EPT Vilamoura: Toby Lewis crowned new Prince of Portugal
Expectations were high when we touched down in Vilamoura last Friday. The weatherman forecast glorious sun, the hotel promised brand new views and freshly grouted luxury, and the European Poker Tour promised a week of poker better than any Portugal had ever witnessed before. We got all three.
Tonight, as the sun sets over the Atlantic Ocean, Toby Lewis is the newest winner on the world's best poker tour, victorious tonight after a fiercely contested final table, and now €467,835 richer.
It came after eight hours of first-rate poker, at a table that featured former poker champions, former football stars and several of those enigmatic newcomers you predict will stick around and make names for themselves.
The likes of Jacobson, Trickett and Lee are among that bunch. Each arrived today intent on winning EPT silverware and all could have done so if things, tiny details, had gone their way. Instead, it's the 20-year-old from Southampton, who takes the glory, ahead of Martin Jacobson, his worthy adversary, having quietly obliterated the opposition.
Never one to say something when dead silence would do, Lewis showed confidence beyond his years to breeze through the day. He arrived with the narrowest of leads but finished with the lot. Heads-up Lewis began to excel, undaunted by his chip disadvantage, he soon wrestled control of the final, retaking the lead, and then regrouping when Jacobson brought things back to all square, ultimately securing the win.
"Martin lost a big pot to me in the middle of day two and it didn't faze him at all," said Lewis. "He's a really good player and he doesn't make big mistakes. I knew he'd be hard to beat and that I'd have to cold deck him like I did in the final hand."
Eight hours ago the first question on some people's minds, albeit British ones, was how would the English perform? Three Englanders had reached the final, the first time that had happened since EPT Dublin in season three. Some were cynical enough to predict failure for Albion. Not so the dozen Brits on the rail, intent on celebrating each Lewis, Trickett or Sheringham victory, with the ceremonial hoisting aloft of a fresh beer.
It wasn't just the British out in force for Sheringham. The former England and Manchester United star is known beyond British borders for his exploits on the football field. He made a career best fifth place finish today worth €93,120.
Sam Trickett became the poster boy for bad luck, his surname becoming synonymous with the phrase "running bad". Trickett was quick to engage in a campaign of attrition against his opponents while getting a day long massage.
First he spoiled any hope of a first double EPT winner by consistently beating short stacked Rob Hollink around the head with raises until the Dutchman could wait no longer and departed in seventh, behind eighth place local hero Sergio Coutinho and before Frederick Jensen in sixth.
Trickett then took it upon himself to take on anyone who dared shove, but while invariably ahead on the showdown he would be left with the worst of it on Fifth Street. It cost him greatly, and then some more, until his Vilamoura campaign ran out of pluck in fourth.
Closely behind him followed young American Jason Lee, cheered all the way by a slightly more modest rail of Annette Obrestad and Scott Montgomery. Lee defied his dislike for long haul flights to play only his second EPT. The decision to fly was a good one, worth €186,240 to the 25-year-old, who busted in third.
A final hat tip to Martin Jacobson (engage the roller coaster cliché now and press go). The Swede soared high yesterday before plunging into the depths, reaching the final table with just 441,000, a shadow of his former stack that had once dominated the tournament room horizon. Yet the Swede turned that disadvantage into a strength, coming back powerfully and almost making it the most memorable rally of all. A mighty performance that should not be forgotten amid English celebrations.
The final result:
1. Toby Lewis, United Kingdom, PokerStars player, €467,835
2. Martin Jacobson, Sweden, PokerStars qualifier, €297,984
3. Jason Lee, United States, PokerStars qualifier, €186,240
4. Sam Trickett, United Kingdom, €139,680
5. Teddy Sheringham, Friend of PokerStars, UK, €93,120
6. Frederick Jensen, PokerStars player, Denmark, €74,496
7. Rob Hollink, Holland, €55,872
8. Sergio Coutinho, Portugal, €37,248
It proved one of the best finals for some time on the EPT, a tenth British winner, continuing the tradition of at least one British winner in each EPT season. It's certainly worth looking back on at any of the links below:
That brings our EPT Vilamoura coverage to a close. Thanks for joining us on the Algarve this week and our congratulations go to winner Toby Lewis, currently being mugged, hugged and beered by his emotionally whooped up friends.
If you'd prefer this in another language, or you're an English speaker sick of the soon to be short-lived 10-win patriotism, you can find coverage of the day in five-wins-German, only four-wins-Dutch, two-win-Portuguese and one-win-Italian. Our thanks also to our photographer Neil Stoddart who battled legal restraint to take the pictures this week, and never once faltered in the face of some truly striking MS Paint work on our part.
That's all from us. Next stop London at the end of September where we'll swap sun and heat for damp and exhaust fumes. You won't want to miss it. See you there.
The beach, earlier. It's now dark