EPT Barcelona: The final word
A record breaking EPT, graced by a stellar performance from the prince of poker's royal family - but it wasn't Phil 'Phenomenon' Ivey who was running the show. We crown a Norwegian called Bjorn-Eric Glenne.
With the biggest field in EPT history, it had been a long, long road to the final table, but with several short stacks and big blinds, we didn't have long to wait for the first casualties.
Double exit - KidPokerJD and Robin Keston OUT
Bjorn Erik Glenne busted two short-stacks in the same hand, leaving us down to six players on the final table. With blinds up to 10,000/20,000 with a 2,000 ante, KidPokerJD (Jonathan Dull) (above, with his sister) moved all-in and was called by Glenne AND by Robin Keston (above, top).
It was a three-way struggle, and only one would win it. KidPokerJD showed A-9, Glenne Q-Q and Keston 9-9. Glenne was a huge favourite, and with a board of 3-J-4-6-4 he stayed ahead throughout.
Congratulations to KidPokerJD (7th place; 92,200 euro), the last survivor of the 118 PokerStars qualifiers. The 23-year-old is from California, but has support here in the shape of his sister Jaqueline, who lives in Barcelona. Jonathan graduated in law and been playing online for three years. He fell just short of the cash at the WSOP main event this summer but did cash in the $1,000 NL event, and was also close to the money in the London EPT last year. He won his seat here in Barcelona in a $475 satellite.
Congratulations too, Robin Keston (8th place, 69,100 euro) , from London, who has been successful on the circuit for while. He is no stranger to the EPT and last year came 21st at the London tourney. He will be known to devotees of Late Night Poker, the pioneering UK television show, in which he was often a contestant. The 41-year-old owns a company that runs bingo halls...
Back in the action: the remaining big stacks were circling like vultures. Who would be the next victim?
Jeff Lisandro (6th, 115,200 euro) is busted by Phil Ivey in one of those big "OUCH" poker moments. The Italian thought he had won the monster pot...until he saw what was lurking beneath Ivey's card protector.
Here's what happened: With the blinds at 10,000/20,000, Ivey raised to 60,000 and was called by Lisandro. Everyone else got out of the way sharpish, perhaps sensing the danger ahead.
The flop came 5-10-9. Lisandro checked, Ivey bet 80,000 and Lisandro moved all in over the top to be met with an instant call. Lisandro flipped over 9-10 for two pair - enough you would have thought, until Ivey turned his 9-9 for yet another set.
The turn and river bought two fours for Ivey's full house. Jeff, we feel your pain.
Ivey's stack is up again, with him and Bjorn Erik Glenne fighting for a clear lead.
We lose Sweden's Joakim Geigert (5th, 138,200 euro), knocked out by Bjorn Erik Glenne.
Bjorn raised pre-flop, Geigert moved over the top and Glenne called. The flop was 5-9-4, Glenne checked, Geigert moved all in and Glenne called in a flash. Geigert showed A-3 for the ace high and gutshot straight draw. But Glenne had him with K-9 for top pair.
The turn and river - Q-4 - were no help for the Swede, and he left four players to fight it out for the big one: big stacks Glenne and Ivey, smaller stack David Gregory and even smaller stack David Daneshgar. At this stage you fancied Glenne and Ivey to end up heads up - but as ever there could be many twists and turns before then.
Two Davids, then one
And then there were three! David Daneshgar (4th, 161,300 euro), the pro from Los Angeles, goes out after a critical tussle with David Gregory.
Daneshgar had been flirting with danger for a while, waiting to pick his spot for a double up. This was not it. He got all-in before the flop with his Q-8 and was called by Gregory's 6-6.
The sixes have proved to be killer cards for the past few days, and so it proved for Daneshgar. His face, partly hidden below a baseball cap, lit up when he saw a Q emerge from the dealer's hands.
His joy was shortlived - the next card to come out was a six, followed by a three. Gregory had a set, Daneshgar top pair, and nothing on the turn or river changed that.
The three wise men - Ivey, Glenne and Gregory - are now on a one-hour break before coming back for the grand finale.
After a couple of hours in which Bjorn Erik Glenne turned the screw, we went heads up - after David Gregory (3rd, 184,300 euro) was knocked out by the seemingly untouchable Norwegian.
Gregory - who had moved above a struggling Phil Ivey in the chip count - faced a raise pre-flop by Glenne of 120,000, and moved all-in over the top for his remaining 550,000.
Gregory showed K-10, Glenne A-5. The flop was K-7-5 giving Gregory hope of getting right back in this final and closer to Glenne.
But a second five on the turn made the Norwegian trips and sent Gregory spinning towards the exit.
Ivey, on little more than 350,000 chips, faces a mountain to climb against Glenne, who has 4.5 million.
The pattern before Gregory's exit had been push and shove. Unfortunately for him and Ivey, Glenne had been doing the pushing, while they had been doing the shoving - their chips over to him, that is.
Ivey has been strangely subdued. His re-raises being met with moves over the top forcing him to fold on more than one occasion.
He's been in this position before, though, and you know you can't rule him out. However, it seems some of Glenne's supporters already have. They are cheering from the rail and keeping the barmen busy...
Norwegian would, could...and did
Norwegian Bjorn-Erik Glenne won the EPT in Barcelona, beating Phil Ivey heads up to pocket a cool 691,000 euros.
He crushed the final table, and even a poker superstar of Ivey's status could find no answer to his aggression and hand selection.
Ivey faced Glenne heads-up well down on chips. The Norwegian - something of a chess expert, by all accounts - had a sea of brown 5,000 chips in front of him amounting to nearly 5 million.
Ivey, meanwhile had a tiny stack by comparison of just 350,000. The early duel was straight forward - raise, fold; fold; call, check etc - but the killer hand was always just around the corner.
The blinds were 20,000/40,000 with a 4,000 ante. Glenne, first to act, called, and Ivy as he had begun to do more often, moved all in for his remaining goodies. Glenne called.
Ivey had an ace with a five, but Glenne had the 10-10 - a heads-up monster. The flop sealed it, with a third 10 falling for Glenne, 10-J-2. The turn was an 8 and then Ivey was dead.
The rail erupted. A strong Norwegian contingent is here - as they are at all the EPT tourneys. Ivey - who collected 371,000 euros - deserves much credit. This was his first EPT event, and he wasted no time in showing us all just why he is one of the best players in the world. Don't be a stranger, Phil.