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Eight players gathered in Barcelona to compete at the final table of a magical EPT denouement in the Catalan capital. With the finalists representing six different countries from continents as far and wide as Europe, North America and South America, a truly global game played down to a winner in exciting style as other players such as Robin Ylitalo, Andre Akkari and Ezequiel Waigel fell just short.
The final table was eight-handed and began on the penultimate day as the sixth day of play came to a conclusion. There was a disastrous bluff from Swedish player Robin Ylitalo, who gambled the last of his stack when a board of A-7-2-3-5 landed. Moving all-in with king-queen offsuit, Ylitalo was never going to get a fold from the eventual champion Wiciak, who had turned the ‘wheel’ straight, holding five-four in his hand. Ylitalo, whose record in EPTs is an impressive one, cashed for $192,000 in eighth place.
The last player to bust before the final day was set turned out to be Curtis Knight, who got extremely unlucky to lose his tournament life. All-in with the superior pocket tens, he watched in horror as the British former WSOP bracelet winner Carl Shaw got there with jack-ten. A flop of A-J-9 set Knight behind and there were no moves left for him when a deuce on the turn was followed by an eight on the river. Knight cashed for $249,600 in seventh place, missing out on the final day.
With just six players remaining, Wiciak had a commanding lead. Shaw, who beat World Poker Tour legend and multiple bracelet winner Tony Dunst to the gold when he claimed his sole WSOP title in 2019 for $606,000, was close on his heels, however. That elimination of Knight had given the player from Telford in Shrewsbury the impetus to make a major push for glory. Behind Wiciak (22.8 million) and Shaw (17.4 million) was Santiago Plante (7.5 million), who was a long way behind comparatively.
As the final table began, six players had dreams of lifting the latest European Poker Trophy Main Event trophy and half the field were from South America. Two swift eliminations reduced that number considerably, with Argentina’s Ezequiel Waigel first to depart for a score of $324,480 in sixth place.
Waigel moved all-in with ace-seven offsuit pre-flop, but his short stack looked doomed as soon as the Brazilian player Joao Sydenstricker turned over ace-king. No drama came on the flop, turn or river to help Waigel and he was busted first after a very short time.
Sydenstricker had busted one of his fellow South Americans and soon took out his countryman and PokerStars Team Pro, Andre Akkari. On a flop of K-J-9 with two hearts, Akkari raised all-in with four-three of hearts. Chasing a flush, Akkari was behind Sydenstricker’s king-queen that represented top pair. Carl Shaw had also called with king-queen including the queen of hearts, blocking one of Akkari’s outs. Both players checked through the jack of clubs on the turn and jack of diamonds on the river, meaning Akkari cashed for $421,880 but missed out on the top four.
Just a short time later, the field was reduced to three. Canadian poker pro Santiago Plante shoved with the least chips holding pocket queens and was way ahead of his caller Shaw with an offsuit queen-nine. With just 13 big blinds to his name before the hand, Plante was uprooted from his seat when a board of J-T-T-K-J gave Shaw a turned straight, sending the Canadian home with $548,450.
Sadly for Plante, things were about to get even worse. There can be few feelings in poker worse than busting a major tournament, but busting just before all three of your remaining opponents lock up a bumper payday after doing a deal. That was exactly what happened, however, as Joao Sydenstricker, Simon Wiciak and Carl Shaw all guaranteed themselves almost or over a million dollars. Just $120,000 and the EPT were left to play for.
Busting in third place was Carl Shaw, who left when his king-queen was dominated and defeated by the eventual champion Wiciak’s ace-queen. A king coming out was cruel, and the ace that landed afterwards like a dagger in the ribs for Shaw in poker terms as he left with $966,540.
Then came the heads-up battle, with the stacks almost even. An early pot set Sydenstricker ahead, but Wiciak won one to edge into a marginal lead before the final defining moment of an entertaining final table that was brought to life by James Hartigan and Joe Stapleton for PokerStars.
On a board showing 9-5-2-4-9, Sydenstricker shoved all-in with queen-ten. The difficulty for Wiciak was that he only held five-six and faced a huge hero-call to take down the title. The Frenchman processed the information he had and eventually made a brilliant call to capture the biggest win of his poker career and first EPT Main Event.
Here’s that incredible final hand, with a hand breakdown on how he made that heroic call from the newest EPT champion, Simon Wiciak.
Jackpot! You’ve flopped a winning hand! This article has surely added some extra chips to your stack. Tune in for more valuable insights and pro-level strategies!
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