Josef Gulas, Jr. Wins 2021 World Series of Poker Europe Main Event

  • Gulas, Jr. turned a €250 local satellite entry into a €1.3m Main Event win
  • The champ’s father is also a poker player, with over €700,000 in tournament earnings
  • He entered the final day as the chip leader, but faced more than a 2.5-to-1 deficit heads-up
  • A COVID-19 state of emergency in the Czech Republic forced WSOP Europe schedule changes
crown on a rock in the woods
Josef Gulas, Jr. won the 2021 World Series of Poker Europe Main Event, overcoming a large chip deficit heads-up to win €1.3m. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Plenty of money for a house

A new champion has been crowned. In the wee hours of Thursday morning, Josef Gulas, Jr. defeated Johan Guilbert heads-up to win the 2021 World Series of Poker Europe Main Event and the €1,276,712 ($1,440,808) first prize.

Beyond the money and the glory of winning the WSOP Europe Main Event, it was a wonderful, personal moment for Gulas, Jr., as he had home field advantage of sorts. The Series was hosted, as it has been for several years, by King’s Resort in Rozvadov, Czech Republic. As it turns out, Gulas, Jr. was the lone Czech player at the final table, so he had plenty of friends and family in attendance. It was doubly special because his father, Josef Gulas, is also a poker player and has over €700,000 ($789,971) in live tournament earnings.

Gulas, Jr. won his entry into the Main Event via a €250 ($282) local King’s tournament. He finished third in that satellite, receiving €37,000 ($41,756) plus his Main Event ticket. In his post-match interview, he said he would have paid the full freight to enter the Main Event, so getting in at a 97.5% discount was a nice bonus.

he plans to build himself a house

The champ said he plans to build himself a house with his winnings and then use the rest to “to make more and more money.”

Overcame massive heads-up deficit

Gulas, Jr. entered the final day as the chip leader of the seven remaining players, though a couple players were within striking distance. When the tournament was down to four-handed play, he found himself in trouble when he doubled-up Guilbert to send his stack tumbling from around 21 million chips to under 8 million. In the meantime, Guilbert grabbed the chip lead with over 25 million.

It got worse. Guilbert lost the lead for a short time, but quickly got it back and ran his stack up to more than 42 million three-handed and then went into heads-up play with a 50.3 million to 18.5 million lead over Gulas, Jr.

But then, save for one short stint, Gulas, Jr. took over. He chipped up slightly then doubled through Guilbert to recapture the lead. He peaked at over 49 million chips before Guilbert regain the lead briefly at 37.4 million to 31.7 million.

It didn’t take long for Gulas, Jr. to flip the table once again and then that was it. He ran away with it. On the final hand, Gulas, Jr. moved all-in pre-flop and Guilbert made the call for the rest of his 7.2 million chips. When the hands were flipped over, it was essentially a race: Gulas, Jr. had A-8♠ and Guilbert had 2♣-2. Neither player got any help through the turn, but the magical 8 landed on the river, giving Gulas, Jr. the hand, the pot, and the bracelet.

It’s incredible, amazing, can’t describe, everyone should go through it to understand.”

Talking afterward about the suspense when waiting for the river card and then the excitement upon its reveal, Gulas, Jr. said: “It’s incredible, amazing, can’t describe, everyone should go through it to understand. Huge amounts of adrenaline.”

All’s well that ends well

Early on in the 2021 World Series of Poker Europe, there was some question as to how the Main Event would even go. COVID-19, led by the Delta variant, has been tearing through the Czech Republic, with new cases, hospitalizations, and deaths reaching unheard of levels for the country in the last few weeks. As such, the government declared a 30-day national state of emergency on November 30.

Among the health and safety measures put in place that directly affected the Series were a curfew of 10pm on venues like bars, restaurants, casinos, and a 1,000-person attendance cap on cultural and sporting events.

As such, WSOP Europe organizers had to scramble to make adjustments. The first two of six starting flights of the Colossus event were canceled to help accommodate other tournaments. Additionally, flights had to be limited to 1,000 players and start times were pushed earlier. In the end, things worked out. In fact, the 688 entrants and €6,536,000 ($7,376,072) prize pool were records for the WSOP Europe Main Event.