MPNPT Morocco has drawn to a close and it is Abdelouahab Zizi who is the last man standing after defeating Fadhil Farag heads up to win the 375,000 MAD first prize, the shiny MPNPT trophy and the admiration of the many enthusiastic railers watching the tournament’s denouement, both in the flesh and through the live Twitch stream.
“I enjoyed it very much,” Zizi said happily following his victory. He pointed out the Moroccan style of poker is quite different to that of European poker players. “Here we are a little bit crazy! We can play any two cards…”
The tournament began four days ago, hundreds of poker players descending on the Mazagan Beach resort dreaming of MPNPT glory. The resort couldn’t have been a more perfect environment to house the tournament – lavish marble floors and gold-clad chandeliers exuding an opulence that was accompanied by the warm demeanour of the friendly staff who attended to the players’ needs with such generosity over the tournament duration.
Once the players had dragged themselves away from admiring the awe-inspiring hotel interior, settled into their accommodations and readied themselves for the poker journey ahead, there was a tournament to be played.
In total the two opening days of poker created 340 entries. The field was comprised of a healthy mix of online qualifiers, local Moroccan talent, aspiring professionals and some true legends of the game.
Roger Hairabedian was an example of the latter, his face having been seen in most of the large casinos around the world at some time or other, more often than not collecting a huge cash prize. The multi-million winning poker player threatened yet another deep run and although this hope evaporated on day 2, he managed to burnish his already-glittering poker C.V. with yet another Hendonmob flag.
Irishman David Lappin was one of the young professionals with designs on the trophy. He couldn’t quite pull off victory here but he too skillfully parlayed his entry fee into a profitable cash finish.
The cash positions of the tournament were reached midway through Day 2, though the players had to survive what was a tense bubble period just prior to this, popped in spectacular fashion when four players were eliminated simultaneously! Abdallah Ouahli, Roger Hairabedian, Abdelmajid Essafi and Yassir Libi were the four men to engage in the little known sport of synchronised busting, ultimately the quartet chopping two cashes between them once the exact finishing positions were reckoned. This resulted in 43 players paid instead of the intended 41 players.
The rest of Day 2 saw the field whittled and chopped down to 12 players, just short of the final table, though within three levels of Day 3, three more men saw their challenge dashed on the rocks of variance, leaving these nine men to contend the title:
The final began slowly, the players stepping cautiously as they plotted how best to enact their various strategies but the elimination of Mario Linno in 9th (34,600 MAD) broke the deadlock, Linno losing a flip versus chip leader Mehdi Hsissen. Next to fall was Edinburgh native Paul Johnson, unlucky to have his aces cracked by pocket kings, his fortunes waned further as he too found himself on the losing end of a coin flip versus Hsissen to crash out 8th for 43,000 MAD. Hsissin had been getting the run of these showdowns so it was no surprise when his K-T overturned the A-Q of Frederik Foss to consign the Norwegian to 7th place with 55,000 MAD awaiting him at the cash desk for his sterling performance.
Antti Halme had a roller coaster ride of a final. He was in the chip lead at one point but he fell the wrong side of variance today, 76,000 MAD his consolation once his challenge was ended in 6th place as his shove with sevens ran into Ali Mechiche’s pocket kings.
Hsissen had entered the final as the chip leader and his progress had been relatively serene in the early stages but the wheels fell off in the early evening – Farag winning some key pots off him before finally he was coolered in a tough spot, his pocket queens running into pocket kings to send him out in 5th place. He collected 100,000 MAD to soften the blow.
With three quarters of a million dollars in tournament winnings, Mateusz Moolhuizen came into the final as perhaps the most experienced player, despite being junior in years to many of the players. He negotiated his way through to the last four but his tournament would go no further as Farag’s behind-but-live Q-7 outdrew his big slick to end the Dutchman’s tilt at the title for 140,000 MAD.
Abdelouahab Zizi proved a massive thorn in the side of Ali Mechiche three-handed, laying several painful beats on him and a final outdraw with ace-five versus Mechiche’s queens sealed his exit in 3rd place for 200,000 MAD.
That left Iraqi businessman Farag heads up versus local gynaecologist Zizi. The pair did a deal heads-up to slightly flatten the payout structure and the game was on!
Farag had the chip advantage but the winds of fortune were blowing Zizi’s way and he crippled his opponent by winning an A-6 versus K-Q showdown for most of the chips, then polishing off what was left a few hands later. Farag wins 300,000 MAD for what was a very accomplished performance but his elimination left Zizi as the last man standing and the latest MPNPT winner, collecting a giant 375,000 MAD reward for his troubles!
We send our heartiest congratulations to him for his victory and hope we see him in the next leg. That will take place in Bratislava on April 5th to the 8th. Click here for more details.
That however brings an end to our trip to Morocco. It’s been beautiful, wet, sunny, exciting, inviting and memorable and the poker has been enjoyed by hundreds of players. Thanks to our hosts at the Mazagan Beach Resort who have provided impeccable service, and thanks to Gerard and the dealers, who kept up the high standards we are used to on the tour. It’s been great fun and we look forward to returning sometime and doing it again. Take care poker fans. See you in Bratislava. Get qualifying!
Full Payout List From MPNPT Morocco 2018:
|8||43,000||Paul Johnson||Stan James|
|11||28,000||Abdellah El Ghrari|
|13||22,600||Simon Marks||Stan James|
|15||22,600||Richard Clarke||Stan James|
|21||13,500||Diogo Regerio Gaspar|
|32||12,000||Alan Hayter||Stan James|