PokerStars Festival Marbella: A trip down Marbella's memory lane

While this might be the first time the PokerStars Festival has touched down in Marbella, there's been plenty of hot poker action here over the years to match the weather outside. Every year since 2013 PokerStars has paid a visit to the wonderful Casino Marbella with the Estrellas and UKIPT tours combining to host a joint event. Plenty of big names have found success here over the years. Let's start at the beginning.


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2013: The Geilich Show gets its pilot commissioned

It was here that Ludovic Geilich announced himself to the poker world. He bested a field of 763 runners to win the Main Event and he did it in true Geilich fashion. As we reported at the time. "It was shortly thereafter that Geilich absolutely eviscerated Hrabia in Ivey-esque fashion, check-raising all-in on the turn with two napkins and forcing a dejected Hrabia off third pair."

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Geilich scored his first big win here

That win was worth €130,000 to Geilich and kick-started a burgeoning poker career which has blossomed and seen the Scotsman rack up over $1.4M winnings in the live arena and almost double that online. Despite all that success his win in Marbella remains the second biggest score of his live career.

Geilich wasn't the only familiar face to find his way to the winner's enclosure in the '13 edition as it was 'lucky' for Joeri Zandvliet too. The two-time UKIPT winner picked up a side event win in a €150 side event, Carsten Joh took top honours in the PLO event and the High Roller was won by Jose Devesa.

2014: Cody comes close

They say the cream rises and that was definitely the case in the Main Event. When 700 of the 720 runners had been eliminated a host of star names were still in the mix. Vicente Delgado and Ken Lennaard both fell short of the final table.

There was a live stream from the final table and with nine left just one more elimination was needed to set the official final table. Unfortunately for poker fans Sam Grafton was the ninth place finisher with the gregarious Brit leaving another well known player as the UK's only representative. That player was none other than Team PokerStars Pro Jake Cody.

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Grafton ninth

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Cody - eighth

The Triple Crown winner entered the final table in the middle of the pack but a frustrating day ended in eighth place when he shoved nines into the aces of Rodrigo Espinosa, who would go on to win the title and €136,000.

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Espinosa triumphed

2015: Barreña battles to victory

If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. Sam Grafton was back for more and he wasn't going to bubble the final table this time. The UK pro got over that bump but busted in sixth place. In truth this tournament and final table as mostly about one player. Jose 'Cejakas14' Lattore. The Spaniard was a Supernova Elite at the time and, when the final table started, he had double the chips of his nearest contender and he extended this to a three to one chip lead when heads-up play against Isidoro Barreña began. Four hours of heads-up play later though and it was Barreña who bagged the title.

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Barreña was the boss

2016: Schuman levels the score

So in terms of Main Event titles it was 2-1 to Spain heading into the fourth Estrellas/UKIPT collaboration. Could the UK & Ireland level the score? By the time the final table was reached all we knew for certain was that Spain wouldn't extend it's lead. For the first time in the events history there was no Spaniard at the final table.

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The Schuman show

Seven different nationalities were represented, including Brazil in the shape of Rodrigo Strong. He had a large chip lead going to the final table with 2.5x the chips of his nearest opponent. He still held that lead three-handed when a deal was struck and it was after then that he lost focus and eventual winner Jonathan Schuman came to the fore. ""If we hadn't done a deal he'd have won it!" said the 47-year-old property developer after he'd sealed first place and almost €100,000 in prize money. Marbella is Schuman's home from home and it was, in that respect, as much a Spanish win as it was British, which was a fitting way to end the final collaboration between the two tours.

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Nick Wright
@PokerStars in PokerStars Festival