EPT9 Barcelona: Laurent Polito upsets the form-book to reign in Spain
Surprise winners are part and parcel of major poker tournaments, but they tend to be rarer in High Roller events. If a seasoned commentator had looked at the line-up for the final 12 of the €10,000 High Roller event in Barcelona today - a field including Andrew Lichtenberger, Jonathan Duhamel, ElkY, Tobias Reinkemeier and Alex Bilokur - it would have taken a brave bettor to ignore them and predict a win for Laurent Polito instead.
But Polito defied form and delighted a few lucky pin-stickers, closing out to take the title after a double-quick final day. The High Rollers started with more players today than the main event final, which played out simultaneously, but they were still done before dinner time. The main eventers were still pushing chips around between their final three.
If the truth be told, and really it must, Polito took the title and the exclusive Shamballa Jewels bracelet, awarded only to the champion. But when he was heads up with Bilokur and they were all but even in chips, they agreed on a deal that actually gave Bilokur the marginally larger cheque.
Bilokur, who earned $1.1 million for winning the $25,000 High Roller tournament at the PCA last season, added another €295,451 to his coffers. Polito, whose biggest win before today was €64,000, took €270,229.
Polito, though, is clearly no slouch. His string of results are almost all in the five figures even from smaller buy-in tournaments, suggesting he is the kind of player who goes deep consistently. He set about his poker silently but efficiently today, and now he has the reward.
The full payouts from today's action are as follows:
1. Laurent Polito, France - €270,229
2. Alex Bilokur, Russia - €295,451
3. Tobias Reinkemeier, Germany - €119,660
4. Stanislav Labutkin, Russian Federation - €95,180
5. Carlos Mora Alvarez, Mexico - €73,430
6. Jean-Noel Thorel, France - €54,390
7. Bertrand Grospellier, France - €43,510
8. Joao Vieira, Portugal - €32,630
9. Kristijonas Andrulis, Lithuania - €27,190
10. Jonathan Duhamel, Canada - €27,190
11. Andrew Lichtenberger, United States - €24,470
12. Gurgen Melkonyan, Russian Federation - €24,470
(There were 101 entries and ten reloads on Day 1.)
You can see from the list above that many of the biggest names decided to go for broke early - an attempt to build a stack to make a charge at the title. But going for broke can often take you precisely there, and that meant LuckyChewy (Lichtenberger), Duhamel (the former world champion) and ElkY (ElkY) never really got close to threatening to take it down.
Tobias Reinkemeier, a High Roller champion from Monte Carlo in season six, seemed set for a showdown with the other High Roller specialist, Bilokur. But Polito found jacks to beat Reinkemeier's ace-nine and that was that.
Polito continued to get the maximum out of his big hands when the field was reduced to two. And when he found queens against Bilokur's nines, the High Rollers were off for an early night, job done.
The main event continues, so you too should continue to follow that. And then join us and the High Rollers in Sanremo in a few weeks when we will do it all again.