Abdelaouhab Zizi has defeated fellow Casablanca resident Fadhil Farag heads up to win the 2018 MPN Poker Tour Morocco Main Event and MAD 375,000 (c. €33,220) after a two-way deal.

The final day saw 12 players return from a total starting field of 340, a mix of online poker qualifiers, MPNPT regulars and local players who all contributed MAD 5,500 + 500 to the MAD 1,813,900 total prize pool. This both surpassed the guarantee and the prize pool of the first MPNPT held here in Morocco in 2016.

Zizi, a gynecologist by profession, has been winning tournaments for years, taking down the very first championship in Marrakech, and playing in live events from Deauville to Las Vegas since. He credits his win to his experience, unique style (“our game here is quite different – we’re a little bit crazy”) and a run of good fortune earlier in the tournament. He won his (first) seat in a live satellite at the Mazagan Beach Resort, but made use of the unlimited re-entry option – to great success, as it turned out.

An even dozen returned for Day 3, but the live-streamed final table could hold only nine. When they had finally been determined, the Day 3 chip leader (and prior third in chips overall after the opening flights) Mehdi Hsissen looked like his run would prove unstoppable. His chip lead was substantial (2,900,000 total); in second lay experienced pro Mateusz Moolhuizen with 2,000,000. But no-limit hold’em is unpredictable at the best of times and with the most forgiving of structures (the blinds were an hour long); the trophy was not to end up in either of their hands.

Nearly two levels elapsed before the final table lost a player, and it was not one of the initial (very) short stacks. Pocket aces vs. pocket kings is a cooler whichever hand wins, but it’s especially eye-watering to be outdrawn. Stan James online poker qualifier Paul Johnson found himself in just such a confrontation with Ali Mechiche, and on the rail in 8th place (MAD 43,000), following flip-losing Mario Linno (9th for MAD 34,600).

Frederik Foss, down to 14 big blinds, found a good hand (A-Q off-suit) and a good spot (three-betting over a Hsissen raise) but when the chip leader called with K-T, he hit a straight and Foss was out (7th for MAD 55,000). That, however, was the beginning of the end for Hsissen, who dropped below the 2,000,000 chip mark after doubling Antti Halme up and then ran queens into Fadhil Farag’s kings to finish in what must have been a disappointing 5th place (MAD 100,000). He did, however, outlast the pro player: Halme busted in 6th (76,000).

New chip leader Farag clearly felt the indestructability of the big stack, as he made a big call (five times his opening raise) with Q-7 off-suit when Moolhuizen moved all-in preflop holding A-K of spades. The deck brought Farag a queen, and boosted his stack to triple that of his challengers three-handed, Mechiche and Zizi.

Ali Mechiche did not have the best start to the day, losing a few blinds because he arrived at 2:30pm, the start of the live stream, half an hour after play restarted. Having made the final table (albeit as the shortest stack), he was still irked by this, but settled in to play in a controlled manner. He was unlucky, in fact, to bust in 3rd (MAD 200,000); for more on all the key hands of the final day, visit the MPN Poker Tour blog.

That left Iraqi/Swedish businessman Farag heads up versus Zizi. 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 won MAD 300,000 for an accomplished performance but his elimination left Zizi as the last man standing and the latest MPNPT winner, collecting a MAD 375,000 reward for his tenacity.

Next up for the MPNPT: A brand new stop in Bratislava, April 5th-8th 2018, held at Banco Casino.

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