Barbosa Becomes First Portuguese EPT Champ in Warsaw

0 0 votes

By Jennifer Newell

The fifth season of the European Poker Tour has been a wild success thus far, and when it made its most recent stop in Warsaw, Poland, expectations were high. And though the final turnout was only 217 players, quite a decrease from the previous three stops that found casinos filled beyond capacity, it was a successful tournament with many notable players and a winner for the record books.

Play began on November 15th with the first of two starting days. Only 99 players registered for Day 1A, but that number included several past EPT champions - Will Fry and Arnaud Mattern - and EPT hostess Kara Scott, along with others like Alan Smurfit, John Duthie, Johnny Lodden, Ludovic Lacay, and Gavin Griffin. The day finished with Antony Lellouche holding on to the chip lead and Lacay in a solid second. Rounding out the top five were Lodden, Marco Fantini, and Sergey Shcherbatskiy.

The second starting day had slightly more participants and, without a doubt, more well-known pros, like Isabelle Mercier, Dario Minieri, Katja Thater, Alex Kravchenko, Bertrand Grospellier, Marcin Horecki, and Roland de Wolfe. Also in the mix were former EPT winners Michael Martin and Sebastian Ruthenberg. It was de Wolfe and his 67,150 chips in the top spot on the leaderboard when play wrapped for the day, followed by Alain Roy in second, then Christoffer Egmo, Minieri, and Andreas Krause.

A total of 109 players united to play Day 2 of the tournament, which would be completed in almost record time. Almost half the field was sent packing within the first two levels of the day, and some of those exiting before the money included Smurfit, Lellouche, Kravchenko, and Ruthenberg. And in a very short amount of time, it was the elimination of Hans Eskilsson in 25th place who made way for the rest of the players to leave for the night, knowing they made the money and would play to the final table the next day. Eskilsson was busted holding A-9 by the pocket kings of Mattern, and Eskilsson took the honor of leaving on the money bubble.

Day 3 began with Shcherbatskiy in the chip lead, trailed by notables Minieri, de Wolfe, and Mattern. Once again, action was fast with the final table in sight. As the field thinned, with the help of Mercier leaving in 16th place and de Wolfe crashing and busting in 13th place, it was down to the final ten players.

Ultimately, Uffe Holm, who came into the day fifth in chips, was short and faced with an all-in move from Andrea Benelli. Holm called with 10-7, and Benelli showed A-9. With nothing but blanks dealt to them, the ace high won, and Holm was the final table bubble player, ousted in tenth place with a €21,114 prize.

The final table was set to resume the following day with chip counts and seating assignments as listed:

Seat 1: Arnaud Mattern                238,000

Seat 2: Ludovic Lacay                   296,500

Seat 3: Andrea Benelli                 100,000

Seat 4: Michael Muheim               89,000

Seat 5: Joao Barbosa                  123,000

Seat 6: Dario Minieri                    359,500

Seat 7: Nico Behling                     343,500

Seat 8: Sergey Shcherbatskiy       349,000

Seat 9: Atanas Gueorguiev           186,500

Short-stacked players were ready to move as they took their seats, and Barbosa was the first to double up, taking advantage of Minieri’s willingness to get involved early. Benelli also doubled through Shcherbatskiy. Muheim attempted the same, but his ad 9c came up against the pocket aces of Shcherbatskiy. The board gave them qs ts 9d js 3c, and it was over quickly for Michael Muheim in ninth place, which was worth €21,114.

Lacay was the next to fall. After having taken some hits to his rather sizable starting stack, he put his remaining chips into the pot after seeing the 8h 7s 5d flop. Lacay seemed comfortable with his pocket aces until he saw the pocket eights of Behling who called the all-in. The turn was the 4c and river 5s, leaving Behling with a full house as the winning hand and Ludovic Lacay as the eighth place finisher and a €32,843 prize.

Next up was Benelli, who pushed all-in preflop with a decent hand containing pocket jacks. Minieri called with ah qh, and it was off to the races until the hearts fell. The board came 8c 5h 4h 3h 8s, and Andrea Benelli’s hopes for a win were flushed out. He took seventh place in the tournament and the €45,746 that went with it.

Shcherbatskiy had carried a great deal of momentum through the tournament thus far, starting with his Day 1A finish in the top five, but he couldn’t seem to keep it going at the final table. Mattern took the opportunity to double through Shcherbatskiy and left the latter crippled with only 90,000. He pushed that preflop with ad 5h, and Barbosa called with pocket queens. The board ran out js tc 7h kc 9s, and Sergey Shcherbatskiy was ousted in sixth place and a €57,476 consolation prize.

Virtually the same fate then befell Mattern, as Gueorgiev doubled through him. Mattern then got involved with Barbosa, and after a preflop raising war, Mattern was all-in with pocket tens, and Barbosa had him covered in chips with pocket eights. The flop was harmless for Mattern with 3c jh 6c, but the 8s on the turn almost sealed the deal for Barbosa. The ah on the river sent Arnaud Mattern packing in fifth place with €72,724.

Speaking of Gueorguiev, who was still fairly short-stacked, he made the mistake of getting into a hand with Barbosa. After a kd 4s 3c flop, Gueorguiev was all-in with ac kc, and Barbosa called with ks qs. The turn was a 9h, but the qh on the river gave Barbosa the out he needed for two pair and the win. Atanas Gueorguiev was sent to the rail in fourth place with €87,973.

Barbosa was dominating the table with 1.5 million in chips and only two opponents left in front of him. Minieri had been relegated to a 325,000 stack, and Behling trailed with 300,000. Behling subsequently doubled through the chip leader, but Minieri wasn’t so lucky. Having chipped away to only 180,000, he pushed it preflop with pocket sevens, but Barbosa called with pocket nines. The board bricked with qc 3s 3h 8d 4d, and Dario Minieri was gone in third place. He took €123,162 with him.

Two players remained, and their chip counts were as follows:

Joao Barbosa     1,330,000

Nico Behling           840,000

Heads-up play didn’t go as quickly as some predicted, as Behling held on for some time, even doubling up at one point. But eventually, he attempted another double with a preflop all-in move holding js 7s. Barbosa called with ah th, and they saw the dealer give them as 7c 3h 6h 6d. That was all the reporters wrote, and Nico Behling was eliminated in second place with a €205,270 for his staying power.

It was Joao Barbosa who claimed the top spot at the EPT Warsaw and €367,131 for his victory. In addition, he became the first Portuguese player in five seasons to win an EPT title, and he did it on his 26th birthday, making it just that much sweeter. Congratulations to Joao Barbosa, the EPT Polish Open champion!

(Thanks to PokerNews and PokerStars for detailed hand and chip count information from live updates.)