EPT12 Barcelona: The last supper before the final
There are nine players left at EPT Barcelona. Some are familiar; some we hope to learn a lot more about. Here's what we already know about most of them:
It has been a couple of years since John Juanda last made a deep run on the European Poker Tour, but having made it to 11th place at the Grand Final in Season 9, Juanda is back - and back to a final table. He previously made the last eight here at the beginning of the same season, and has also been a runner-up on the EPT, to David Vamplew in London in Season 7.
Juanda needed a fortunate double up yesterday in a pot against Matthias de Meulder -- Juanda hitting a three-outer after he shoved with Q♠4♠ -- but has made the most of his lucky break and now aims to join the ranks of the players with both a first and second on the EPT. The tour has never seen an Indonesian champion, and the 44-year-old Juanda is probably the one and only hope.
Steven Warburton, a 28-year-old from Altringham, in the United Kingdom, is having a breakout year. In May, he came second to Farid Yachou in the WPT event in Amsterdam, and followed up a month later with a second runner-up finish. Although that was a tournament with a buy-in of "only" £1,000, held at Dusk Till Dawn in Nottingham, the field was sensationally tough. Simon Hemsworth, Tom Middleton, Stuart Fox, Richard Trigg and Alex Goulder all made the final table.
Warburton is staying in a house with Matthias de Meulder, Scott Margereson and Eric Lescot, all of whom made the final 40. The house, however, was far from paradise, as we learned earlier.
Denys Shafikov is 36 years old and comes from Ukraine. Beyond that, not much is known. However, the final table chip leader has been close to the top of the chip counts throughout the tournament, only narrowly missing the overnight lead yesterday, and today set about targeting smaller stacks with little remorse. He knocked out his countryman Oleksii Khoreshenin, denying him the chance to add another EPT title.
Only Frederik Jensen still has the chance to double up here in Barcelona. The EPT Madrid champion -- he won the only time the tour went there for a "regular" EPT event, in Season 8 -- is at his third EPT final table. Despite that success, which was worth close to €500,000, it wasn't Jensen's biggest career cash. He won close to double that for second place in the Aussie Millions Main Event in 2010.
The 33-year-old from Copenhagen, Denmark, was faced with two huge decisions late yesterday evening, when first Mario Lopez moved all in -- a cold, five-bet shove, pre-flop -- after Jensen had four bet (Jensen folded) and then an even tougher one when Diego Casco del Riego moved all in on the river looking at a board of 9♠Q♦3♣4♠A♠. This time, Jensen called for his tournament life with 8♦9♦ and that hero call was good for a pot of more than 2 million.
Amir Touma built one of the biggest stacks in the room at the end of Day 2, and ended up sneaking into second place overall when most of us had pegged Andre Akkari as chip-leader. Touma had a handful more than the Brazilian Team Pro, but was still behind Nick Petrangelo.
That approach seems to have suited the 41-year-old, originally from Zahlé, Lebanon. He picked up the first two EPT cashes of his career in side events in Monaco at the end of last season, but will improve by a wide margin his best result.
Andreas Samuelsson is a regular on the European Poker Tour, and is enjoying his best calendar year yet. The 29-year-old finished 20th in the PCA Main Event for $58,020 in January, and then won a €2,000 side event at EPT Malta for €53,000 - his best live cash to date.
Barcelona is clearly one of Samuelsson's favourite EPT stops - he first competed here in Season 8 and has been every year since. He won his €5,300 prize package for the Main Event in a €530 online qualifier in June.
Like so many Spanish internet pros, Mario Sanchez has moved to London to carry on playing online, where he goes by the moniker of LostToRiver. The 27-year-old is an EPT and Estrellas regular but also competes in the United States, especially the World Series.
His best live result came in Marbella however - close to his home city of Malaga - when he took down a GSOP event in 2013 for €74,150.
In the same country but not the same city as Sanchez, Rainer Kempe is one of numerous German pros who have also moved to Britain to play online. While most settle on the capital, Kempe has headed down to the seaside resort of Brighton on the south coast.
The 26-year-old, who is originally from Berlin, studied at the University of Potsdam, and already has a string of good live results including seventh in the $1,111 Little One for One Drop in Vegas this summer for a lifetime best cash of $90,189. His best EPT result was fifth in a €2,000 turbo side event at the EPT Grand Final in May, cashing for €15,820. Kempe won his seat in to EPT Barcelona in a €320 deep hyper-turbo tournament on PokerStars in June.
Victor Bogdanov has been a recreational poker player for the last five years, but is now coming straight in to the spotlight at EPT Barcelona. The 42-year-old Russian businessman has won a few small tournaments, but this is his first EPT cash. This could almost be considered a "home soil" appearance as Bogdanov and his family moved to Barcelona two weeks ago.
His wife and two sons, both of whom are enrolled to study at Barcelona University, are supporting him here in the casino. Bogdanov says the family plan to split living 50/50 between here and Moscow. Bogdanov says if he wins the Main Event, the celebrations will be back in Russia where his friends are following his progress via the live coverage. When asked what would he do with the first prize, he answered simply: "I would buy some champagne!"
You can follow all the action from the various tournament floors on PokerStars Blog. The Main Event action is on the Main Event page. And the €10,000 High Roller is in its second day. Follow that one on the High Roller page.
Everything from the side events is on the side events page. It will be busy over there today as well.
There's also EPT Live for your video-based needs.
You can also begin plotting your own bid for EPT glory by downloading the PokerStars client and having a crack. Follow this EPT event via the EPT app. There you will get all the latest news, chip counts and payouts. You can download it on Android or IOS.