Aces Over Kings Gives Viorel Gavrila the 888poker LIVE Bucharest Main Event Title

It was a moment that usually only happens in dreams. Viorel Gavrila was heads-up for a title at the final table of the €888 888poker LIVE Bucharest Main Event and looked down at two black aces as his opponent, Admir Qinami, moved all in. That magical scenario made Gavrila a champion and kept the 888poker LIVE trophy at home in his native Romania.

Gavrila prevailed over a field of 191 total entries to win the coveted trophy and collect €30,000, the largest tournament cash of his poker career, after beating Qinami with poker’s ultimate cooler, aces over kings.

Gavrila has a live tournament resume that dates back to 2015 and more than $200,000 in earnings but had never won a major tournament like this one. He won an event here in the Poker Room Bucharest for €19,238 last month and also finished third in a high roller at the 2019 888poker LIVE Bucharest festival. The top prize from this event will push his career earnings past $250,000.

Qinami was denied the victory in a cruel fashion, but he wrote quite a story for himself over the last five days nonetheless. The Albania native had no live tournament cashes before this event. He earned his way to Bucharest through a freeroll on 888poker and turned that into €19,500. Though the ending may have been bittersweet, he still proved the axiom that anyone can win in this game on any given day.

Final Table results

Place Player Country Prize
1 Viorel Gavrila Romania €30,000
2 Admir Qinami Albania €19,500
3 Marius Gicovanu Romania €14,500
4 Andrii Zaika Ukraine €11,500
5 Razvan Belea Romania €9,200
6 Gheorghe Velcea Romania €6,900
7 Konstantinos Vatseris Greece €5,300
8 Maksims Gorbacs Latvia €4,000
9 Alexandru Marcu Romania €3,500

Final Table action

The final table began shortly past 3 p.m. local time as action went quickly. After doubling up early, Alexandru Marcu got his chips in again with jack-nine but couldn’t beat Gavrila’s ace-ten, sending the Day 1b chip leader out in ninth place. Maksims Gorbacs, coming off a deep run in the WSOP Main Event in Las Vegas last month, was eliminated in eighth place when he shoved with ten-nine and Marius Gicovanu called with a dominating queen-ten.

Gavrila, who began the final table in second chip position behind Qinami, rivered the nut flush and got paid by Andrii Zaika, then spiked an ace on the turn to crack Konstantinos Vatseris’ queens to bust him in seventh place. Gavrila then woke up with kings in the big blind after Gheorghe Velcea moved all in from the small blind with ace-queen, flopping top set to leave Velcea drawing dead by the turn and heading off to collect his sixth-place payout.

Razvan Belea, who became a poker hero in his native country when he became the first Romanian to capture an EPT title in Paris in February, moved all in for 605,000 with king-jack but ran into Qinami’s jacks. Belea couldn’t improve and the 2021 champion of this event had to settle for fifth place this time.

Qinami still led at the start of four-handed play, but Gavrila began to catch up when he called a blind-versus-blind shove for 810,000 from Zaika with king-jack and spiked a jack on the flop to beat ace-eight, eliminating the Ukranian in fourth place.

But for all the hands that Gavrila won at the final table, it was the hands he made incredible laydowns that helped him to the victory. He first folded queens on the river early at the final table when Gicovanu bet 750,000 with trip sixes. He later rivered a full house, kings over aces, but Qinami had aces over kings and Gavrila was able to get away from the cooler.

After a lengthy three-handed battle that lasted more than an hour, Gicovanu four-bet shoved for 2,340,000 with nines but Gavrila snapped him off with jacks. Gavrila led Qinami 10,070,000 to 6,740,000 at the start of heads-up and had a chance to end the tournament early on.

Admir Qinami
Admir Qinami

Qinami shoved the turn for 4,600,000 with a flush draw and overcards as Gavrila, with two pair, used up all his time bank cards before deciding to fold. Gavrila reopened a sizeable lead when he flopped two pair. Qinami had a pair and flush draw but missed the river and had to fold to a bet of 3,200,000.

Then came the final hand that had the entire poker room buzzing. Gavrila opened on the button to 250,000 before Qinami three-bet to 725,000. Gavrila made it 1,500,000 and Qinami moved in his last 6,135,000. Gavrila instantly shot out of his seat and called as Qinami stood helplessly by the table watching the board seal his fate.

Gavrila got to accept the trophy and pose for the winner’s photo beside the best hand in poker, two aces. Qinami might have been writing a script worthy of a movie, but it was Gavrila who had the Hollywood ending here in Bucharest.

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