ESPT6 Barcelona: Mario Lopez tops 3,292, wins record-breaking Estrellas
Before this week, Mario Lopez had well proven himself at the poker table already over recent years. The Argentinian traveled to the Spanish coastal city having previously amassed nearly $1 million in tournament earnings with an LAPT Main Event title in Chile last year and a runner-up in a WSOP event this summer highlighting an illustrious catalogue of cashes.
He's been here a week and will be sticking around for another as the festival continues. But when he does leave, he'll be doing so with his standing in the poker world having been further heightened thanks to an impressive victory in the record-breaking 3,292-player Estrellas Barcelona Main Event.
Today Lopez is standing tall.
From that big field a final table of eight convened early this afternoon to determine how the last €1.39 million or so of the tournament's huge €3,193,240 prize pool would be divided. Jonn Forst began the day with the chip lead, having wrestled it away from Jose Carlos Garcia late on Day 3.
Like Lopez, Garcia -- one of a few young Polish phenoms taking poker by storm of late -- arrived at this event with a heady reputation of his own after having final tabled two other big EPT events this year, taking fourth at LAPT Bahamas in January and fifth at the EPT Grand Final in Monaco in May.
In fact, it was a crucial hand in which Lopez managed to find a big call -- for his tournament life -- against a river bluff by the aggressive Garcia that proved the turning point for both players today, helping propel Lopez to victory.
It was an eclectic group who assembled for today's final table, representing seven different countries and a variety of backgrounds and ages.
The excitement began from the day's second hand when the short-stacked Spaniard Daniel Selles picked up ace-king and ran not just into pocket kings but Knut Nystedt's pocket aces, too, to end his day early in eighth.
The player with kings in that hand -- Simon Sennhauser of Switzerland -- was hit hard as well, then not too long after would be disappointed by cowboys a second time to be knocked out in seventh. Garcia's ace-jack outdrew his K-K that time to carve the field to six.
Those two eliminations allowed Morocco's Konah Abdelhadi to ladder up a couple of spots before running into some bad fortune with pocket tens versus Nystedt's pair of deuces. Abdelhadi flopped a set, then watched Nystedt draw out a runner-runner wheel to cause him to finish in sixth.
One more small stack -- that belonging to Eduard Sanchez of Spain -- was claimed shortly thereafter in a similarly hard-luck way, his ace-eight falling to Nystedt's ace-seven when a seven came among the community cards.
It was at four-handed that Garcia put Lopez to the test, shoving the river with a massive overbet in what had been an innocuous-seeming hand to that point. On a 9♦5♥J♣5♦3♣ board, Lopez found a way to call with Q♦9♠, then saw Garcia had but 7♠4♣.
Suddenly Lopez was leader, Garcia was the short stack, and later in a three-way pot would lose the last of his chips to take fourth.
Nystedt, for whom things had gone so well early today, then saw his fortunes slip thereafter to end with a third-place finish after the final trio couldn't agree to a deal. The Norwegian's knockout uncannily echoed how he had taken out Sanchez earlier, as his ace-ten fell to Jonn Forst's ace-seven when a seven rudely fell on the river.
That pot gave Forst the chip lead to start heads-up play, but only barely with 41.1 million to Lopez's 40.9 million, the difference coming down to a single chip as the lowest in play then was worth 100K.
Speaking of differences, the pair then decided to lessen the one scheduled between first- and second-place payouts (a whopping €240K), with each taking €338K and playing for just €70K thereafter.
Lopez immediately seized the advantage and began chipping up against Forst, then at last used ace-queen to best Forst's ace-six to stop the Austrian's run one spot shy of the title.
Lopez is a medical doctor, and he certainly diagnosed his opponents today well -- especially Garcia in that memorable bluff-call -- on his way to victory. Congratulations to him and all eight of those who made it through the record ESPT Barcelona field.
Event #5: Estrellas Main Event Day 1A €1,000 + €100
Prize pool: €3,193,240
Places paid: 487
1. Mario Lopez (Argentina) €408,000*
2. Jonn Forst (Austria) €338,000*
3. Knut Nystedt (Norway) €168,000
4. Jose Carlos Garcia (Poland) €139,500
5. Eduard Sanchez (Spain) €116,540
6. Kondah Abdelhadi (Morocco) €93,600
7. Simon Sennhauser (Switzerland) €71,400
8. Daniel Selles (Spain) €52,100
*= denotes a two-way deal
Click here for detailed live updates of the entire final table. And for a complete list of payouts for the 487 who cashed in ESPT Barcelona, click here.
Thanks for following our coverage of the Estrellas Main Event, and stick close here at PokerStars Blog for much more excitement as more players find ways to stand tall in Barcelona.
Haven't gotten a PokerStars account yet? Join the world's biggest site now.
Martin Harris is Freelance Contributor to the PokerStars Blog.