EPT12 Barcelona: Where have all the champions gone?

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Tom Middleton: The only former champ having another crack

A victory at the poker tables of Barcelona clearly offers the chance for a player to carry out what so many threaten to do: hit a big score and instantly vanish, only to be seen again in the background of a tourist's photograph, swinging in a straw hammock swigging from a bottle of rum.

Although that's often the dream, relatively few players actually follow through. Even Ylon Schwartz, who allowed great detail to enter his very specific escapist fantasy (I remember hearing precisely which brand of rum he was taking) came back after his big score. He picked up a World Series bracelet subsequent to his November Nine appearance, and you can't do that from the middle of the Indian Ocean.

That said, perhaps the former champions of EPT Barcelona genuinely have pooled their resources and bought themselves a desert island. Of the 11 men who have a Barcelona Main Event title on their resume, only one, Tom Middleton, has returned to the scene of his biggest success.

Unless they are planning to enter proceedings some time between now and the start of play tomorrow, none of Andre Lettau, Mikalai Pobal, Carter Phillips, Martin Schleich, Sebastian Ruthenberg, Jan Boubli, Kent Lundmark, Sander Lyloff, Bjorn-Erik Glenne or Alexander Stevic have come back to have another crack at this one. That's a shame. I hope they're enjoying their home game in their luxury villa in paradise.

Perhaps Middleton felt a little left out. Although he was indeed here, and was in the action early -- I passed by his table within the first orbit and he was already tangling in pots against Govert Metaal, among others -- he now appears to have perished.

That actually means that the aforementioned Glenne, Boubli, Scheich et al - who can still, if they want, buy in -- now have a better chance of winning EPT12 Barcelona than Middleton does. Perhaps they are the smart ones.

***

Lettau may have won the title last year, but Sam Phillips, the official runner up, took the lion's share of the money after they did a deal three-handed. Phillips is back in Barcelona this week, and is playing the EPT Main Event on Day 1B. He has found himself, however, on what may rank among the most invisibly difficult table in the room, featuring Ryan Franklin, Madis Muur and Ismael Bojang.

None are household names -- indeed, the most instantly recognisable players at the table are Salvatore Bonavena and Sin Melin -- but Muur, Bojang and Franklin are hugely respected in the game both online and off. Bojang's World Series results in the past two years are extraordinary, while a quick check of HITTHEPANDA's online results will show what he is capable of.

Phillips is now the closest to a former EPT Barcelona champion still involved, but has his work cut out.

You can follow all the action from the various tournament floors on PokerStars Blog. The Main Event action will be on the Main Event page.

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Howard Swains
@howardswains in European Poker Tour