EPT11 Barcelona: Biggest ever Estrellas Main Event reaches climax

Ever since the PokerStars regional tours were tacked on to their EPT counterparts to kick-start the festival, two things have happened. Firstly, numbers have gone through the roof. Secondly, they've become a fertile breeding ground for players looking for a breakout result to step up to the next level - namely the EPT.

The former has been well and truly proved this week in Barcelona as, over three starting days, 2,560 players rocked up to not only create the largest ever Estrellas Main Event field but also, as we reported, the biggest freezeout tournament ever held by PokerStars. That's some increase on not only the 261 players who took part in the first ever Estrellas event in Malaga in April 2010, but also on the 1,798 who played this event a year ago.


Barcelona - bursting at the seams

The lion's share of this season's €2,560,000 prize pool is yet to be divvied up as the final nine play to a winner today from 1pm CET under the bright lights of EPTLive . Some, like Andrew Chen, have been there before but for most this is their first shot at life changing money, €393,354 to be precise. Their hope is to follow in the footsteps of Adrian Mateos Diaz and Ludovic Geilich and use an Estrellas Main Event title as a springboard to greater success on a bigger stage.


Levi leads the way

Leading the way among the likely lads is Nir Levy. The 26-year-old from Israel has multiple cashes on another of PokerStars' regional tours, the Eureka, and wherever he finishes today he'll at least sextuple his lifetime tournament earnings of $6,225. With a chip leading stack of more than 10,000,000 he'll be hoping for much more than that.

Another player hoping for his breakout result will be Simon Hemsworth. The professional player, who is based in London, is a cash game player by trade. The 30-year-old comes to the final table with an average stack and having already scored his largest ever live cash his performance this week has been anything but and he's clearly looking towards the top of the payouts.

Throw in the aforementioned Andrew Chen, runner-up at EPT Berlin in Season 8, Vladislav Donchev (runner-up UKIPT3 Edinburgh), Bela Toth (side event winner at the PCA) and Corinne Bauchet - who could become the first ever female winner of an Estrellas Main Event - and you've got all the ingredients of a great final table. You can watch it blow for blow live on EPTLive or if work/family/life won't allow for that, we'll be wrapping it up when a champion emerges.

Chen spoke to Sarah Grant, of PokerStars.tv, ahead of the final table:

Nick Wright
@PokerStars in European Poker Tour