32-year-old Branimir Brunovic, a trainee lawyer from Zagreb in Croatia won the 2007 PartyPoker.net European Challenge, the climax of the Spring Poker Festival at the Concord Card Casino in Vienna.

VIENNA, March 20 /PRNewswire/ —

Brunovic, an online qualifier, took the title winning EUR190,160 after a heads-up battle with Andreas Krause, a respected professional player from Stuttgart, Germany. After a marathon final table, Brunovic's Ace-Eight off suit held-up against Krause's King-Jack off suit to give him first prize and the trophy.

Brunovic is not a professional on the circuit but is part of a small group of players who are making a name for themselves in Croatia. He has one year to go before he is fully qualified in civil law and is currently working an internship at a court house in Zagreb after studying the core subjects at University in the city.

"I play in as many tournaments as I can but this was the greatest experience and by far the biggest win I have had. With the legal training it is going to be very useful to have all the extra money. I am going to play a few more big live games now but am going to sleep for a few nights and have a good think about what I am going to do with the money. What a nice problem to have!" said Brunovic.

"Poker has a big future in Croatia and is growing bigger everyday. We have a good set of players who are playing regularly. It started with just a few of us but the group is getting larger all the time. We've been particularly successful in the biggest tournaments in Slovenia. I was runner-up in the biggest tournament there two years ago," he added.

The Croatian legal eagle has played poker for 10 years and was one of three Eastern Europeans on the final table. At the start, he was the third biggest chip stack but things didn't go that well for him until the closing hours. Many expected Peter Gelencser from Hungary to win after he accumulated the majority of chips on the table when it was three-handed but it was Brunovic and Krause who hammered away at the big stack to ruin the talented Hungarian's dreams. The key turning point was when Brunovic held pocket aces with Gelencser on Queen-Jack off suit. Gelenscer raised pre-flop and Brunovic trapped him by just calling. A Queen came on the first card of the flop and Peter lost a huge proportion of his stack.

Other players made an impression on the final table. Katharine Hartree, a 31 year-old pro from Bridgnorth, England is currently one of the top European ladies on the circuit and finished fifth, hardly surprising considering she cashed impressively at the WSOP Main Event and Aussie Millions. Out 7th but also showing good consistency recently is Lithuanian Kondratas Aruydas, who is a pupil of Tony G and recently took part in the Asian Poker Tour in Singapore.

A PartyPoker.net spokesman said. "Western Europe may have won the skirmishes earlier in the week but it was the Eastern European players who set the standard to follow. A lot of these players are relatively unknown and older but they showed their skill and experience in abundance to dominate proceedings. There were big name casualties in the first couple of days. Devilfish, Tony G, Roland De Wolfe and Michael Keiner all busted out before the action got hot. Three online qualifiers made the final table."

"What was really surprising, however, was that there wasn't an Austrian on the final table. Historically, home based players have fared well in this tournament. Instead, we have seen the force of the Eastern European challenge."