Learn some more about the six players still alive on the final day of EPT Barcelona in our final table player profiles.
1 – SANTIAGO PLANTE, 27, MONTREAL, CANADA – 7.5 million
It’s almost a obligatory to be a hockey fan when you’re from Montréal, but Santiago Plante admits he only really follows the Canadiens when they make the playoffs. Unlike his hometown team, Plante is on a tremendous run – especially here at EPT Barcelona. He has made the money in each of his four tournament entries.
Plante said it was perhaps a little surprising to him. He felt he came to Barcelona slightly unprepared, having just taken a break from poker. Instead of sharpening his skills, he’d been recharging batteries, mostly at music festivals.
The break was well deserved after an exhausting summer grind in Las Vegas, where he cashed in 16 tournaments and made three final tables. Now he’s picked up where he left off, guaranteed to collect the biggest prize of his career.
“Making the televised EPT final table is a fanboy’s dream,” Plante said. He revealed that the EPT streams played an important role in sparking his passion for the game. “This is the biggest tournament outside the United States, and the last 10 days here have been a lot of fun,” he added.
2 – CARL SHAW, 31, TELFORD, UK – 17.4 million
It wasn’t even a decade ago that Carl Shaw was making the 40-minute drive from his home in Telford to the casinos of Birmingham to play a £20 buy-in tournament. In the years since he’s become a tournament regular and consistent performer in Europe and beyond, racking up almost $1.3 million in tournament cashes prior to this event.
This is Shaw’s first Main Event final table and deepest run on the EPT, but he’s playing like a man who is right at home. Shaw has had the chip lead multiple times throughout this tournament and has hovered near the top of the counts since a surge on Day 3.
His comfort at the table is all down to experience in high-pressure moments. It was 2019 when Shaw enjoyed breakout success, first putting up a deep run in the World Series of Poker (WSOP) Main Event, then immediately following it up by winning a bracelet in a $5K no limit hold’em event for $606,562, proving he knows how to navigate a prestigious final table.
Railed by the EPT London champion Ian Hamilton, Shaw will more than double his best score with victory here in Barcelona.
3 – SIMON WICIAK, 30, LA ROCHELLE, FRANCE — 22.87 million
An accomplished online tournament pro, Simon Wiciak switched his focus to the live game a little more than a year ago and has demonstrated in a dominant display at EPT Barcelona that he has the skills in this environment too. He took over the chip lead on Day 4, kept it throughout Day 5 and heads into the final at the top of the six remaining.
Wiciak was a promising student at high school in his native La Rochelle, France, with particular specialisation in maths. However, he was also a talented footballer and joined a specialist sport-studies college, where regular academic lessons complement at least 10 hours of football training per week. He progressed to be captain of the U-19 team and might have gone further, but opted instead to refocus on his studies, specialising now in engineering.
He had learned how to play poker with the football team, betting sticks of chewing gum in various changing rooms. But it was while working his first engineering job, for an industrial gases company Air Liquide, that he really found an appetite for the game. He soon found that he was making more money playing poker than in his day job and gave the life of the online pro a go.
He lived in Mauritius and Hungary as he played, becoming friends with many of the leading lights of French poker, including EPT final tablists Antoine Saout and Adrien Allain as well as former champ Jean Montury. After a successful summer at the WSOP this year, he is now committed to live poker. This performance will only serve to burnish his reputation.
4 – JOÃO SYDENSTRICKER, 37, ARAUCARIA, BRAZIL – 6.15 million
João Sydenstricker started playing poker with friends for peanuts when he was only 12 years old, usually 5-card draw. In 2009, he discovered hold’em – and that’s when he realised he could make a living from the game he used to play just for fun.
Sydenstricker’s best results have come in recent years, including a spectacular victory in the Sunday Million on PokerStars – well known as one of the toughest online tournaments. He doesn’t have too many hobbies apart from poker, but he is also a poker coach as well as player, which takes up much of his time. He says used to like football but couldn’t handle his nerves during big games, so now he enjoys walking with his dogs.
Sydenstricker says that it is incredible to be at an EPT final table – particularly alongside Andre Akkari, who is one of his idols. Having only really started playing live poker recently, he says it is something he has not even dreamed of yet.
5 – ANDRE AKKARI, 48, SAO PAULO, BRAZIL – 4.5 million
The leading light of Brazilian poker for more than a decade, Andre Akkari has been pivotal in the explosion in popularity of poker in his home country and continues to show that he can mix it with the best. There are now numerous Brazilians in the very top echelons of the world game, and all owe a debt of gratitude to the PokerStars Ambassador from Sao Paulo. He is a well-known figure in the Brazilian media, advocating for poker, and has mentored countless players as they build their careers.
Akkari himself continues to be a tremendous talent at the tables, with a particular affinity for Barcelona. He recorded his first ever tournament cash on European soil here in 2006, and also picked up his best finish at a PokerStars event in this room in 2017, when he finished fifth in what was then the PokerStars Championship. He has cashed in at least one EPT tournament in Barcelona every year for the past 10 years (Covid cancellations notwithstanding).
The latter stages of this EPT Main Event have showcased Akkari’s incredible survival skills. He had the shortest stack of all 32 players when Day 4 ended and was 16th of 16 at the end of Day 5. But Akkari is still there in the final six, with a very good chance of surpassing the payday that came with his World Series bracelet in 2011. Back then, he won $675,117 for victory in a $1,500 event. Anything better than fourth here beats that.
6 – EZEQUIEL WAIGEL, 31, BAHÍA BLANCA, ARGENTINA – 5.15 million
A friend introduced Ezequiel Waigel to poker in 2009, when he was only 18 years old. In the 14 years since, he has made his way steadily into the top 10 on the Argentina money list, closing in on $2 million in live earnings.
Waigel credits the increased availability of online poker material as the catalyst for his surge through the ranks. He studied patiently to improve his game. He is also a firm advocate for online satellites, and qualified for the Estrellas Main Event at PokerStars, which brought him and a group of friends to Barcelona.
Waigel didn’t cash in the record-breaking Estrellas event but won a seat to the EPT Main Event in a live qualifier. Now in the last six, he will claim his third six-figure score – and maybe more, should he win.
Uniquely among the players still left, Waigel already knows what it feels like to bank a million-dollar score. As “eze88888” online, he won the WCOOP Main Event on PokerStars in 2018, outlasting more than 5,000 runners.
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