Thursday, 8th December 2022 16:58
Home / Uncategorized / EPT Barcelona: Haoxiang Wang grabs spotlight, lead for Main Event finale, Dimov seeks 2nd title

There were two EPT Main Event champions among the final 13 players returning for today’s Day 5 of the EPT Barcelona Main Event, all that was left from the record-breaking 1,931-entry field. Among them were several other accomplished players with plenty of prior tournament success as well.

But truthfully, it was the player with the shortest poker résumé who earned most of the attention today. And the most chips, too — Haoxiang Wang.

Haoxiang Wang: Focus of attention

The young player from China has just one small cash recorded, collected in the APPT Manila series last month. But his mix of bold bluffs and aggression kept us all riveted, and kept his opponents on their heels as well as he amassed a leading stack of 16.2 million to take to tomorrow’s finale with six players left.

The path from 13 down to nine took about three-and-a-half hours, with the knockouts spaced out well enough for each to be appreciated as its own mini-drama depicting the fall of each successive hero.

First to go was the UK’s Danny Tang, who faced a tough river spot having paired his kicker with ace-nine but facing an all-in challenge to his short stack from Pedro Marques. At last the 2017 EPT Prague €10K High Roller champion called, but Marques had a big blind special, having flopped trip treys with ten-trey, and Tang was unluckily out in 13th.

Danny Tang – 13th place

Another Brit went out in 12th. Ben Heath began the day on the short side and finally got his stack in behind king-queen only to run into Piotr Nursynski’s pocket aces. The flop brought Heath two pair, which proved a tease when Nursynski filled Broadway on the river to win it.

Ben Heath – 12th place

The Brazilian Fabiano Kovalski, winner of the €2K Deep Stack event during the 2017 PokerStars Championship Barcelona series, was the next short stack to fall in 11th when his eights couldn’t hold against Mark Buckley’s ace-ten.

Fabiano Kovalski – 11th place

Then after surviving all-ins twice himself, Georges Hanna of Lebanon suffered being on the wrong end of the same when Ognyan Dimov doubled through him. Soon after Georges was all-in once more with pocket fours on the flop, but John Juanda was calling with with pocket kings and two cards later Georges was done in 10th.

Georges Hanna – 10th place

The next three knockouts came a bit more quickly, adding up to a relatively early evening in a week’s worth of long sessions for this event.

Along with 2015 EPT Deauville Main Event winner Dimov, Poker Hall of Famer Juanda was also looking for a second EPT Main Event title here, and in fact his second one in Barcelona after he won the Main Event here three years ago.

But Juanda came in with a short stack today, then suffered Patrick Clarke doubling through him in a preflop flip to fall squarely into the danger zone.

As it happened, Dimov was the one who ended Juanda’s quest when the latter reraise-pushed with sixes, Dimov called with ace-queen, and the board brought both a queen and an ace to stop Juanda’s run.

Juanda was pretty happy with his finish, noting how he’d enjoyed plenty of good fortune to help him negotiate his way through most of such a big field.

“Obviously I’m a little bit disappointed, but it’s not bad, you know?” Juanda said afterwards. “It’s pretty standard in tournaments you know. Sometimes I win my fair share, and sometimes I lose. Busting out on hands that you play the way you’re supposed to, that doesn’t bother me too much.”

John Juanda – 9th place

While Wang and Dimov continued to soar above the others chip-wise, the Irishman Patrick Clarke became the next player to fall after getting his chips in with pocket nines and running into Piotr Nurzynski’s pocket aces to go out in eighth and boost his career tournament earnings over $1 million.

Patrick Clarke – 8th place

The other remaining player from Ireland, Mark Buckley, would be the last knockout of the night after getting all in with overcards and a flush draw against the flopped made hand of Piotr Nurzynski, but failing to hit his hand.

Mark Buckley – 7th place

That pot helped Nurzynski rise in the counts to challenge Wang for the end-of-night lead while Dimov slipped back toward the pack. But when the bags came out, Wang was still out in front.

Here’s how the counts will stack up to begin play tomorrow:

Name Country Chips BBs
Haoxiang Wang China 16,200,000 81
Piotr Nurzynski Poland 15,425,000 77
Ognyan Dimov Bulgaria 10,125,000 51
Matthias Tikerpe Estonia 7,100,000 36
Pedro Marques Portugal 6,950,000 35
Rodrigo Carmo Portugal 2,000,000 10

Will Wang continue to keep the spotlight on him all of the way to the winner’s circle? Will Dimov become the second player ever to capture a second EPT Main Event title? Will one of the Portugeuse players, Marques or Carmo, take the title? Or will Nurzynski or Tikerpe break through to win?

Join us again tomorrow and we’ll find out the answers to all of these questions together. Play starts at noon, with live stream and our accompanying coverage beginning a half-hour after that. Until then, ¡buenas noches! –MH


• PLAYERS: 6 of 1,931 entries (inc. 457 re-entries)
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7:50pm: Play slows to its conclusion
Level 31 – Blinds 80,000/160,000 (BB ante 160,000)

Some small-ball nothingness towards the end of the level brings a rip-roaring day of poker to a close here in Barcelona. It was especially good for Huoxiang Wang and Piotr Nurzynski who head the overnight counts. A full recap of the day is coming imminently. — HS

7:40pm: Double call helps Tikerpe double
Level 31 – Blinds 80,000/160,000 (BB ante 160,000)

Matthias Tikerpe was in the big blind with A9 and facing a limp from the big-stacked Ognyan Dimov on button. In went Tikerpe’s 3.24 million to put the pressure on his Bulgarian opponent who had actually limped with A8.

Matthias Tikerpe: Awaits his fate

The dealer secures the double up

Dimov took his time and then made the call. The board ran 87935 and Tikerpe stayed alive. Dimov dropped to 11.15 million. Tikerpe moved up to 6.64 million. –MC

Matthias Tikerpe celebrates with his rail

7:35pm: Playing to the end
Level 31 – Blinds 80,000/160,000 (BB ante 160,000)

They’re going to play to the end of this level six-handed, so stand by for 20 minutes more unexpected poker.

Name Country Chips BBs
Piotr Nurzynski Poland 15,680,000 98
Haoxiang Wang China 14,885,000 93
Ognyan Dimov Bulgaria 14,385,000 90
Pedro Marques Portugal 6,750,000 42
Matthias Tikerpe Estonia 3,400,000 21
Rodrigo Carmo Portugal 2,760,000 17

7:25pm: Nurzynski felts Buckley, down to six
Level 31 – Blinds 80,000/160,000 (BB ante 160,000)

Ouch. That’s the end of Mark Buckley, capping a wretched 30 minutes for poker fans from Ireland. Buckley follows his countryman Patrick Clarke out of the door, losing the last of his chips to the resurgent Piotr Nurzynski. Not just resurgent, he is the chip leader.

The hand played out as follows. Nurzynski found himself a cheeky big slick. It was AK to be precise and he raised to 350,000 from UTG+1. Action passed around to Buckley in the big blind and he saw the J10 and called.

No more Mark Buckley

The flop was all kinds of interesting. It fell J22. Buckley checked, Nurzynski bet 300,000 and then Buckley jammed for his 2.57 million stack. With overcards and the nut flush draw, Nurzynski called.

This was pretty much a coin-flip, but it swung dramatically in Nurzynski’s favour when the Q hit the turn. Buckley had two outs, but the 6 was not one of them, and he was sent to the rail. He gets €220,000.

Piotr Nurzynski: Moves into the lead

Nurzynski, meanwhile, now has 15.68 million and overtakes both Huoxiang Wang and Ognjan Dimov at the top of the leader board. — HS

7:15pm: Wang drops out of the lead
Level 31 – Blinds 80,000/160,000 (BB ante 160,000)

Haoxiang Wang got tricky with 106 in the small blind. He raised to 500,000 and was called by Pedro Marques in the next seat who held a strong KQ.

The flop came 8Q10 and Wang check-called 375,000 and another 1.1 million on the 4 turn. The A river shut down any action that wasn’t a check. Marques raked in the pot to rise to 6.83 million, whereas Wang dropped out of the lead with 14.49 million. –MC

7:10pm: Tikerpe doubles though Dimov
Level 31 – Blinds 80,000/160,000 (BB ante 160,000)

Matthias Tikerpe had been quiet of late, but he just came alive with a double to 3.48 million.

The Estonian hope Matthias Tikerpe

The action folded around to the big stacked Ognyan Dimov who ripped all-in, putting the two players in the blinds under pressure for all their chips. Mark Buckley folded, not so Tikerpe though, who called all-in for 1.62 million.

Tikerpe: A7
Dimov: K6

The board ran 58J710 to keep Tikerpe–and Estonian hopes–alive.

A rare wing-clip for Ognyan Dimov

Dimov dropped to 13.64 million –MC

7:05pm: Wang cements lead
Level 31 – Blinds 80,000/160,000 (BB ante 160,000)

Haoxiang Wang raised to 350,000 in the cutoff with KJ and was called by Pedro Marques in position. The flop came 925 and both players checked to the 4 turn.

Once again Wang checked, then called after his opponent bet 375,000. The 10 river changed nothing and Wang led for 600,000 and got a quick fold.

Wang moved up to 16.78 million and Marques dropped to 5.205 million. –MC

6:55pm: Clarke’s rough run continues, slams into aces, busts
Level 31 – Blinds 80,000/160,000 (BB ante 160,000)

A remarkable hand here–rigged, you might say–as four out of the remaining eight players found playable hands and the action heated up pre-flop. But it was a gross spot for Patrick Clarke, who saw the last of his stack head to Poland’s Piotr Nurzynski.

Nurzynski found AA and raised to 350,000. Huoxiang Wang then found KJ and called. Then Pedro Marques looked at 1010 and then Clarke peeked at 99 and licked his lips at all the “dead” money out there.

Patrick Clarke: Leaves in eighth

There’s not a poker player in the world who wouldn’t have done what Clarke now did. He pushed for 4.48 million. It was now just a question of whether Nurzynski was going to just call or re-shove, and he opted for the latter. That persuaded both Wang and Marques to shy away.

So it was that the under-pair of Clarke tried to overtake the rockets. They couldn’t on a board of 62KKJ. Wang was trying to get people interested in the fact that he could have knocked them both out, but no one was listening.

Major boost for Piotr Nurzynski

Table-mates consoled Clarke as his tournament ended in eighth and with a €155,000 paycheck. We’re down to seven, and Nurzynski is now flying high with 12.92 million. — HS

6:50pm: Clarke gets some back
Level 31 – Blinds 80,000/160,000 (BB ante 160,000)

Patrick Clarke found 55 under the gun and came in with an open to 350,000. Ognyan Dimov called from the next seat with AQ and Pedro Marques – getting a good price – called in the big blind with 98.

The flop came KK7 and Clarke continued for 450,000. Only Dimov called to the 8, giving Dimov the nut flush draw. Clarke checked and Dimov checked behind. The 6 fell on the river and both players checked.

Clarke scooped that needed pot and moved up to a 30 big blind stack 4.99 million. Dimov dropped to 15.66 million. –MC

6:45pm: Carmo shoves, Clarke concedes
Level 31 – Blinds 80,000/160,000 (BB ante 160,000)

Patrick Clarke raised to 350,000 from middle position with Q10, and it folded around to Rodrigo Carmo in the big blind who had picked up AJ. Carmo thought a moment, then announced he was all in for 2.25 million total.

Clarke thought a short while, but ultimately had to let his hand go and preserved his stack of 3.6 million. Meanwhile Carmo chips to 2.84 million. –MH

6:40pm: Wang, wang, wang
Level 31 – Blinds 80,000/160,000 (BB ante 160,000)

Rodrigo Carmo opened from the cutoff and Huoxiang Wang defended from the button. We didn’t see bet-sizing as the TV team was interviewing John Juanda at the time. The pot was 1.1 million, however.

Carmo had KQ to Wang’s J7 and neither player hit anything, nor committed a chip, until the whole board was out. It ran 108483, punctuated by checks.

Carmo again checked the river, but Wang scented opportunity. He bet 825,000. Carmo, who has the toughest seat in the house with Wang to his left, pondered for around 50 seconds as he searched for the hero.

Rodrigo Carmo searches for the hero in pot against Huoxiang Wang

He couldn’t find it, folded, and watched his stack slip to 2.41 million as Wang flew up to 15.5 million. — HS

6:30pm: Dimov moves up; Marques makes good fold
Level 31 – Blinds 80,000/160,000 (BB ante 160,000)

Ognyan Dimov raised to 350,000 from second position with KJ and Pedro Marques defended his big blind with KJ. The flop came KJA and Marques check-called 265,000. The 7 turn was safe for Dimov to fire again, for 1.1 million. Marques made a good check-fold to drop to 6.55 million. Dimov, meanwhile, moved up to 16.46 million. –MC

6:25pm: Play resumes
Level 31 – Blinds 80,000/160,000 (BB ante 160,000)

They’re back at it. There’s a dinner break scheduled after this level, although if they get down to six before that play will stop then. And if they get down to seven, they may change those dinner plans. –MH


6:05pm: Break time, Wang still in front

With eight players left they are off on another 20-minute break with Haoxiang Wang still leading, although Ognyan Dimov isn’t too far behind.

Haoxiang Wang: Chip collector

Check below for an updated look at the current counts. –MH

Name Country Chips BBs
Haoxiang Wang China 16,515,000 103
Ognyan Dimov Bulgaria 15,590,000 97
Pedro Marques Portugal 7,345,000 46
Piotr Nurzynski Poland 5,835,000 36
Patrick Clarke Ireland 3,760,000 24
Mark Buckley Ireland 3,290,000 21
Rodrigo Carmo Portugal 3,160,000 20
Matthias Tikerpe Estonia 2,375,000 15

6:05pm: Nurzynski grabs last pot of level
Level 30 – Blinds 60,000/120,000 (BB ante 120,000)

In the last hand of the level, Patrick Clarke opened for 22 from the hijack for 250,000, Mark Buckley called from the button with 66, and Piotr Nurzynski also called from the big blind with AJ.

The 73J flop checked around, then after the 8 turn Nurzynski led with a bet and all folded. –MH
Level 30 – Blinds 60,000/120,000 (BB ante 120,000)

In the last hand of the level, Patrick Clarke opened for 22 from the hijack for 250,000, Mark Buckley called from the button with 66, and Piotr Nurzynski also called from the big blind with AJ.

The 73J flop checked around, then after the 8 turn Nurzynski led with a bet and all folded. –MH

6pm: Dimov creeping up to Wang’s shoulder
Level 30 – Blinds 60,000/120,000 (BB ante 120,000)

Mark Buckley (UTG) opened to 260,000 with AQ and the action folded around to Ognyan Dimov in the big blind who three-bet to 1.25 million with QQ. Randy Lew on commentary said it was a tough spot for Buckley who elected to call.

A 988 flop came down and Dimov continued with an 850,000 bet. Buckley was in no mood to fold and called to the 10 turn where Dimov checked. Buckley checked behind and the last community card was the 2.

Dimov checked once more, maybe trying to induce but Buckley checked behind. Dimov cemented his place in second sport with 15.35 million. Buckley dropped to 3.97 million. –MC

5:55pm: John Juanda’s quest for second EPT Barcelona title ends with ninth-place finish
Level 30 – Blinds 60,000/120,000 (BB ante 120,000)

After suffering that double-up through him by Patrick Clarke, John Juanda — winner of this same event here in Barcelona in 2015 — had been ninth of nine in chips for a while when he watched Ognyan Dimov raise to 250,000 from under the gun. Unbeknownst to Juanda, Dimov had AQ. Dimov has an EPT Main Event win as well, of course, won at EPT Deauville the same year as Juanda’s title.

John Juanda’s double chance ends

One seat over, Juanda looked down at 1010 and re-raised all-in for his last 1.4 million. It folded back around to Dimov who called, and Juanda was at risk.

The two watched the flop come Q88, swinging the advantage from one champ to another as Dimov now had the better pair. The turn was the 3 and river the A, improving Dimov further to two pair, and Juanda is out in ninth for €118,265.

John Juanda eliminated: If you don’t have a mic, you’re not in the game

Dimov is now up to 13.2 million. –MH

5:45pm: Marques’s squeeze fail
Level 30 – Blinds 60,000/120,000 (BB ante 120,000)

Mark Buckley was in middle position with KJ and came in for a 260,000 raise. Piotr Nurzynski called with KQ and Pedro Marques used a time bank chip before he squeezed to 1.18 million with 53 from the big blind. Buckley wasted little time in folding but Nurzynski called.

Piotr Nurzynski: Nice small pot

A K10J flop came down and Marques checked to Nurzynski who checked it back. The 6 turn was a blank and both players checked once more.

The 2 filled up the board and Marques gave it some thought before he gave up with a check. Nurzynski checked behind, scooped and moved up to 5.275 million. Marques dropped to 7.405 million. –MC

5:40pm: Jacks work for Buckley
Level 30 – Blinds 60,000/120,000 (BB ante 120,000)

Mark Buckley picked up JJ in the hijack seat and raised to 265,000. It folded to Piotr Nurzynski on the button who called with QJ and the blinds stepped aside.

Ooh, jacks for Mark Buckley

The flop fell 91010. Buckley sat a few seconds, then continuation bet to 335,000. Nurzynski called. The turn was the 4. Buckley checked this time, and Nurzynski checked behind.

The river brought the 10, a third ten on board, and after Buckley fired 1.1 million Nurzynski got out.

Buckley has 6.375 million now, Buckley 4.825 million. –MH

5:30pm: Wang takes down four-way pot to extend lead
Level 30 – Blinds 60,000/120,000 (BB ante 120,000)

Pedro Marques picked up AJ and raised to 250,000 from middle position. He picked up calls from Haoxiang Wang 1010, Ognjan Dimov A3 and Matthias Tikerpe 32.

The flop came 86Q and the action checked around to Wang on the button who bet 600,000. He had the best hand and all three opponents believed him and folded. That extended Wang’s lead as he moved up to 16.39 million. –MC

5:25pm: Clarke doubles through Juanda, leaves former champ short
Level 29 – Blinds 50,000/100,000 (BB ante 100,000)

Patrick Clarke had slipped down to the short stack after that hand against Haoxiang Wang, and his nearest neighbour down there, John Juanda opened the very next pot, to 260,000. Juanda had with AQ.

Patrick Clarke: Doubling

Wang called the open with A10 in the cutoff, but then Clarke found 66 in the small blind. He only had one move and ripped his last 1.755 million into the middle.

Juanda opted to call, and made sure that everyone knew he wasn’t re-shoving. Wang seemed to think that meant strength, and he folded.

John Juanda in need of some help

So this was a flip, even though we knew that one ace had been folded. And Clarke’s pair managed to stay good through the 523J7 board.

That doubled up Clarke to 4.01 million, or 33 big blinds, while Juanda slipped to 1.4 million, which is 11 bigs. — HS

5:20pm: The Wang show continues
Level 30 – Blinds 60,000/120,000 (BB ante 120,000)

After three-betting from the small blind with pocket sevens to win another hand, Haoxiang Wang was back in action the next hand with an opening raise from the button to 250,000 with AQ, and Patrick Clarke defended his big blind by calling with Q7.

The flop came 42Q, pairing both players’ queens, and both checked. Both then checked the 8 as well, and the river brought the case queen — the Q — to give both players trips.

Clarke led with a big bet of 625,000. Wang sat for about 20 seconds, then slid out a big bet of 2.2 million. Clarke studied for less than that, then called to pay off Wang.

Wang is now way up to 15.715 million, having added to his lead, while Clarke is now ninth of nine with 1.755 million. –MH

5:15pm: Wang back into the lead
Level 30 – Blinds 60,000/120,000 (BB ante 120,000)

Mark Buckley opened to 250,000 with 77 and Haoxiang Wang defended his big blind with 74 in the big blind. The flop fell 494 and Wang bet his trips for 200,000. Call.

Wang bet 1 million on the A turn and was called before the A completed the board. Both players checked and Wang took the pot and moved back into the lead with 12.595 million.

Mark Buckley: Loses to a dominated seven

Buckley dropped to 5.43 million. –MC

5:10pm: Dimov into lead, over 12 million
Level 30 – Blinds 60,000/120,000 (BB ante 120,000)

Patrick Clarke opened to 250,000 with A10 and Ognyan Dimov three-bet from the hijack seat to 750,000 holding A10. Clarke called the reraise, and the flop came QK8. Clarke checked, then called after Dimov fired 450,000.

Ognyan Dimov: Into the lead

The turn was the 7 and Clarke quickly checked again. Dimov carefully carved out a bet of 1 million, and that was enough to get the fold from Clarke.

Dimov is now just over 12 million, while Clarke has 4.325 million. –MH

5:05pm: Tikerpe over Juanda
Level 29 – Blinds 50,000/100,000 (BB ante 100,000)

John Juanda opened to 260,000 from the button with J6 and Matthias Tikerpe called in the big blind with 86. The flop was better for Tikerpe than it was for Juanda. It came Q78. Nevertheless, Juanda bet it and Tikerpe called.

The 6 turn was checked through, even though it was now two pair for Tikerpe and a pair for Juanda, and then the 5 completed the board. Tikerpe bet 300,000 at it and Juanda took a few moments before realising that his single pair wasn’t better than pretty much anything Tikerpke could have. He folded. — HS

5pm: Big three-way pot goes the way of Dimov
Level 30 – Blinds 60,000/120,000 (BB ante 120,000)

A very interesting 3.18 million pot broke out between Patrick Clarke, Ognyan Dimov and Mark Buckley.

Clarke opened to 250,000 from the cutoff and was called by Dimov on the button and Buckley in the big blind. A 10QQ flop appeared and Clarke, who flopped a huge draw with J9, continued for 250,000.

Dimov held KQ for trips so was going nowhere too. He called before Buckley made a surprise check-raise to 750,000 with 66.

Ognyan Dimov: Wins three-way

Unsurprisingly, both opponents called before all three checked the 2 river. The 4 completed the board and Dimov bet 2.25 million when the action was checked to him. Buckley used two time bank chips before folding along with Clarke.

Dimov – 10.54 million
Buckley – 6.45 million
Clarke – 5.53 million

4:55pm: Juanda shoves flop, Dimov relents
Level 30 – Blinds 60,000/120,000 (BB ante 120,000)

Ognyan Dimov limped with Q7 in the small blind, John Juanda made it 360,000 to go from the big blind with J10, and Dimov called.

The flop came K6Q. Dimov checked, and Juanda waited a couple of beats before raising all in for his entire stack of 2.835 million.

Dimov studied just 10 seconds or so before letting his hand go, and Juanda scooped the pot.

Juanda moves up to 3.675 million while Dimov is at just over 8.35 million. –MH

4:50pm: Wang gets too tricky, gives back to Marques
Level 30 – Blinds 60,000/120,000 (BB ante 120,000)

Haoxiang Wang and Pedro Marques just did battle again, with Wang backing himself into a corner and having to fold to a raise on the river.

Pre-flop, Wang opened to 250,000 with A8 and Marques called on the button with KJ.

They then saw the 4JA flop and both players checked, with Wang presumably laying a trap. He had top pair, but was possibly hoping Marques would bomb it.

The 9 turn was also checked through, which proved to be a mistake from Wang because the 8 came on the river. That gave Marques the nut flush.

Wang bet 425,000 but it was too late. Marques put 1.8 million in there and Wang had to fold. — HS

4:45pm: Wang keeps betting, keeps winning
Level 30 – Blinds 60,000/120,000 (BB ante 120,000)

It folded to the always active Haoxiang Wang on the button who raised to 250,000 with 106, and only Pedro Marques called from the small blind with Q9.

The flop came 8K10 and Marques checked. Wang continued for 250,000, and Marques paused a few moments before check-raising to 1.1 million.

No stopping Haoxiang Wang

Action back on Wang, he sat quietly for a few seconds, then reraised himself up to 2.32 million. Marques thought a while before laying it down, and Wang showed one card — his ten — before collecting the pot.

Wang increases his lead to 11.76 million, while Marques has 8.28 million now. –MH

4:40pm: Marques escapes from countryman’s grasp
Level 30 – Blinds 60,000/120,000 (BB ante 120,000)

Rodrigo Carmo raised to 250,000 from the button with Q8 and Pedro Marques called with J6 from the big blind. This was Portuguese vs. Portuguese, and I don’t think that’s ever happened before on an EPT final table.

The flop came 699 and Marques checked. Carmo bet 125,000 with air and Marques called with his pair of sixes.

The turn hit Carmo. It was the Q. This time it went check, bet (550,000) fold. Good play all round. — HS

4:35pm: Nurzynski picks up a few from Wang
Level 30 – Blinds 60,000/120,000 (BB ante 120,000)

It folded around to Piotr Nurzynski on the button who raised to 250,000 from the button with A6, and Haoxiang Wang defended his big blind with a call holding K6.

The flop came 695, giving both a pair of sixes. Both players checked the flop and the 3 turn. Then after the 5 river Wang check-called a bet of 300,000 from Nurzynski and the latter earned the pot.

Nurzynski moves up to 4.86 million while Wang still leads with 10.23 million. –MH

4:30pm: Aggressive start
Level 30 – Blinds 60,000/120,000 (BB ante 120,000)

On either the first or second hand of single-table play, Haoxiang Wang raised to 225,000. And nobody called. I don’t recall what two cards he had even though we’re now seeing all of them because it’s cards-up on But with Wang it could be absolutely anything.

On the next hand, Pedro Marques raised to 225,000 from UTG+1 with A7 and Patrick Clarke immediately three-bet to AQ in the seat to his left. It passed back to Marques, who time-bank-raised to 1.650 million.

Clarke had the best hand, but Marques had the bigger stack and the stronger right arm. Clarke folded. This has been a lively start. — HS

4:25pm: Play resumes
Level 29 – Blinds 50,000/100,000 (BB ante 100,000)

Everyone is in their places, and cards are back in the air with nine players still in contention for the 2018 EPT Barcelona Main Event title. There are just a couple of minutes left in Level 29.

They’ll be playing down to six today before stopping and then coming back for tomorrow’s finale. –MH

Nine players, one trophy

3:31pm: Last nine
Level 29 – Blinds 50,000/100,000 (BB ante 100,000)

The last nine players are now all on one table, which is being screened cards up on We’ll be reporting only at the same time as the pictures, which means we’ll now be taking a 30-minute break before that starts up again.

Here’s the redraw and full chip counts:

Seat Name Country Chips
1 Mark Buckley Ireland 7,630,000
2 Matthias Tikerpe Estonia 2,395,000
3 Piotr Nurzynski Poland 4,375,000
4 Rodrigo Carmo Portugal 3,375,000
5 Haoxiang Wang China 10,650,000
6 Pedro Marques Portugal 9,325,000
7 Patrick Clarke Ireland 7,425,000
8 Ognyan Dimov Bulgaria 8,960,000
9 John Juanda Indonesia 3,315,000

3:31pm: No comeback for Hanna as he falls in 10th
Level 29 – Blinds 50,000/100,000 (BB ante 100,000)

The unofficial final table has been set after Georges Hanna fell to former EPT Barcelona champion John Juanda.

Georges Hanna hits the rail

Hanna just limped on the button and then called after Juanda raised to 350,000 out of the big blind. The flop fanned 986 and Juanda checked and then called after Hanna committed his last 515,000.

Juanda: KK
Hanna: 44

The board ran out 78 and Hanna will earn €98,900 for his deep run, that fell just short of the last table of players. –MC

3:30pm: Big stacks bomb away as Wang moves over 10 milly
Level 29 – Blinds 50,000/100,000 (BB ante 100,000)

Haoxiang Wang opened for 225,000 from under the gun, and Patrick Clarke didn’t waste too much time before he three-bet to 600,000. It folded back around to Wang who quickly started carving out more gray 100,000 chips, and he made it 2.1 million to go.

Clarke thought just a short while before making the call, meaning the pot was up around 4.5 million when the flop came 689.

Wang again acted quickly, setting out a column of chips representing a bet of 2 million. Clarke then pulled out his last three time bank cards, and proceeded to spend them one by one before finally letting his hand go.

Wang showed one of his cards — the A — and collected the pot.

Wang looks to be the leader again now with 10.2 million, while Clarke has 7.33 million. –MH

3:25pm: Hanna short after he doubles Dimov
Level 29 – Blinds 50,000/100,000 (BB ante 100,000)

A cooler of a flop saw fireworks go off between Georges Hanna and Ognyan Dimov. It left Hanna with fewer than 10 big blinds and Dimov with 9 million.

Ognyan Dimov: Under threat

Hanna completed from the small blind and then raised to 900,000 after Dimov raised to 350,000 out of the big blind. Dimov called and a K1010 flop appeared. Hanna led for 1.4 million and then called when his opponent shoved for 3.605 million.

Hanna: Q4 for a flush draw
Dimov: A10 for trips

Ognyan Dimov: Did he win, do you think?

The board ran out a blank 29 and Hanna was left with just 865,000. –MC

3:15pm: Jam gets Carmo unstuck
Level 29 – Blinds 50,000/100,000 (BB ante 100,000)

Haoxiang Wang opened to 210,000 from the cutoff and Patrick Clarke three-bet to 550,000 on the button. This was a throwback to the early action of today.

But then Rodrigo Carmo moved all-in from the big blind for 2.935 million and that put a stop to the Wang/Clarke love-in.

Rodrigo Carmo: Jams

Wang quickly folded, but Clarke was interested. He was two time-bank interested, to be precise, before realising the fold was the right play. Carmo therefore picked up an additional 800,000 without seeing a flop.

He has 3.75 million now. — HS

3:10pm: Clarke setting the pace
Level 29 – Blinds 50,000/100,000 (BB ante 100,000)

Shortly after that elimination of Fabiano Kovalski, Patrick Clarke picked up a nice pot at the outer table after making an ace-high flush against Matthias Tikerpe and getting value from his opponent on the end.

Clarke has motored up to about 9.125 million in chips now, which puts him at the top of the counts currently with 10 players left while Tikerpe slips back to 2.25 million –MH

Strong day thus far for Patrick Clarke

3pm: Kovalski felted in 11th
Level 29 – Blinds 50,000/100,000 (BB ante 100,000)

That’s the end of the road for Fabiano Kovalski, who has gone from second in chips at the start of the day to the rail in 11th place. And he didn’t put a foot wrong at any time either.

Fabiano Kovalski: How he’d like to be remembered

His final hand went as follows:

Haoxiang Wang opened to 200,000 from the cutoff and Kovalski moved all-in for 1.65 million from the small blind. Mark Buckley in the big blind was the one who wanted the count, and he duly then called. Wang folded.

It was a race, with 88 for Kovalski and A10 for Buckley.

The cameras gathered to see the dealer put the 373 on the flop, which changed nothing. But the 10 turn hit Buckley and left only two outs for Kovalski. The Q river was not one of them, and he was put out of his misery.

Misery for Kovalski

Buckley now stack about 8 million, while Kovalski has already converted his tournament equity into a €98,900 payday. — HS

2:55pm: Tikerpe calls Wang’s bluff with ace-high
Level 29 – Blinds 50,000/100,000 (BB ante 100,000)

Matthias Tikerpe limped from the cutoff and watched Haoxiang Wang raise to 325,000 from the button. The blinds got out, Tikerpe called, and the flop came 585. Tikerpe check-called a continuation bet of 325,000 from Wang, then both checked the 3 turn.

The river was the 8 and Tikerpe checked again. As Wang bet 525,000, Tikerpe was actually looking back at the feature table where a big hand was playing out. He looked back down and considered Wang’s bet for a while, then called.

“Jack,” said Wang, turning over J2 to show he’d been bluffing. Tikerpe showed but A7 for ace-high, seeing he’d made the right decision to call.

Tikerpe has 3.9 million while Wang still has 8.75 million. –MH

Tikerpe chooses correctly on the river

2:50pm: Heath given false hope before busting
Level 29 – Blinds 50,000/100,000 (BB ante 100,000)

Poker’s a funny old game. Piotr Nurzynski was a flip away from going out in 12th, now he has 4.85 million after passing that fate onto Ben Heath.

Ben Heath heads home

Nurzynski opened to 200,000 off the button and snapped after Heath three-bet all-in for 1.81 million from the small blind.

Heath: KQ
Nurzynski: AA

Ben Heath senses an outdraw…

…but not for him

The KJQ flop gave Heath false hope as the board ran out 210 to make Nurzynski Broadway. Heath takes home €88,250 for a fine week’s work. –MC

2:45pm: Least value ever from a time-bank chip?
Level 29 – Blinds 50,000/100,000 (BB ante 100,000)

With the dangerous Haoxiang Wang to his left, Matthias Tikerpe has started a limping strategy pre-flop. I’ve seen him limp in for the minimum 100,000 three times in the past 20 minutes or so.

It hasn’t always earned him many chips, but the strategy did manage to help him gain a tiny advantage over Wang recently, if only because it meant Wang ended up accidentally using a time-bank card.

To explain: after three folds, Tikerpe threw out a single 100,000-denomination chip from the button. That nominally put the action on Wang in the small blind. He sat silently and motionless as his 30-second time allocation dropped all the way to zero and the dealer started another one.

It was about 15 seconds in when someone told Wang that action was on him and, as suspected, he hadn’t realised that was the case. He folded his cards immediately. Tikerpke and Patrick Clarke then played a small unraised pot, button against big blind, and on its conclusion, the dealer asked Wang for a time-bank card.

Wang chuckled and said that he hadn’t seen Tikerpke’s limp because the chip had landed on one of the white areas of branding on the table, where it ended up camouflaged, like a chameleon blending into its background.

This was clearly true, but rules are rules and Wang continued laughing as he handed over the card. That must be the least value any player has ever got from a time-bank card. — HS

2:40pm: Nurzynski doubles through Marques
Level 29 – Blinds 50,000/100,000 (BB ante 100,000)

PokerStars qualifier Piotr Nurzynski breathed a sigh of relief after he won a race in the blinds to double to 2.95 million.

He was in the big blind and called all-in for 1.47 million after Pedro Marques set him in from the small blind.

Marques: 66
Nurzynski: A8

The board ran 5981010 to make Nurzynski two pair. Marques dropped to a still huge 8.44 million. –MC

Piotr Nurzynski: Whole lotta shove

2:35pm: Carmo having trouble getting in gear
Level 29 – Blinds 50,000/100,000 (BB ante 100,000)

Rodrigo Carmo is in the middle of a rough patch, it appears. He got involved in three of the last four hands at his table, but each of them ended with Carmo mucking his hand on the river after his opponent showed down something better.

In the first Carmo had raised under the gun and Mark Buckley called him from the big blind. Carmo c-bet the flop and was called, then they both checked down the next two streets as the board came nine-high. Buckley showed AQ, and it was good.

In the second Carmo defended his own big blind in a multi-way hand, called one postflop bet from preflop raiser Patrick Clarke, then mucked after Clarke showed 108 for third pair and it was good.

Wang then won a hand uncontested, after which Clarke raised to 200,000 from under the gun and Carmo (button) and Wang (big blind) both called.

The 76A flop was checked around to Clarke who bet 250,000 and only Carmo called. Clarke then checked the 10 turn and Carmo bet 750,000, and Clarke quickly called. Both then checked the Q river and when Clarke showed A10 for two pair, Carmo had to muck again.

Clarke is up to 5.63 million now, while Carmo is down to 3.375 million. –MH

2:30pm: Heath a shoving machine
Level 29 – Blinds 50,000/100,000 (BB ante 100,000)

“The first very good one,” smiled Ben Heath after he successfully shoved for a fourth time this level.

He was in second position and moved all-in for 1.58 million. Yet again, no one wanted to call him and he moved up to 1.83 million without having to show his AQ. –MC

2:27pm: Happy Hanna flipping well
Level 29 – Blinds 50,000/100,000 (BB ante 100,000)

Georges Hanna has doubled to 6.55 million after a button versus big blind cooler.

Piotr Nurzynski opened to 200,000 off the button and time-bank-called after Hanna three-bet all-in for 3.2 million from the big blind.

Hanna full of hope

Hanna: AK
Nurzynski: 1010

The board ran 96K45 to pair Hanna’s ace. Nurzynski dropped to 1.47 million. –MC

2:20pm: More Wang
Level 29 – Blinds 50,000/100,000 (BB ante 100,000)

Yet more power poker from Haoxiang Wang, who bombed the river and got Fabiano Kovalski off another hand. We will never know whether Wang wanted a call this time, but his solitary supporter cheered and clapped as Kovalski backed away.

The hand began with Wang raising to 200,000 from the button and Kovalski calling in the big blind. They then both checked the 69A flop. Kovalski also checked the 6 turn, but then had to decide whether to call Wang’s 225,000 delayed continuation bet. He did call.

The K completed the board and Kovalski checked again. Wang now moved in, covering the 2 million Kovalski had back. After watching most of his 30-second time allocation slip away, Kovalksi then slipped his cards to the dealer.

It’s all Wang. — HS

Hanging with Wang

2:15pm: Wang staying balanced
Level 29 – Blinds 50,000/100,000 (BB ante 100,000)

Haoxiang Wang has to stay balanced to keep his opponents guessing. He can just as easily turn up with a monster, like pocket kings, or just jack high, like in this hand.

Rodrigo Carmo opened to 200,000 off the button and Wang defended his big blind. The flop fell 6K9 and Wang check-called 150,000 before he led for 300,000 and 600,000 on the 4Q turn and river. Carmo called with pocket kings for top set, beating Wang’s bluffing J6. He rose to 5.6 million as Wang dropped to 9.1 million. –MC

2:10pm: Clarke picks off Carmo’s bluff
Level 29 – Blinds 50,000/100,000 (BB ante 100,000)

Patrick Clarke opened for 225,000 from the cutoff and Rodrigo Carmo called from the big blind. The flop fell A24 and Carmo checked. Clarke bet 175,000, and Carmo check-raised to 450,000. Clarke called.

The turn brought the K and a bet of 750,000 from Carmo, which Clarke didn’t hesitate calling. The 2 river slowed things down, though, with both players checking.

With some reluctance, Carmo showed his surely-not-good 75 to reveal he’d been bluffing, and Clarke tabled A4 for two pair to take the pot.

Clarke is up to 5.45 million after that one, Carmo down to 4.4 million. –MH

2pm: Tikerpe takes first hand back
Level 29 – Blinds 50,000/100,000 (BB ante 100,000)

Matthias Tikerpe got Level 29 off to a winning start for himself after making a pair on the river versus Patrick Clarke who paid him off.

Tikerpe raised to 200,000 off the button and Clarke peeled from the big blind. The flop fell 646 and Clarke check-called a 75,000 bet before the 2 turn was checked through.

Tikepre bet another 275,000 on the J river and Clarke time-bank-check-called only to muck upon seeing Tikerpe’s AJ. –MC

1:55pm: Play resumes, 12 remain (updated counts)
Level 29 – Blinds 50,000/100,000 (BB ante 100,000)

They are back in action. Look below for updated chip counts to start the new level. –MH

Name Country Chips
Haoxiang Wang China 10,055,000
Pedro Marques Portugal 8,320,000
Mark Buckley Ireland 6,005,000
Rodrigo Carmo Portugal 5,810,000
Piotr Nurzynski Poland 5,395,000
Patrick Clarke Ireland 4,855,000
Ognyan Dimov Bulgaria 4,630,000
John Juanda Indonesia 3,690,000
Georges Hanna Lebanon 3,100,000
Matthias Tikerpe Estonia 2,810,000
Fabiano Kovalski Brazil 2,360,000
Ben Heath UK 830,000


1:40pm: Break time

With 12 players left, they’re off on the first 20-minute break of the day. –MH

1:41pm: Hanna doubles back into contention
Level 28 – Blinds 40,000/80,000 (BB ante 80,000)

Georges Hanna is now back to 3.15 million after winning a flip against Ben Heath on the hand immediately after losing to John Juanda.

Heath was on the button and opened the action with a standard raise. He had A9. Hannah, in the small blind, found pocket sevens and moved in for 1.495 million.

Better news this time for Georges Hanna

When the decision came back to Heath, who had 2.14 million behind, he elected to call and they went to the races.

The 2K10 flop hit nobody, but gave Heath a lot of back-door outs. The 8 turn gave him even more. Heath now had 10 outs on the river. However, the Q was not one of them, and Hanna breathes again.

He is up to 3.15 million while Heath is in real danger with 805,000, or 10 big blinds. — HS

1:40pm: More strife for Kovalski
Level 28 – Blinds 40,000/80,000 (BB ante 80,000)

Another hit for Fabiano Kovalski, who will return from the first break with only about 2 million chips. This was another grim one, or so it seems, as he paid off Mark Buckley on the river.

Kovalski opened from early position pre-flop and Buckley, his neighbour, was the only called. They then saw a very safe seeming 273 flop. Kovalski checked and Buckley bet 175,000. Kovakski called.

They both then checked the 2 turn before the Q river fell. Kovalski checked again and then Buckley put 750,000 forward, a polarising river bet.

Kovalski used two time-bank chips before eventually calling, only to be shown the A9 for a flush. He couldn’t beat it and mucked.

There’s a tournament break now and we’ll have full chip counts for the remaining field very soon. — HS

Contemplating Kovalski

1:36pm: Juanda hits his over-pair, doubles.
Level 28 – Blinds 40,000/80,000 (BB ante 80,000)

John Juanda found AK UTG+1 and he open-pushed all-in for 1.845 million. It got all the way around to Georges Hanna in the big blind, who found QQ and obviously called from his covering stack.

John Juanda: Can’t lose in Catalonia

“Let’s see run-good Barcelona,” Juanda, the former champion, said as the cards were turned over. And boom, sure enough, the flop brought the JA7. The 2 turn changed nothing and neither did the 5 river.

Hanna was left with 1.5 million, while Juanda moved to 3.81 million. Juanda’s double is still on! — HS

Georges Hanna: Glum

1:35pm: Small one for the short stack
Level 28 – Blinds 40,000/80,000 (BB ante 80,000)

They all count, especially when you’re the short stack, as Matthias Tikerpe is at the outer table.

The big stacked Haoxiang Wang opened to 160,000 from under the gun and bet 125,000 on a 73A flop. Tikerpe defended his big blind and check-called the c-bet. The 105 turn and river were checked through and Tikerpe opened KJ. Wang mucked. –MC

1:30pm: Wang flies into tournament lead after huge double
Level 28 – Blinds 40,000/80,000 (BB ante 80,000)

Haoxiang Wang’s loosey-goosey level has just paid him off in the most spectacular fashion as he secured a monster double-up that puts him into the overall tournament lead.

This was lovely, especially in context of what has gone on before where Wang has been continuously putting his chips in from all positions and often has been raised out of things. But this time he had the goods and Fabiano Kovalski had a big enough hand to go with him.

It began with a raise to 160,000 from Patrick Clarke, under the gun, which was followed by a call from Kovalski one seat to his left. Action passed to Wang in the big blind and, as he’s done before, he squeezed it up to 600,000.

Clarke wanted to know how much Wang had and, learning it was about 5 million, opted to call the raise. And then Kovalski also wanted to know how much Wang had and, learning the same figure, he moved all-in with the covering stack.

Wang immediately called, which was enough to persuade Clarke that his interest was over. Wang clenched his fist in celebration when he showed his KK to Kovalski’s JJ.

Cards on their backs, and Wang reacts

Although it wasn’t yet fully certain — we’ve all seen premature celebrators punished — this wasn’t one of those times. The board ran 8483Q and that was a monster double (plus extras from Clarke).

Wang scores the double

Wang had 4.9 million in his stack, including that 600,000 three-bet, so he now has about 11 million. Kovalski will now need to rebuild from 3 million. — HS

1:25pm: Carmo drops back after Kovalski straightens him out
Level 28 – Blinds 40,000/80,000 (BB ante 80,000)

Rodrigo Carmo has dropped back to 5.4 million after his top pair couldn’t hold against the straight draw of chip leader Fabiano Kovalski.

Haoxiang Wang opened to 160,000 from under the gun and he was called by our two featured players. Kovalski bet 150,000 from the button on a 6109 flop when the action was checked to him, and he was only called by Carmo in the big blind. Carmo check-called another 550,000 on the 4 turn before the players checked the J river.

Carmo opened K10 but lost out to Kovalski who had got there on the river with J8. –MC

1:20pm: Jacks again for Dimov
Level 28 – Blinds 40,000/80,000 (BB ante 80,000)

Ognjan Dimov found JJ on the button and raised to 175,000. Pedro Marques decided his K5 was good enough for a call from the big blind and called to see the 64A flop. Marques checked and Dimov bet 130,000. Marques called.

So it was that they saw the 9 turn and Marques checked. Dimov continued with a 275,000 bet. And Marques called again.

They both then checked the 2 river and Dimov moved up to 4.8 million. — HS

1:15pm: Wang puts Kovalski in the squeeze
Level 28 – Blinds 40,000/80,000 (BB ante 80,000)

Not too many chips changed hands here, but it’s another pot that shows the dynamic of this intriguing outer table. The hand began with a raise to 175,000 from Fabiano Kovalski, who was under the gun. Mark Buckley called from one seat to his left and everyone folded around to Haoxiang Wang in the small blind.

Wang took 30 seconds to decide what to do, and handed over a time-bank card to give himself another 10. And that’s when he opted to push forward six 100,000 chips. Patrick Clarke folded his big blind, but Kovalski asked to see Wang’s stack. There was about 4.5 million there.

Kovalski, under the squeeze, folded. And Buckley did too. “That was an anticlimax,” a railbird said. The same railbird is a friend of Buckley and just brought him a stash of cough medicine. Buckley is one of about 60 percent of players and staff in Barcelona this week who have caught a vicious summer cold. The sound of coughs is louder than even the chirruping of chips here. — HS

1:10pm: My ace-high better than your ace-high
Level 28 – Blinds 40,000/80,000 (BB ante 80,000)

“You lost the minimum,” said Patrick Clarke to Matthias Tikerpe after a small pot with big hands.

Clarke opened to 160,000 from the hijack and Tikerpe called from the big blind. The board ran out 610696 with no chips going in until the river where Clarke led for 80,000 with AQ. Clarke flicked in a single chip to call and won with AK to move up to 5 million. Tikerpe dropped to 3.01 million. –MC

1:05pm: Carmo over Buckley
Level 28 – Blinds 40,000/80,000 (BB ante 80,000)

They’re certainly prepared to get their chips in today, and a hand just played out now principally between Mark Buckley and Rodrigo Carmo that ended with a swing to Carmo.

Fabiano Kovalski started it with a raise to 150,000 on the button. Buckley called in the small blind and Carmo called in the big.

The dealer put the 10A4 flop down and I think Buckley led (though I admit my attention shifted to some action on the feature table and missed the specific action). Either way, Carmo was in but Kovalski was not when the 6 fell on the turn. Buckley checked and Carmo bet 450,000. Buckley called.

The K completed the board and Buckley now led 525,000. Carmo called and Buckley showed his AQ. It was no good as Carmo showed A4.

Carmo now builds to 7 million, while Buckley sits with 5 million. — HS

Mo chips for Carmo

12:57pm: Danny Tang eliminated in 13th place (€88,250)
Level 28 – Blinds 40,000/80,000 (BB ante 80,000)

With about 1.75 million to start the hand, Danny Tang picked up A9 in the cutoff seat and raised to 165,000. It folded around to Pedro Marques in the big blind who had 103 and after he eyed what Tang had left he defended with a call.

The flop came 332, making trips for Marques, and he checked quickly. Tang checked behind, then the turn brought the 10. This time Marquis bet 375,000, and Tang took about 10 seconds before calling, leaving himself just under 1.2 million behind — just about the same as what was in the middle.

The 9 river completed the board, pairing Tang’s nine. Marques spent a time bank card as he took his time acting, then announced he was all in.

Here’s what Tang had to say after busting:

Tang quickly tossed all of his time bank cards forward, anticipating a long time in the tank. He studied the situation intently, looking at the board, across the table at Marques, and back at his cards as he did.

What to do, what to do, what to do…

Finally Tang made a decision — he called.

“I call.”

Alas for him, he saw the bad news right away, and said “GG, guys” before standing and departing on his way to cashing in 13th place.

“GG, guys.”

Marques bounces back to just over 9 million with that one. –MH

12:55pm: A Platinum Pass for birthday boy Alin Grasu

Winning a $30K Platinum Pass to the #PSPC is one thing. Winning it on your birthday is even better, as Alin Grasu discovered yesterday…

12:50pm: Clarke goes after Wang again, gets stung
Level 28 – Blinds 40,000/80,000 (BB ante 80,000)

The table were in chuckles and Fabiano Kovalski asked Patrick Clarke and Haoxiang Wang if they were having fun after they tangled once more.

Wang had opened to 160,000 off the button and called after Clarke three-bet to 550,000 out off the small blind. The flop spread 547 and Clarke continued for 475,000 only to snap fold when Wang slid in a big raise. The Irishman dropped to 4.775 million and Wang grew to 3.95 million. –MC

12:45pm: Dimov three-bet chases Nurzynski
Level 28 – Blinds 40,000/80,000 (BB ante 80,000)

Piotr Nurzynski raised to 175,000 from the hijack seat, Ognyan Dimov three-bet to 750,000 from the blinds with QQ, and Nurzynski had to let it go.

Dimov has just over 4 million, Nurzynski has a little less with about 3.9 million. –MH

12:40pm: Clarke vs. Wang again
Level 28 – Blinds 40,000/80,000 (BB ante 80,000)

Here’s another pot between Haoxiang Wang and Patrick Clarke with the latter again coming out on top. This one went further than the previous pre-flop raise, three-bet affairs. We got all the way to a showdown.

It started with an open to 165,000 from Wang in the cutoff and Clarke opted to call this time on the button. The blinds stepped aside and the two foes saw the A24 flop. They both checked it.

The turn was the 7 and Wang had a 300,000 tickle. Clarke called. Then the 3 brought a bet of 500,000 from Wang and Clarke called again.

Wang had only picked up something on the river with his Q7. Clarke’s A6 was still good though for a 1 million-plus pot. — HS

12:30pm: Sparks ahead of certain ignition
Level 28 – Blinds 40,000/80,000 (BB ante 80,000)

There’s no two ways about it, something is going to kick off between Haoxiang Wang and Patrick Clarke. In two back-to-back pots, with Wang in late position, he opened and was then nearly immediately three-bet from Clarke to his immediate left.

Wang has been playing incredibly aggressively over the past few days and is not scared at all to get his chips in. Clarke has laid down a marker today already, though, that there are going to be very few easy chips to pick up for Wang, and I’m predicting they’re heading for a big old muscle-flexing contest sooner rather than later.

Sparring partners: Haoxiang Wang and Patrick Clarke

The specifics: it was a 160,000 button open from Wang, three-bet to 450,000 from Clarke in the small blind. Then a 165,000 cutoff open from Wang was three-bet to 450,000 from Clarke on the button. Wang folded both times. — HS

12:27pm: Juanda shoves with kings, Marques folds
Level 28 – Blinds 40,000/80,000 (BB ante 80,000)

John Juanda just picked up pocket kings on the feature table — KK — and raised from the hijack to 170,000. Pedro Marques tried to three-bet to 450,000 from the cutoff with A4, but when it got back to Juanda he shoved and Marques got away.

Juanda is at 1.73 million, Marques 7.725 million. –MH

John Juanda on the feature table

12:25pm: Tikerpe holds strong, makes good call
Level 28 – Blinds 40,000/80,000 (BB ante 80,000)

With a river bet and call in front of you, it can be tough to call with second pair, medium kicker but Matthias Tikerpe managed to do that and rose to 4.175 million.

Fabiano Kovalski opened to 160,000 from under the gun and was called by Tikerpe (button) and Patrick Clarke in the big blind. All three checked the Q4K flop and 3 turn before Clarke led for 125,000 on the 3 river. He received two calls and opened A4. Kovalski showed tens but both lost to Tikerpe’s Q9.

Clarke dropped to 4.52 million and Kovalski to 8.3 million. –MC

12:22pm: Heath squeeze-shoves, gets it through
Level 28 – Blinds 40,000/80,000 (BB ante 80,000)

Pedro Marques opened to 175,000 from the button, having been dealt Q8. Piotr Nurzynski called from the small blind with 108, then Ben Heath announced he was pushing all in for 1.79 million from the big blind with KJ and the others folded.

After that squeeze, Heath has just over 2.2 million. –MH

Heath hanging on

12:20pm: Buckley adds to stack after picking up aces
Level 28 – Blinds 40,000/80,000 (BB ante 80,000)

Mark Buckley opened for 175,000 from under the gun and two opponents called — Matthias Tikerpe in the cutoff and Fabiano Kovalski in the big blind.

The flop came 256 and after Kovalski checked, Buckley continued for 235,000 with only Tikerpe staying in the hand. The 4 turn saw Buckley checking and Tikerpe betting 325,000, with Buckley making the call. Both players then checked the 10 river.

Buckley opened his hand to show AA and Tikerpe mucked. Buckley chips up to around 5.3 million while Tikerpe slips to 3.65 million. –MH

12:11pm: Dimov gets aces, and gets value from Marques
Level 28 – Blinds 40,000/80,000 (BB ante 80,000)

It folded around to Ognyan Dimov on the button who looked down at AA who raised to 175,000, and chip leader Pedro Marques defended his big blind with a call having been dealt 94.

The 574 and both players checked. The turn brought the 5. This time Marques led with a bet of 225,000, called by Dimov.

The river was the 5, making both players full houses though Dimov had the best with his aces. Marques continued with the initiative, betting 280,000 or just under one-third pot. Dimov studied a bit, then raised to 570,000.

Marques considered the board then stole a look across the table at Dimov who sat motionless. After spending a time bank card he eventually folded.

Marques has 8.39 million now, Dimov 3.86 million. –MH

12:10pm: Two pair good for winning start for Clarke
Level 28 – Blinds 40,000/80,000 (BB ante 80,000)

Patrick Clarke made two pair in a big blind versus button battle to get his day off to a winning start. Crucially, t was a better two pair than his opponent had.

Rodrigo Carmo opened the pot with a button raise to 160,000 and Clarke, one of two Irishman at the table, defended his big blind. Carmo continued for 100,000 on the A83 flop and Clarke check-called. The 3 turn was checked to the 6 river where Clarke checked and then snapped a 225,000 bet.

Carmo opened A5 but Clarke tabled a winning A6. –MC

Clarke off and running

12:06pm: Juanda draws first blood on feature table
Level 28 – Blinds 40,000/80,000 (BB ante 80,000)

In the first hand on the feature table, Ben Heath opened to 160,000 from the hijack seat with KQ and it folded to John Juanda in the big blind who had been dealt A5 and he called.

The flop came 975 and both checked, then the turn brought the 3. Juanda led for 250,000, and Heath let it go.

Both players remain short relative to the field, as Juanda has 2.15 million now, Heath 1.875 million. –MH

Tournament area Day 5

12:05pm: And they’re off
Level 28 – Blinds 40,000/80,000 (BB ante 80,000)

Play is now under way. We’ll be reporting live from the outer table and on a 30-minute delay from the feature table, in accordance with the live stream. So it will be a little weird, but we’ll get through it.

On the first hand of the day on the outer table, everyone folded to Mark Buckley on the button and he opened to 175,000. And then both players in the blinds–Rodrigo Carmo and Matthias Tikerpe–folded too. You don’t eff with the bee.– HS

11:55am: Let’s find our final six

Good morning all and welcome back to Barcelona for a day with a very simple plan. This is the penultimate day of the European Poker Tour (EPT) festival and we need to reduce the Main Event field to its final six. There’s no room for any whims from organisers or producers. We’re heading to the final.

The Main Event trophy awaits

That in itself will be a superlative, if inevitable, achievement. There were 1,931 entries to this tournament, each worth €5,000 apiece, and the prize pool is €9.36 million. All of the 13 remaining will take a minimum of €88,250 from their visit this week, but the winner will make €1,611,500. The big money is at the top end.

Here are our final 13 players, with two former EPT champions among them and an unprecedented three Portuguese speakers in the top three positions. Our friends from Lisbon and Brasilia are pondering a national holiday already.

EPT Barcelona Main Event Day 5 players

Name Country Chips
Pedro Marques Portugal 9,150,000
Fabiano Kovalski Brazil 8,745,000
Rodrigo Carmo Portugal 5,330,000
Matthias Tikerpe Estonia 5,200,000
Haoxiang Wang China 4,655,000
Mark Buckley Ireland 4,400,000
Georges Hanna Lebanon 3,770,000
Piotr Nurzynski Poland 3,570,000
Patrick Clarke Ireland 3,550,000
Ognyan Dimov Bulgaria 3,100,000
Danny Tang UK 2,435,000
Ben Heath UK 2,030,000
John Juanda Indonesia 1,988,000

The payout schedule is over there on the payouts page. And you can follow all the action on too.

Play is due to begin at noon, so get ready. It’s nearly upon us. — HS

Download the PokerStars LIVE! app with all tournament information. Available for IOS and Android.

PokerStars Blog reporting team on the €5,000 Main Event: Stephen Bartley, Marc Convey, Martin Harris and Howard Swains. Photography by Joe Giron/PokerPhotoArchive and Neil Stoddart.

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