Recently in Barcelona Category

September 14, 2008 7:30 PM

EPT Barcelona: Ship it to the shooting star Ruthenberg

Sebastian Ruthenberg is the newest champion on the European Poker Tour after a thrilling finale to the season opener in the Gran Casino, Barcelona. The self-styled “luck box” proved to be anything but, starting second in chips this afternoon and navigating a steady and skilful course through a day where the blinds threatened to swallow even the largest stacks.

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PokerStars Shooting Star, World Series bracelet winner, and now EPT Barcelona champion, Sebastian Ruthenberg

Ruthenberg was at times the dominant bully; at others he was under threat himself. But showing consummate versatility he made the most from each situation to claim the winner's cheque of €1,361,000, plus a seat into the EPT Grand Final in Monte Carlo.

The PokerStars Shooting Star basked in what has been some electric form this year. This title follows his great form displayed at the World Series in July where he overcame Chris Ferguson heads-up to win the seven card stud hi/lo bracelet in Las Vegas. Flash forward two months, and his performance today displayed ample evidence of how it takes far more than just cards, with some great reads on his heads-up opponent and PokerStars qualifier Fintan Gavin to amass the huge stack with which he delivered that last crushing blow.

It all started at 4pm on day five of this tournament. Already the blinds were beginning to bite thanks in part to more than three hours of tense play late last night when nine-handed. The blinds would always be a factor but meant players had to adapt or fail. An hour and a half passed before the first elimination. The unlucky player was Denmark’s Martin Nielsen, whose late charge yesterday earned him the chip lead coming into today. But he fell victim to the tournament’s history-seeking PokerStars player Jason Mercier, who was aiming to become the first ever EPT double champion.

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Martin Nielsen: from chip leader to first out

Five minutes later the Canadian Samuel Chartier met with the same fate, this time busted by the amiable PokerStars qualifier from Ireland, named Gavin. He accounted for Chartier and then turned the knife into Mercier, ending that particular chapter in EPT history.

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Jason Mercier started with the chance to be the first double EPT winner

Mercier had doubled through Gavin, but ultimately the Irishman took his revenge a full two hours later, ending Mercier’s chances in sixth place for €227,000, sevens against Gavin’s pocket tens. An eye-opening performance regardless from the Floridian, who continues to light up the EPT.

It wasn’t until after the dinner break that play would be reduced to four players and it was the German PokerStars qualifier Dren Ukella out next for 290,000, another casualty of Gavin’s ferocious campaign. Gavin's pair held up against Ukella’s busted nut flush draw.

In fifth spot was the Italian Daniele Mazzia. His €351,000 was probably the hardest earned of all, and only came after he had dodged countless bullets and had a good case to have the river card renamed after him, surviving three all-ins on fifth street. Alas it was a crippling hand before his eventual exit that cost him dearly. A pot of more than two million against the Belgian Davidi Kitai’s pocket tens to his own pocket nines. He’d been there before, but the miracle could be repeated yet again. Then, with just 101,000 left, it was a matter of the sharks circling to finish him off.

Kitai went next. The Belgian’s day was not unlike the Italian’s, one that seemed full of rigorous defence and agonising decision-making, watching his fortunes rise and fall in rapid swoops.

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Davidi Kittai, feeling the strain of four long days

It came in the kind of massive hand that can only really take place after five full days of play, starting when the then-chip-leading Ruthenberg moved all-in pre-flop. Kitai called for his tournament life but not until a good deal of anguish. Gavin folded, showing his A-Q, which was like a knife in the heart for the Belgian who turned over the same hand. Ruthenberg showed pocket fours.

With two of his outs gone, Kitai found small mercy in an inside flush draw on the flop but it was not to be and Kittai, who himself was extending his World Series bracelet success form from this year, busted in third place, earning €455,000.

By now the tournament had taken a distinctly lop-sided appearance with Ruthenberg sitting with nearly five times the stack of Gavin.

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The PokerStars qualifier Fintan Gavin, in raising mood

Few people were therefore surprised when it all ended just a few minutes later. With all the chips in the middle, Ruthenberg holding Kc-9c to Gavin’s 7c-4h, the flop looks set to extend the night a little longer, 2h-Ac-7h for middle pair and a backdoor flush draw. The turn changed all that, though, bringing a Kh to match Ruthenberg’s for top pair. Fintan's flush never got there, instead sending a first EPT crown Ruthenberg’s way.

Fintan Gavin was gracious in defeat, collecting €792,000 for a hard day at the table. But the new champion collects €1,361,000 and a ticket to the Monte Carlo Grand Final next spring.

“My plan was to play tight to begin and then loosen up” said Ruthenberg, before quipping, “It’s more money than the World Series and money means a lot to me, not the title. So I’m more happy.”

Ruthenberg had overcome violent swings a period of being card dead but brought his natural ability to the table securing him an EPT title after coming close twice before. “I know I’m just running good” he said. “Nothing more.”

Congratulations to Ruthenberg, one of the PokerStars family on the German side. On now to the EPT London and the high-roller event.

A full list of all 64 prize-winners can be found HERE.

Take a look back on the final day of action, no matter what language you speak. Click HERE for Spanish, click HERE for German, click HERE for Italian and click HERE for Swedish.

And all of these links tell the story:

Final table profiles
Record breakers?
Level 25 updates
Level 26 updates
Level 27 updates
Level 28 updates
Level 29 updates
Level 30 updates

Our video blog team set the scene for the day:

Watch EPT Barcelona 2008 Final Day intro on

And caught up with the Team PokerStars Pro Luca Pagano as the action progressed:

Watch EPT Barcelona 2008 Final Day Luca Pagano on

Watch videos from the whole of EPT Barcelona, plus an archive of all other PokerStars events, all for free, at

The next EPT event takes place in London from October 1-5. Full details of qualifying, hotel information, EPT structure, etc., is all available on the official EPT website.

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September 10, 2008 4:01 PM

EPT Barcelona: Post dinner action

The field is united after the buffet. It’s now a three and a half hour scrap towards the end of play and already the signs of struggle are beginning to show.

Two particular hands cost Greg Raymer his gallant start, sent to the rail by virtue of the wrong ends of two coin flips. Whilst fellow Team PokerStars Pro Noah Boeken, who had survived the tempest that comes with a short stack, finally succumbed in a crushing three-way hand that pitted his pocket nines against pocket kings and pocket queens. No nine came and Boeken busted.

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Noah Boeken eliminated

“Sick” he said, walking away.

Alexandre Gomes, one of the newest members of Team PokerStars Pro, was short stacked before the break. Returning to scan the room it seems Alex's day has been drawn to a close.

Fairing slightly better is Dustin Mele, the PokerStars passport winner, who is midway through a ten-tournament prize package that takes him around the world. He was shunted down to 3,000 earlier by virtue of being beaten twice despite holding kings both times. He started a rally with pocket queens, beating his opponents top pair to leave him with 13,000.

You can find an update on all the latest chip counts after the dinner break by clicking here.

September 10, 2008 2:42 PM

EPT Barcelona: The fightback begins here

Johannes Strassmann has put earlier set-backs aside and is now carving a path with his hands back to a stack around the 12K average mark.

The solution it seems was to bet all the way. Johannes played a series of hands whereby any opponent would have to be content to call or re-raise his bets. None did, dabbling slightly only to fold to his relentless pressure.

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PokerStars sponsored player Johannes Strassmann

First one player, then another, including Team PokerStars Pro Vanessa Rousso, sitting with more than 16,000 minus some of that headed to the German.

Back in the game, one of 292 players to have started today, and one of the 238 still in the tournament on day 1a.

September 10, 2008 2:03 PM

EPT Barcelona: All eyes on Obrestad

There were many players who impressed on their first full year on the European Poker Tour last year, players like EPT Best Newcomer award winner Trond Eidsvig who featured on three final tables.

But one player who blazed a particularly unique trail through season four was Annette Obrestad, the runner-up in Dublin (a final table that Eidsvig also reached) who, since winning the WSOP Europe, has specialised in a “see-it-to-believe-it” style of poker.

Wearing big black glasses, faux diamond headphones and the look of relentless determination on the part of her face still visible, Annette was up to more than 16,000 earlier today. Now though her stack is slightly less formidable but the fearsome look doesn’t waver until the break.

When she played a hand from under-the-gun you could feel the space around the table get smaller. A Jc-8c-3h flop with the blinds versus Obrestad as photographers snapped into action and video cameras rolled.

But this hand would not be the demonstration of poker panache they were hoping for and instead marked the end of another Obrestad tournament. Moving in with Tc-7c, a gutshot straight flush draw, Obrestad missed on both the turn and river, leaving her opponent’s Jh-5h good for top pair and the Obrestad chips.

She'll take her revenge in London.

September 10, 2008 12:49 PM

EPT Barcelona: The adventures of Team PokerStars

It’s been a good start for Team PokerStars Pros in the mix today. Andre Akkari, Alex Gomes and Greg Raymer are tearing along nicely, so too Vanessa Rousso. And the other half of poker’s first couple, Chad Brown, is gaining some momentum also.

Brown limped into an un-raised pot from the button, having watched three others do the same before him. The flop came 2s-Jd-Ts. A check from the early position player before seat one made it 625. Big Patrick Bueno in the cut-off got out of the hand before taking any further damage but not Brown who called, quickly followed by the early limpers.

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Team PokerStars Pro Chad Brown

The turn card was the 4s and again the seat one player led the betting, 1,500 this time. Only the result may not have been what he had hoped for, as his PokerStars foe re-raised, 3,200 in total.

Suddenly the brakes were on and the hand would never see fifth street. No call from early position player and the original raiser had no choice but to do the same, looking again before bidding this hand goodbye.
Another sizable pot for Brown who vaults up to more than 24,000 in level three.

Elsewhere, Ramsi Jelassi doubled up, betting all streets with his flopped set and was called all the way, up now to more than 24,000.

It wasn’t quite as happy for PokerStars sponsored player Johannes Strassmann who flopped two pair, tens and eights on an A-T-8 board only to be beaten by his opponent’s aces and tens, Johannes showing remarkable restraint after the suggestion of a slow roll by his opponent.

September 10, 2008 10:47 AM

EPT Barcelona: Tables of discomfort

In the early stages of a tournament, there's always a quest to determine the so-called Table of Death, stacked with a disproportionate number of stars. Problem is, there are so many supremely talented players on the EPT these days that it's often more difficult these days to find a Table of Life, or at least a Table of Moderate Comfort. There really is nowhere to hide.

In Barcelona today, for instance, the random table draw has created the following match-ups:

Mark Teltscher v David Ulliot v Erik Frieberg
Thomas Fougeron v Hans Eskilsson v Victoria Coren v Daniel Mangas
Vanessa Rousso v Noah Boeken
Annette Obrestad v Halldor Sverisson
Bo Sehlstedt v David "Chino" Rheem
Greg Raymer v Danny Ryan

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Million dollar man David "Chino" Rheem

The EPT and Chino Rheem haven't crossed paths before, but the World Series final table player, Million Dollar Man, November Nine-ster, PokerStars Sixer, is already making his presence known. Moments ago, he was looking for a rule clarification when another player took a phone call in the middle of a heads-up pot. "I don't mind at all, and your hand is live," Chino said. "But are you allowed be on the phone?" No, apparently, confirmed the dealer, but Chino made it easy for his opponent, by sticking in a decent bet on the turn that forced to fold and allowed him to talk on.

September 10, 2008 10:09 AM

EPT Barcelona: The view from the rail

There’s a swarm of people gathering in the corner of the Casino Barcelona waiting to play right now. Not tournament players, just those waiting to play cash, struck by that sometimes tortuous affliction of having to wait to play on day 1b.

But whilst they jostle for position in line, shunning a day at the beach just fifty paces from the casino door, the tournament area is filling up at speed with more players finding their seats even after the official order to shuffle up and deal, filling in consent forms and quickly getting a feel for the baize.

It’s a new season, with new chips, new players and a fair number of old ones too.

One of those EPT veterans is Team PokerStars Pro Greg Raymer, who shares a table with the PokerStars Qualifier of the Year Danny Ryan. Raymer has wasted no time in stack building after just 15 minutes of poker and used an all-in move to persuade a quick-betting opponent to tone it down a little and fold his hand. He did, boosting Raymer to 14,000.

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Team PokerStars Pro Greg Raymer

And the new guys? Well one of those is David “Chino” Rheem, one of the million dollar men from the World Series this year, who at last sight was happily recounting those very hands to anyone who asked him. He makes his first EPT appearance today.

Blinds are still at 25/50 in this first 60 minute level.

September 10, 2008 9:46 AM

EPT Barcelona: In the crowd

There's a familiar melee in the lobby of the Gran Casino Barcelona, as the square pegs of 300-odd poker players attempt to funnel into the round hole that is the downtairs poker room. They first have to register as a member of the casino, then have their barcodes checked at a swanky new passport control area, before starting the whole queuing process again to hand over the money. They love it, as you can imagine.


Anyway, as that riot occurs outside, we've had a chance to scan the list of the early registrations and to pick out the notable players. There are two day ones -- today and tomorrow -- and first out of the blocks are the following:

Team PokerStars Pros
Alexandre Gomes
Andre Akkari
Katja Thater
Noah Boeken
Alex Kravchenko
William Thorsson
Vicky Coren
Greg Raymer

PokerStars Sponsored players
George Danzer
Johannes Steindl
Johannes Strassman
Pieter De Korver

PokerStars qualifiers
Christian Grundtvig
Denes Kalo
Halldor Sverrisson
Andreas Hagen
Steve Jelinek
Danny Ryan

PokerStars players

Glen Chorny
Martin Wendt
Joris Jaspers
Christian Harder
Jason Mercier
Isaac Haxton
Shaun Deeb

Other notables
Pascal Perrault
Barny Boatman
Sverre Sundbo
Annette Obrestad
Thomas Fougeron
Rolf Slotboom

These are just a few of them. More to follow.

Play has just started. The structure for the EPT can be found HERE - in short, it's 10,000 starting chips, one hour levels, starting at 25-50, with an ante coming into play in level six, some time tonight.

We'll be starting our chip count page shortly, with a prominent link at the top of the page. The counts will be approximate and updated hourly and will not be exhaustive. A full list will be published as an when it is made available by the tournament staff.

A reminder, you can read all about the EPT in Swedish, Spanish and German by clicking the language of your choice.

September 10, 2008 6:39 AM

EPT Barcelona: Surf, sand and awards for EPT birthday

This week, the European Poker Tour celebrates its fourth birthday. It came blinking and stumbling into the world in Barcelona in 2004, began with baby-steps that soon became a cocksure swagger, and yesterday there was a party in recognition of the start of its fifth year. People stood around the room gossiping as though maternal aunts and said: "My, hasn't he grown."

Watch EPT Barcelona 2008 Promo on

And he sure has. There were just 230 runners on that debut event, each paying €1,000 for a shot at an €80,000 prize-pool. Today is day 1A of the fifth renewal and there will be closer to 600 players paying €8,000 and the first prize will be something like €1.3 million. All this before most people have learned to ride a bike.

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Daniel Negreanu and Gloria Balding present the awards

Typically, the party was a star-studded affair. Poker superstars from across the globe gathered in the opulent Opium del Mar bar and nightclub where if you looked one way there were World Champions, and in the other direction there was the Mediterranean Sea. All that separated us from the surf was a neat strip of golden sand, and as the revellers revelled into the night, the beach people came out to comb it flat, working long past midnight to keep the beautiful just the way it should be.

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By that point, we had all be welcomed in characteristic EPT fashion to another wonderful event. This time, in addition to the fire eaters, jugglers, and generous food and drink, there was also the no-small matter of the inaugural, annual, EPT awards, recognising the achievements of some of the players from last season's record breaking tour. Team PokerStars Pro Daniel Negreanu took to the stage alongside Gloria Balding to present trophies to the best newcomer, best tournament performer, best online qualifier, best overseas player, a poker writers and people's award.

And then there was the player of the year trophy, picked up by Daniel's Team PokerStars Pro team-mate Luca Pagano. There could have been no more popular winner. (Full results are below.)

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Player of the Year award winner Luca Pagano

Once the awards were done, the party continued. The resident artist sketched caricatures of the party-goers, as some serious, sedate, polite people became caricatures of themselves, accepting the invitation to eat, drink and dance with a rare vim. Names have been withheld to protect the innocent.

But it becomes increasingly more serious from this afternoon onwards, once everyone has filed into the Gran Casino, Barcelona, to begin their quest for the title. We have all been here before and it feels like home from home. But nobody will be relaxing just yet: it's only just the start.

EPT season four awards:

Player of the Year: Luca Pagano
Best newcomer: Trond Eidsvig
Performance of the year: Julian Thew
Overseas player of the year: Mike McDonald
PokerStars qualifier of the year: Danny Ryan
Poker writers award: Julian Thew
Peoples choice award: Mike McDonald

Day 1A begins at 3pm central European time. Day 1B, for the remainder of the field, is tomorrow, with days two and three on Friday and Saturday, ahead of Sunday's final table. We will, as ever, have all the action here.

Video blogs and interviews from the 2009 PCA

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