“Baby Run Good” is Real; Derk van Luijk Wins 2024 EPT Monte Carlo Main Event (€1,000,000)

Home » “Baby Run Good” is Real; Derk van Luijk Wins 2024 EPT Monte Carlo Main Event (€1,000,000)
Derk van Luijk

There were times during the final table of the PokerStars European Poker Tour (EPT) Monte Carlo Main Event that it seemed like it was fate for Derk van Luijk to be the one to hoist the gold-plated trophy at the end.

The 43-year-old Dutchman was all in yesterday with ace-jack against aces but caught running jacks to make trips and earn a miracle double up. He was a card away from elimination today but spiked two pair to stay alive.

Van Luijk doubled up six different times throughout today’s play. And he ended up winning the most important all-in of all, the last one, as he defeated Boris Angelov at the end of an epic heads-up match to win the EPT title and the €1,000,000 top prize.

2024 EPT Monte Carlo Main Event Final Table Results

Place Name Country Prize
1 Derk van Luijk Netherlands €1,000,000
2 Boris Angelov Bulgaria €620,500
3 Rania Nasreddine United States €442,900
4 Jovan Kenjic Serbia €340,500
5 Jonathan Pastore France €261,700
6 Niclas Thumm Germany €201,000
7 Jonathan Guedes Brazil €154,900
8 Jozef Cibicek Slovakia €119,000

“That’s an amazing feeling. I cannot even realize still that I’ve won. It feels like I’m spacing right now. You don’t realize it yet, but it’s an amazing feeling,” Van Luijk said after conquering the largest field in EPT Monte Carlo history with 1,208 total entries.

Van Luijk, who works as an investor and describes himself only as a “semi-pro” poker player, has succeeded on the EPT before. He won a €2,100 side event at EPT Barcelona in 2022. Then came a deep run in the EPT Paris Main Event in February of this year before he finally bowed out in 28th place.

Nothing compares to this historic achievement, though. What made it even more special is that it came at an important time for him and his family.

“It feels like I’m spacing right now.”

Van Luijk is expecting his third child later this year. His partner, mother, and brother were all on the rail following along on the journey and sharing in this memorable moment for the entire family.

Derk van Luijk
Derk van Luijk and his rail

They now get to celebrate with the trophy and life-changing money. “It’s amazing. My brother flew in this morning when he realized I was in the final seven last night. He bought a ticket and came this morning,” Van Luijk said. “That’s obviously amazing. That’s an incredible feeling and an incredible amount.”

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“Baby Run Good” is a superstition common in poker, and Van Luijk needed every bit of it to win this tournament. Even after all the all-in moments, the lucky rivers, and the times he was desperately nursing a short stack, Van Luijk never let the thought of busting enter his mind. He was just trying to enjoy the once-in-a-lifetime moment he was experiencing.

“I was very relaxed during my play. I was trying to have a good time, so I was really enjoying my play. I wasn’t really worried about busting. I got down to 10 big blinds, and that’s enough to spin it back up. I wasn’t really worried or anything like that. I was more trying to enjoy the ride that I was in,” he said.

Derk van Luijk
Derk van Luijk with the trophy

Final Day Action

Van Luijk entered the day the second shortest stack among seven returning players. Angelov had a big chip lead with 11,500,000, followed by Rania Nasreddine with 7,900,000.

Jonathan Guedes, who won his seat in an online qualifier, was the first out after he flopped top set of jacks but Angelov hit the nut straight to bust the Brazilian online pro in seventh place. Then came a sight that would be all-too familiar at this final table: Van Luijk all in for his tournament life. He didn’t have to sweat this one too much, as he picked up two aces to double up for 2,400,000 off Jonathan Pastore.

Angelov tumbled down the leaderboard when he four-bet with king-queen, but Pastore had woken up with two kings and moved all in for 2,425,000 to double up.

Final table EPT Monaco 2024
Final table EPT Monte Carlo 2024

Nasreddine, the Tulsa lawyer who was only in Monte Carlo on the tail end of a girl’s trip to Europe, led at the first break with more than 11,000,000 as she sought to become the first woman to win an EPT title in a decade. But she lost a pot shortly after when Angelov made kings full to beat her fives full.

Niclas Thumm then flopped trip aces against Angelov’s pocket kings, but Angelov spiked his two-outer on the river to make a full house and send “Flushi” out in sixth place, the same position he finished at the PSPC final table last year.

Pastore was the next out as the French pro was all in for 1,300,000 with top pair. Angelov had a straight draw on the flop but hit a pair of queens on the river to bust Pastore in fifth.

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Van Luijk won a coin flip with two eights against Angelov’s king-nine to double again, then found himself involved in yet another all-in race situation. Jovan Kenjic was all in for 2,500,000 with ace-king while Van Luijk had him covered by just 50,000 with jacks. Van Luijk’s pair held on to virtually double up and knock out Kenjic in fourth.

Van Luijk rivered a set of nines as Angelov tried a big bluff on the river, pulling Van Luijk nearly even with his two opponents.

Van Luijk Survives on the River

Derk van Luijk and Boris Angelov
Derk van Luijk and Boris Angelov

Then came the hand that will go down in EPT lore and changed the fortunes of two players.

Van Luijk raised on the button and Nasreddine called in the big blind. Van Luijk flopped top pair of jacks with jack-ten and bet 1,500,000. Nasreddine flopped a pair of fours with five-four and improved to two pair on the turn. Van Luijk bet another 3,000,000, Nasreddine moved all in, and Van Luijk snap-called for 8,450,000.

The river was a ten and Van Luijk got up from his seat to shake Angelov’s hand, believing he had been eliminated. Nasreddine, though, had to point out that he had made a higher two pair.

“Oh my God, shit. I’m so sorry,” a humbled Van Luijk said as he unexpectedly took a massive chip lead.

Rania Nasreddine
A brutal river card ended Rania Nasreddine’s deep run.

Nasreddine was left with just 900,000 and was all in the next hand, losing to Van Luijk’s full house to finish in third place. Van Luijk led Angelov 24,500,000 to 11,750,000 at the start of heads-up play, but Angelov used aggression to take down most pots and overtake him for the chip lead.

Van Luijk won a big pot with a pair of kings as he headed into dinner break back on top with 23,475,000. He had a chance to end the tournament when Angelov moved all in on the river for 5,825,000, but Van Luijk folded a pair of sixes and Angelov showed ten-high for a bluff.

Angelov was then all in with ace-queen against Van Luijk’s two kings as Van Luijk already had one hand on the trophy. But it was quickly swatted away as Angelov flopped trip queens, then improved to quads on the turn to double up and retake the lead.

Boris Angelov
Boris Angelov finished second after a six-hour slugfest.

Van Luijk opened up a lead once again when he made two pair with queen-nine, but Angelov then won a massive pot with just queen-high to knock Van Luijk down to less than 10,000,000 as the pendulum continued to swing back and forth in what was quickly becoming one of the longest and most memorable heads-up duels in EPT history.

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Angelov then shoved the button and Van Luijk snap-called for 7,200,000 with queens, flopping top set to double up yet again. He then flopped two pair against Angelov’s top pair of queens as the lead changed hands once more. A series of small pots put Angelov back in front until Van Luijk hit two pair with five-four and beat Angelov’s pair of queens to double up.

Van Luijk was all in again for 11,000,000 with ace-three against Angelov’s king-eight and held on to double up into the chip lead. Finally, six hours after the heads-up match had begun, Van Luijk limped the button, then snap-called when Angelov shoved for 15,500,000. Angelov had king-seven, while Van Luijk was ahead with ace-queen.

The flop brought a queen to give Van Luijk top pair, and Angelov couldn’t catch up as he ended up finishing in second place for €620,500.

It was a bittersweet ending for the Bulgarian, who had Van Luijk down and seemingly out so many times during the match only for Van Luijk to climb back up. But that was the story of Van Luijk’s tournament, and it ended with him using every bit of that “Baby Run Good” to be the last man standing.

Van Luijk isn’t stopping here as he plans to become a regular fixture on the EPT. “I already play almost all the EPTs, so I’ll just keep doing what I’m doing,” he said. But whatever the future has in store for him, this past week in Monte Carlo will be tough to top.

Derk van Luijk
Derk van Luijk

That concludes PokerNews’ coverage of the 2024 EPT Monte Carlo. Keep following along with PokerNews for more coverage of tournaments worldwide, including the next EPT stop in Barcelona in August!

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