Kayhan Mokri Breaks Through For a Trophy in the EPT Barcelona €100,000 Super High Roller

A year ago, in this same room, Kayhan Mokri had the shiny trophy that would mark the pinnacle of his ascendant poker career firmly in his sights.

Mokri was the chip leader with six players left in the PokerStars European Poker Tour (EPT) Barcelona Main Event in 2022. He ended up finishing in sixth place, taking home €334,480 but also some bittersweet feelings after coming so close.

Fast forward to 2023, and Mokri has finally found redemption and the defining title that has so far eluded him. The Norwegian pro defeated French high stakes regular Jean-Noel Thorel heads-up to win the EPT Barcelona €100,000 Super High Roller and €750,960 top prize.

Mokri, one of poker’s rising stars, had come close to winning a title so many times before. He had finished second in three events so far this year, including a €25,000 event here in Barcelona just a few days ago. He also finished fourth in the PCA High Roller back in February. Mokri had nearly $2,500,000 in live career earnings but had never actually won a live poker tournament. That changed today.

“I’m taking this with me. Know how many heads-up matches I’ve lost,” Mokri said after finally being able to hoist the trophy, posing for pictures from his friends on the rail.

Mokri’s run in the Main Event last year and his win in the Super High Roller cap a rapid rise for a player who’s quickly becoming one of the top names in the game. Mokri grew up watching the likes of Timothy Adams and Steve O’Dwyer compete on EPT live streams. Now he’s playing amongst them and, for today at least, beating them.

He became a professional in 2017 and quickly became a regular in Bobby’s Room in Las Vegas, competing in the highest-staked cash games around. Six-figure pots weren’t uncommon. Mokri only transitioned to playing more tournaments last year and quickly established a name for himself, making eight final tables in 2023 alone. He’s now a familiar face in high roller tournaments, playing against the same players he once idolized; his largest career score came in a $250,000 event in London earlier this month, where he finished in eighth place for $860,000.

Final Table Results

Place Player Country Prize
1 Kayhan Mokri Norway €750,960
2 Jean-Noel Thorel France €471,500
3 Steve O’Dwyer Ireland €314,300
4 Sam Grafton United Kingdom €209,600

Day 2 Action

Mokri began the day as a massive chip leader with 1,713,000, thanks largely to a fortunate ace on the river in a massive pot against Sam Grafton on Day 1, and had nearly a million more than Alejandro Lococo in second place.

O’Dwyer, Thorel, Grafton, and David Yan jumped back in at the start of the day, creating a total field of 18 entries and €1,746,360 prize pool. Yan had a short stay, setting up the nine-handed final table.

Mokri won a big pot off Lococo with a set of jacks early at the final table to climb near 2,000,000. Patrik Antonius was the first to exit, moving all in with fives but running into Thorel’s jacks in the big blind. O’Dwyer and Felipe Ketzer then tangled in a 600,000-chip pot as O’Dwyer picked up aces while Ketzer had ace-king, sending the Brazilian to the rail in eighth place.

Lococo, down to 85,000, then moved all in with ace-five but ran into Mikalai Vaskaboinikau’s dominating ace-king, ending the Argentinian rapper’s run in seventh. The six remaining players then jostled for three hours, moving up and down the chip count leaderboard as the levels progressed. But there was one constant: Mokri’s spot at the top as he maintained his big advantage.

Adams finally shoved for 163,000, and Vaskaboinikau called. Grafton then reshoved for 306,000 and won a race with ace-king against Vaskaboinikau’s ace-queen and Adams’ nines to double up off the Belarusian while sending Adams to the rail in sixth. Vaskaboinikau was left short and lost another coin flip with eights to Mokri’s ace-king a short time later to be eliminated on the money bubble.

Mokri caught a lucky break, again against Grafton, when Grafton called all in for 400,000 with two kings against Mokri’s ace-three. Grafton was poised for a double up until a straight came on the board, chopping the pot. Grafton was then sent out in fourth place when he called all in with a straight, but Thorel had two kings for a rivered full house.

Sam Grafton - Jean-Noel Thorel

At the dinner break, Mokri led with 2,155,000 to Thorel’s 1,620,000 and 725,000 for O’Dwyer. Thorel took the chip lead from Mokri for the first time in the day when he called a bet of 500,000 on the river with two pair. While it was Mokri who took out a short-stacked O’Dwyer in third place, Thorel led 3,165,000 to 1,335,000 at the start of heads-up.

Mokri dropped down to 600,000 at one point during the duel but steadily increased his stack until he tied the match by calling two bets from Thorel with just ace-high. Mokri then five-bet shoved to retake the chip lead, one he would never relinquish.

Jean-Noel Thorel
Jean-Noel Thorel

On the last hand, Mokri bet 175,000 on an ace-high board. Thorel then jammed for 870,000, and Mokri tank-called with ace-queen for top pair. Thorel had straight and flush draws but missed the river as Mokri secured the trophy. Thorel had to settle for another runner-up finish. The French businessman, who spent his career building a pharmaceutical empire and now occupies his time regularly competing and beating the top players in the game, finished second to Adams in a $125,000 event earlier this month for $2,830,000. He was also second at the $250,000 Super High Roller at the PCA in January.

It was a title that was a long time coming for one of poker’s newest stars. Mokri had the results over the past year to establish himself as one of the game’s best, and it all started here a year ago. Now he has the trophy he’d been missing all along.

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