ESPT6 Barcelona: Meet the final eight
From a huge, record-smashing turnout of 3,292 players, just eight players remain in the Estrellas Barcelona Main Event, with the final table set to play out this afternoon and evening. The huge field for this €1,000 + €100 tournament added up to a €3,193,240 prize pool, and almost €1.39 million of that is still up for grabs to be divided among the final eight.
With play set to start in about an hour, let's get to know a little more about each of today's final tablists:
Seat 1: Mario Lopez (Argentina) -- 14,410,000
A 38-year-old doctor and businessman, Lopez began playing poker over a decade ago and has met with a great deal of success, accumulating numerous tournament cashes including many on the Latin American Poker Tour where he's been a regular player since nearly the beginning of the LAPT's eight seasons. Indeed, with today's cash the Argentinian crosses the $1 million mark in career tourney earnings.
In March 2014, Lopez became an LAPT Main Event champion, winning LAPT7 Chile for nearly $118K after a final table deal. Then this past summer he picked up his biggest cash ever in the $1,111 Little One for One Drop event at the World Series of Poker, finishing runner-up out of 4,555 entries for just under $400K.
Seat 2: Daniel Selles (Spain) -- 3,120,000
One of two Spaniards at today's final table, 32-year-old Daniel Selles has just a few small cashes on his poker tournament résumé to this point, with a win in a $1K event at the WPT Doyle Brunson Five Diamond World Poker Classic in Las Vegas in 2013 earning him his biggest cash by far of $31,494.
Seat 3: Jose Carlos Garcia (Poland) -- 8,855,000
Despite being only 22, Jose Carlos Garcia has already gathered plenty of experience playing at final tables in which big cash prizes are on the line.
As "TryToExploit" on PokerStars, Garcia has accumulated significant earnings in tournaments including a Sunday Million win in March 2014 worth more than $230K. We've seen the young player from Stalowa Wola at big final tables on the EPT this year as well, as he finished fourth in the LAPT Bahamas Main Event at the PCA in January (winning nearly $120K) and fifth in the EPT Grand Final Main Event at Monaco in May (winning just under $300K).
Seat 4: Eduard Sanchez (Spain) -- 7,420,000
From Mataró just outside Barcelona, Eduard Sanchez learned to play poker while a student and has recently made the move to become a professional. Like both Lopez and Forst, the 25-year-old "Edu" Sanchez earned his way into this event by qualifying online (which he prefers over live). He has just one small tournament cash previously for a third-place showing in a €150 event here at Casino Barcelona a year-and-a-half ago, so today will mark his biggest score by far, regardless of his finish.
Seat 5: Knut Nystedt (Norway) -- 7,705,000
Norwegian Knut Nystedt has a few previous cashes to his credit from the Norwegian Championships, a tournament series many are surprised to find has been held in England, Latvia, and Ireland. It was in Dublin that the 43-year-old earned his biggest career cash of €6,425, which means he's joining other players at this final table enjoying a career-high score today. He learned the game from his grandfather who long ago taught him five-card draw.
Seat 6: Simon Sennhauser (Switzerland) -- 13,490,000
A 26-year-old builder, Simon Sennhauser has earned three dozen cashes in Las Vegas tournaments over the last three years, the largest coming for a second-place finish in a $1,600 Deepstack Extravaganza event at the Venetian, good for a $74,431 score.
Seat 7: Kondah Abdelhadi (Morocco) -- 2,895,000
Longtime player and businessman Kondah Abdelhadi has nearly 100 tournament cashes to his credit, the majority of which he's earned in Marrakech in his native Morocco, with total lifetime earnings exceeding $440,000 -- good enough for second all-time on the Morocco money list.
Seat 8: Jonn Forst (Austria) - 24,090,000
The 31-year-old chip leader Jonn Forst of Vienna grabbed the lead away from Garcia late yesterday with 10 players left, calling a huge bluff and then adding still further to his stack to start today's final table with nearly a third of the chips in play.
Forst final tabled the Eureka 5 Main Event in Hamburg back in May, finishing fifth for a career-best €22,940 that he'll be exceeding today no matter where he finishes.
When the final eight return today, here is what they'll be playing for:
Play begins at 12:30 p.m. Central European Time -- that's six hours ahead of Eastern time, and two hours in front of GMT. We'll have live updates throughout the final table, so stick close to see who among this group sticks around for those huge payouts up top, and which one emerges with the coveted ESPT Barcelona Main Event trophy and €491,000 first prize.
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Martin Harris is Freelance Contributor to the PokerStars Blog.