Martin Schleich wins EPT Barcelona and €850,000
The European Poker Tour has a new champion tonight, with Martin Schleich, from Germany, winning the title, the trophy and a first prize of €850,000 after what has been a record-setting event in Spain.
After an epic day, Schleich's ace-nine proved enough to undo the last of the resistance, put up by Dragan Kostic, from Spain. It wasn't needed but Schleich hit a nine on the river to put EPT Barcelona to bed, albeit at 3.30am.
Runner-up Kostic defied everyone's expectation, not least his own, to finish second collecting €532,000, his career best result, although not the first Spanish winner on home soil that the locals would have wished.
Runner up, Dragan Kostic
Both he and Schleich, a chip leader from earlier in the week, put in all the necessary work and had the ability required to outlast the field, as well as the mental endurance to withstand the passing of time today.
The strain on players was obvious but it also took its toll on those watching. One railbird, cheering on Schleich, seemed to crack as the hour hand reached Friday. "Martin, it is enough!" he cried, in a last plea for mercy and for his man to end it once and for all.
The crowd in action
But those watching the main stage in the tournament room at Casino Barcelona had come to watch the real story of the day, which lay elsewhere. And when it came to a close you couldn't help but feel a sense of anti-climax.
At 2.15am tonight, after more than 13 hours of play, Eugene Katchalov's Triple Crown hopes came to an end. The exhausted Katchalov got the last of his chips in, backed by a pair of sevens. Schleich had found pocket nines and called. At such a late hour the hand - a moment of excitement - was more relevant as proof that time hadn't actually begun to stand still.
The dealer dealt the flop, the window card seven prompted a huge roar, until the rest of the flop revealed a nine, deflating those looking to witness poker history being made. Katchalov missed the turn and river and had missed poker's ultimate badge of honour, exiting in third place, earning €315,000.
Without losing impartiality, Katchalov had been the best player today, and possibly the week. To watch him was to watch a man at the top of his game playing poker in such a way as to convince others that it was easy. Graciously putting his success down to luck, he nevertheless outplayed his opponents, starting with a bluff with pocket fives on day one, to the man-handling of his opponents in today's final.
Katchalov, out in third place
Katchalov might not be the most flamboyant player to watch, not the most entertaining or exciting. But what you see is a unique poker talent, almost super human, one that has now recorded six final tables this year alone to top of the rankings when the database staff log into work tomorrow morning.
But Schleich lifted his trophy aloft tonight, in front of a loyal crowd that had watched the final since doors opened at noon.
Regardless of all eyes being on the Team PokerStars Pro, Schleich's win gives him automatic entry into the aristocracy of European poker, topping a final table that demanded talent and stamina in equal measure.
It seems a long time ago that Isobel Baltazar departed in eighth. Her elimination sparked off a long final, the results of which are below:
1. Martin Schleich, Germany, €850,000
2. Dragan Kostic, Spain, €532,000
3. Eugene Katchalov, Team PokerStars Pro, Ukraine, €315,000
4. Raul Mestre, Spain, €244,000
5. Tomeu Gomila, Spain, €185,000
6. Saar Wilf, Israel, €145,000
7. Juan Manuel Perez, Spain, €105,000
8. Isabel Baltazar, France, €73,000
Their stories, weaved between that of Katchalov and of Schleich are best described in the updates from throughout the day, which can be found by clicking through the links below.
Another great event on the PokerStars European Poker Tour comes to an end, with new records set, a new champion and the promise of more to come. The third leg of the eighth season is only a matter of weeks away when the EPT bandwagon rolls into London - from one permanent feature on the EPT to another. Coverage from London starts on 30 September.
You can also read about the newest addition to the EPT Calendar with news of EPT Loutraki announced today.
For now that's all from Barcelona where the real celebrations will likely begin tomorrow after some well-earned rest. Congratulations to EPT Barcelona winner Martin Schleich, who has two hours ten minutes to catch his flight...
Until next time, it's goodnight from Barcelona.