pocket eights against the sevens of Jattin. It looked like the Israeli pro was going to ride the momentum and give himself a fighting chance, but he couldn't get much going after the double-up. Yanovski's final hand saw him call Kruse's small-blind jam with ace-eight in the big blind but the German footballer out-flopped him and he was eliminated in 4th place.

The final three were guaranteed a seat into the WSOP Europe Main Event and the focus was now fully on winning some WSOP gold. After some raise-folds and uncontested shoves, Jattin jammed king-nine suited from the button and was finally looked up by Melchers with ace-eight. Melchers flopped him dead and Jattin would have to settle for 3rd place.

Max Kruse and Dorian Melchers during heads-up play

Heads-Up Play:

Melchers came in to heads-up play with a two-to-one chip lead but Kruse wasn't backing down and got paid with trip queens to bring the two close to even. This didn't stop the Frenchman because Melchers got right back to work and brought himself back to a two-to-one chip lead and began to pull away after scooping several pots in a row. 

Both players traded blows back and forth before Kruse took a slight lead after defending his big blind with king five. He flopped top pair and got paid on both the flop and river, vaulting himself into the lead for the first time during heads-up play.

Not too long after the break, the two heavy-hitters would play their final hand of the tournament. Kruse opened with deuces and Melchers jammed for almost 25 big blinds. Kruse deliberated and eventually decided to flick in the call. Melchers held ace-queen and it was a coin flip for the title. Melchers was the player at risk and drilled a queen on the turn to take a commanding lead.

The river was a gut-wrenching deuce though, and Kruse hit a two-outer on the river to seal the deal and win his first WSOP title. 

"The two-outer is a little bit lucky in the end but the hand was a coin flip. It’s nice to have come from a three-to-one deficit heads-up," said Kruse.

Event #7:  €1,650 No-Limit Hold'em Six-Max Results
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