The PokerStars.net European Poker Tour made its fourth stop on the current series tour in Warsaw, Poland, on November 15th. While turnout at previous stops has been far beyond what casino capacity usually allows, the EPT Polish Open experienced a bit of a downturn in attendance. Even so, the big names who showed up to play made up for the decreased numbers overall, and the final table turned out to be an exciting one with several recognizable pros competing for an EPT title.
Day 1A began with only 99 players at the Casino Poland Warsawza, but that small field included names like EPT hostess Kara Scott, EPT Budapest champion Will Fry, EPT Prague champion Arnaud Mattern, Alan Smurfit, Gavin Griffin, John Duthie, Johnny Lodden, Ludovic Lacay, and Polish music star Michal Wisniewski. Scott was one of the first to go, when her pocket aces were cracked by Mattern’s deuces that turned into a set on the river. Fry also found his way to the rail as one of the casualties of the first of two starting days.
When the chips were counted at the end of the day, Antony Lellouche was at the top of the leaderboard with 57,600 in chips, followed by Ludovic Lacay and his 49,600 stack. Johnny Lodden sat in third position with 41,450, and Marco Fantini and Sergey Shcherbatskiy rounded out the top five.
A slightly increased field came out for Day 1B with many more popular pros in the fray. Some of the names who bought in for some EPT action were Katja Thater, Dario Minieri, Isabelle Mercier, Alex Kravchenko, Bertrand Grospellier, Marcin Horecki, EPT London champion Michael Martin, EPT Barcelona champion Sebastian Ruthenberg, and Roland de Wolfe. Horecki was one of the casualties of the day, let go by Ruthenberg, but many of the big names survived.
The end-of-day chip counts contained a star-studded list of names, beginning with de Wolfe in top position with 67,150, making him the overall leader going into the second day of play. Second on the leaderboard was Alain Roy, followed by Christoffer Egmo, then Dario Minieri and Andreas Krause. Ruthenberg and Grospellier also found their way into the top ten.
Day 2 began with 109 returning players who joined together for the first time since the tournament began. To say that play was fast would have been an understatement, as nearly half the field was eliminated within the first two levels of the day. But with only 24 players getting paid, everyone seemed to be anxious to get to that point by the end of play. Lodden was one who wouldn’t make it to the money, along with Kravchenko, Smurfit, Lellouche, and Ruthenberg. But on the other hand, it was Minieri and Mattern who shone, and de Wolfe kept up his aggressive pace to stay in contention for the final table.
The day was cut short when the money was reached at 24 players, thanks to the bubble player who busted in 25th place. It was Hans Eskilsson, who pushed preflop with and found himself up against Mattern and his pocket kings. The board blanked with the exception of two fives to give Mattern two pair and the pleasure of sending Eskilsson out of the tournament with no money. In the end, it was Sergey Shcherbatskiy holding steady as the chip leader with 265,900, followed by Dario Minieri and Roland de Wolfe. Arnaud Mattern sat in fourth place and Uffe Holm took fifth.
Day 3 brought those 24 survivors back into action, and Josh Gould was the first to be eliminated in the money. Another short day was in store, as players didn’t hesitate to move their chips around and take some chances. Isabelle Mercier left in 16th place, and Roland de Wolfe was not far behind in 13th place.
Finally, Uffe Holm left the tournament in tenth place to make way for the establishment of the final table. Holm called all-in with in the big blind after an all-in move from Andrea Benelli with . The board gave nothing to either player, leaving ace high as the best hand and sending Holm away with €21,114.
With that and some extra celebration time on their hands, the final nine were set for the following day as follows:
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
Some of the bigger stacks and fan favorites sat with the largest chip stacks upon taking their final table seats, but each of them learned quickly that there was nothing to be taken for granted. Right off the bat, Barbosa doubled through Minieri, and Benelli doubled through Shcherbatskiy. And Mattern took some hits in the first few hands to get knocked back as well.
The shortest stack of all, however, wasn’t able to find such double-up luck. Muheim pushed all-in and was called quickly by Shcherbatskiy and his pocket aces. Muheim had to show and hope for help from the cards to come. The flop was somewhat promising with , but a came on the turn, followed by a on the river. Michael Muheim left the tournament quickly in ninth place with €21,114 in prize money.
Not long after, it was the Frenchman Lacay who was at risk, though it was easy-going into the flop. After hit the board, Lacay bet out, but Behling raised. Lacay pushed all-in with , and Behling happily turned over . The turn and river came and in succession, and Behling suddenly took the chip lead, as Ludovic Lacay was eliminated in eighth place, which was worth €32,843.
Andrea Benelli was short-stacked and felt the need to move preflop for his last 111K with pocket jacks. But it was fellow Italian Minieri who called with . The board came out , and Minieri had turned his flush. Andrea Benelli was forced out in seventh place with a €45,746 consolation prize.
Barbosa hadn’t seen much action but finally doubled through Minieri to gain a little ground for a 370K chip stack, but Minieri was relegated to under 200K in chips. Minieri then came back to double through Behling to stay alive and back up over the 500K mark.
Meanwhile, Shcherbatskiy lost a good deal of chips when Mattern doubled through him. With only 90K left, he pushed all-in preflop from the small blind with . It was Barbosa who called with pocket queens, and Shcherbatskiy was going to need that ace. Instead, the dealer gave them , leaving Barbosa with the straight and Sergey Shcherbatskiy with a ticket to the cashier cage, where his sixth place finish would be worth €57,476.
Mattern couldn’t maintain any momentum at that point in the tournament, and when he attempted to do so with Gueorgiev, the latter doubled through Mattern. Finally, Mattern and Barbosa got into a raising war preflop that ended in Mattern all-in with pocket tens versus the pocket eights of Barbosa. It looked okay for Mattern when the flop came , but an on the turn gave Barbosa the upper hand. The on the river solidified it, and Arnaud Mattern settled for fifth place and €72,724.
Gueorguiev was the next to be at risk. After seeing a flop of , he checked, but Barbosa bet, prompting an all-in raise from Gueorguiev and call from Barbosa. Gueorguiev showed for top pair, and Barbosa had for top pair with a lower kicker. The turn was a , but the on the river gave two pair to Barbosa and a fourth place elimination to Atanas Gueorguiev, along with €87,973 in prize money.
Three-handed play began with Barbosa holding a monstrous chip lead over his opponents with 1.5 million. Minieri had only 325K, and Behling was down to 300K. Behling helped himself to some of Barbosa’s chips in a double-up, but Barbosa still sat with over a million.
Minieri attempted the same by moving all-in from the small blind when his stack had been reduced to 180K. Barbosa called with pocket nines, and Minieri unhappily showed pocket sevens. The board came , and Dario Minieri was eliminated in third place with a €123,162 cash prize.
Heads-up play began with the following chip counts:
Joao Barbosa 1,330,000
Nico Behling 840,000
Behling did an admirable job of holding on for some time, and both players were approaching the action in a cautious manner. Behling clearly struggled and finally sat with only 376K. He did manage a double-up to get back to 740K, but it wouldn’t be enough.
The final hand began with a 60K raise from Behling and a reraise from Barbosa to 200K. Behling pushed all-in with , and Barbosa called with a dominating . The board helped the chip leader with , and Nico Behling was finished in second place. He was awarded a €205,270 prize for his efforts.
Joao Barbosa took first place and the title of EPT Warsaw champion. Not only did he receive €367,141 for the feat, but he did it on his 26th birthday. The Portuguese player became the first from his country to capture an EPT title, and he took down his own first major tournament win in the process.
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(Thanks to PokerNews and PokerStars for detailed hand and chip count information from live updates.)