Lucien Cohen wins €676,230 for taking down the ESPT Barcelona Main Event
“The Ratman” is an intriguing nickname.
On the surface, it’s not complimentary (“Does the man act like a rat? Or does the man look like a rat?!”) and yet for French player Lucien Cohen, it’s entirely fitting.
The 59-year-old from Paris owns a successful pest control company and fully embraces the Ratman persona. In 2011, he became known for bringing a plastic rat to the poker tables to use as his card protector, often dancing and singing whether he was in a hand or not. It was then that Cohen etched his name into the European Poker Tour (EPT) history books, winning the Deauville Main Event for €880,000.
The Ratman, sans rat toy, was back on another huge final table today. The ESPT Barcelona leg of the Estrellas Poker Tour is always enormous, but this year’s event exceeded all expectations. When registration came to a close after eight starting flights, a whopping 7,398 entries had been recorded, making this the biggest PokerStars-sponsored live event in terms of field size in history.
And for the second time in his life, Cohen exterminated everyone in an enormous PokerStars event en route to winning the €676,230 top prize. He enjoyed a surge up the counts when he scored a double knockout with three tables remaining, and today he entered the final table as both the chip leader and the most accomplished player remaining.
Honestly, it was never in doubt.
This tournament began all the way back on Monday, August 21, when Day 1A kicked off proceedings. Seven more Day 1’s followed before the field combined for Friday’s Day 2.
The PokerStars live stream picked up the action on Day 4 and thousands tuned in to see PokerStars Team Pro Parker “Tonkaaaa” Talbot enjoy yet another deep run in a huge live event, having made two EPT final tables in recent years on his hunt for a maiden live title. It wasn’t to be, though, as Talbot was the final table bubble boy, eliminated in seventh for €105,590.
COHEN’S EXTERMINATION BEGINS
While Cohen began with the chip lead, at the other end of the chip counts was Israel’s Avihai Smadga. He had the toughest task of the final six, entering the final table at the short stack, and he shoved on the third hand of the day when he picked up a pretty-looking A♥ 8♥ in the cutoff. Ferdinando D’Alessio found a dominating ace (A♠ Q♣ ) in the small blind and made the call, then hit a queen on the flop, good enough to take it down.
Smadga left with €136,850 and said he was going to enjoy an hour-long nap before jumping into the Main Event.
Cohen, meanwhile, continued to smash boards at will while simultaneously strutting and dancing his way around the table (seriously, midway through hands), just as he did back in 2011. The “Ratman” was back, albeit without the toy rat.
Ankit Ahuja was the first from the final table to fall to Cohen. Following a huge pot in which Cohen goaded the India-born Isle of Man resident into making a big hero call with the worst of it (Cohen had rivered a flush against Ahuja’s second pair), Ahuja was left as the shortest stack and he just about jammed with A♣ 6♦ on the button.
Cohen – as he so often did today – picked up a strong hand at the right time and called with pocket sevens, before betting in the dark for the rest of Ahuja’s stack. Despite some straight sweats on the flop, the board ran out clean for the Frenchmen and he extended his lead. Ahuja, meanwhile, picked up €177,810 for fifth.
TWO FALL FAST
Danilo Velasevic was Cohen’s next victim, as the Frenchman’s impeccable timing continued. Velasevic picked up A♦ 6♣ in the small blind and with the shortest stack, the Serbian pro understandably shoved. Cohen looked down at pocket eights in the big blind and made the call for less than a fifth of his stack, and you know where this going.
Velasevic, fresh off a career-high score at a recent Triton event in London, continues to put up fantastic results, having only recently graduated to the big high-stakes events. He earned €232,090 for his efforts.
“He’s funny, poker loves him,” Velasevic said of Cohen in his post-bust interview. “I don’t mind it, I’m happy to play with him.”
With that, Cohen had more than double the chips of his nearest competitor. And it didn’t take long for the Ratman to claim another victim.
It folded to Cohen in the small blind and he raised with 10♦ 2♦ , which Petros Karadimos of Greece called from the big. The 3♦ Q♥ 9♠ flopped favoured Karadimos and he called a 5 million c-bet to see the 8♣ on the turn.
Having picked up a gutshot, Cohen slowed down and check-called a bet of 4 million. He smashed his gazillionth river of the day when the J♦ landed on the river to complete his straight and quickly set Karadimos all in for his remaining 13 million.
“My friend, my friend…” crooned Cohen, dancing while Karadimos deliberated. He ultimately made a quick call with his top pair, but saw the bad news. Karadimos was all smiles as he picked up €294,620.
The one-man wrecking crew of Cohen now had a 4:1 chip lead heading into heads-up play, but D’Alessio – a 35-year-old recreational player from Belgium who has been playing for more than a decade – found a double to make it more competitive.
But no amount of skill was going to be enough to beat Cohen today.
In the final hand, Cohen opened with K♦ 8♣ and D’Alessio defended with a dominated K♠ 4♦ . The flop came king-high and D’Alessio check-shoved over Cohen’s c-bet. The Ratman gave it some thought before making the correct call.
Just as he does at work, Cohen immediately eradicated any pesky chop outs D’Alessio had as an eight hit the turn to leave him drawing thin. The river was no help, and the title was Cohen’s.
ESPT Barcelona 2023 €1,100 Main Event
Dates: August 21-28, 2023
Entries: 7,398 (inc. 4,107 re-entries)
Prize pool: €7,102,080
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