Nikitina Takes Down WPT National Series Paris

Despite entering the day at the back of the pack, many poker fans felt English pro Sam Trickett was poised to take yet another big title at the WPT National Series Paris final table. As it turned out, Trickett did little to improve his position, finishing the competition in sixth. So who was the best man at the Aviation Club? A woman. Young Russian newcomer Natalia Nikitina, to be exact.

No one’s arguing that Nikitina earned her win, but it was a surprise victory nonetheless considering that the 23-year old newcomer has never played a WPT event before and has only one other live tournament cash to her credit. In 2010, Nikitina placed second in the NL Hold’em Ladies event at PokerStars EPT Vienna. That finish was worth $3,893 and was the sum total of Nikitina’s lifetime tournament earnings prior to her big Paris victory.

The WPT National Diamond Championship carried a €5,000 buy in, so the total prize pool was pretty significant. It wasn’t enough to make Nikitina an instant millionaire, but we’re betting that her €243,830 payday will go a long way toward getting her into even more big events. Nikitina’s win wasn’t the only notable final table surprise, either. The chips were flying yesterday, so it was literally anyone’s game.

The only WPT Paris final table player that ended the day in the same position they started was eighth place finisher Nicolo Calia. In a shocking twist, the next player to hit the rail was Ingo Paulus. Paulus had started the last day with the second highest stack, but a few bad hands and one risky all-in were all it took to finish off the German player.

The next final tabler to go was fan favorite Sam Trickett. It’s a shame the popular Englishman didn’t finish higher, but he still managed to improve his position by one seat before getting axed. Another German player, Tobias Wagner, went out in fifth, officially cutting the final table in half. Fourth place was another shocker. The Day 4 chip leader, French native Benjamin Pollak, was a victim of the same bad luck that claimed Paulus earlier in the action and had a disappointing finish, failing to make it even to the heads-up portion despite his strong initial lead.

With only three players left in the game, Nikitina turned up the heat. Jean-Louis Tepper briefly held the lead, but Nikitina doubled up on an all-in that alternately left Tepper crippled. Nikitina was leading going into the heads-up portion, but her final opponent – Alexandre Brivot – refused to die. Brivot quickly doubled up off Nikitina, leaving her with almost nothing, and it looked like the game was over. Twice, though, Nikitina shoved all-in in brave moves that ultimately put her back on top. With the ball back in Nikitina’s court, Brivot finally succumbed to the femme fatale, handing her her first major title.

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