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France’s Simon Wiciak ended up as the chip leader each of the last three days of the PokerStars European Poker Tour (EPT) Barcelona Main Event and had no plans of giving up those chips. He wound up with every chip in play after defeating João Sydenstricker heads-up to win the event for €1,134,375.
Wiciak, who is primarily an online grinder but recently switched his focus to live tournaments, bested the field of 2,120 runners for the golden trophy, his first major live poker title, and the career-best seven-figure score.
“I didn’t want to play the second bullet, because it’s my second bullet in this Main Event,” Wiciak told PokerNews in a winner’s interview. “But some of my stakers pushed me to do it again…so I did it again, and obviously, it was good event. I’m going to start playing more and more, live of course.”
The Frenchman struck a three-handed deal with Sydenstricker and Britain’s Carl Shaw that flattened the payouts, then the trio played on for the trophy and an additional €108,975 in prize money.
Also at the final table in the second-largest EPT Main Event (which came up short of surpassing last year’s record-breaking field of 2,294 runners) were Canada’s Santiago Plante (4th – €511,300), Argeninta’s Ezequiel Waigel (6th – €302,500) and Brazil’s Andre Akkari, a veteran PokerStars Team Pro who put on a short-stack clinic before bowing out in fifth place for €393,300.
2023 EPT Barcelona Main Event Final Table Results
|Place||Player||Country||Prize (in Euros)|
|3||Carl Shaw||United Kingdom||€901,070*|
*Denotes three-handed deal
“I Was Ready”
Anything less than a victory for Wiciak would have been unfitting in the EPT Barcelona Main Event. The 30-year-old ended Day 5 with the chip lead over his 15 remaining opponents and maintained the lead the next day as the field dwindled to six with the eliminations of the likes of Van Marcus and 2013 EPT London Champion Robin Ylitalo.
Wiciak kept the chip lead for most of Day 7 but gave it up during four-handed and three-handed play as Shaw and Sydenstricker pulled ahead.
“At three-handed, we were like even,” said Wiciak. “So it was not that easy. And for me, it was a lot of money, that’s why we actually took the deal. If it had been a lower pay jump, maybe I would have refused [in order] to play my edge. But with this amount of money, I didn’t refuse it.”
Once the deal had been made, Wiciak returned his focus to taking home the trophy despite starting to lose some pots when they got three-handed.
“You know that’s it’s not going to be easy, but I was ready,” he said.
With two Brazilians at the final table for the second year in a row, it was a raucous few hours in the main tournament room at Casino Barcelona. Thankfully for Wiciak, he had a deep rail of French supporters to cheer him on as he played with millions on the line.
“Some of my friends were in the club last night, eight hours driving, they just [left] the club, took some stuff with them, and drove eight hours to come here,” Wiciak said. “So, obviously, I’m really, really happy with all of this. And on top of that, I got to [have] a call with my dad, and I heard him crying for the first time. So it was amazing.”
Day 7 Action
As play got underway on Day 7, it wasn’t long before a player was at risk. Waigel three-bet jammed his short stack with ace-seven, only to find himself dominated by the Big Slick of Sydenstricker, and was eliminated amid a choir of Brazilian cheers after failing to get help from the board.
Fan favorite Akkari, who entered the final two days of play as the short stack, finally hit the rail when he got it in with a flopped flush draw and couldn’t improve, to be chopped up by Shaw and his fellow Brazilian.
Plante was the next player at risk as he found his suited queen-ten dominated by the ace-queen of Wiciak before a rivered flush kept him alive. Plante’s luck changed for the worse when he later found himself all in with pocket queens to dominate the queen-nine of Shaw, who flopped an open-ended straight draw before binking it on the turn to drain the life out of Plante.
Shortly after the three remaining players reached a deal, Shaw found his king-queen dominated by Wiciak’s ace-queen to go out in third place and give the Frenchman a formidable chip lead over Sydenstricker.
After a brief heads-up battle, Sydenstricker and Wiciak found themselves in a memorable final hand that began with an open from Sydenstricker with queen-ten offsuit and a three-bet from Wiciak with six-five of clubs. Wiciak continued on the nine-five-deuce rainbow flop as Sydenstricker floated and then took the betting lead on the four of spades turn. With just queen-high, Sydenstricker moved all in when the nine of hearts river paired the board and Wiciak went into the tank before making a big call with just a pair of fives to win the tournament.
“The [bet] sizing [on the turn] was really small,” said Wiciak. “He went like less than one-third of the pot. Pretty [big] sizing tell for me…I think every time seeing his hand, basically he bet big when he has it and he bet small when he does not, if I had to simplify it. So he bet really small on the turn.”
“The last information he gave for me is he didn’t put his hood on. I played with him for the last few days, he always put his hoodie on, he’s really relaxed when he had trips against queens. He was stuck, didn’t move a bit, so everything put together made me make this call.”
That wraps up the PokerNews live reporting team’s coverage of the EPT Barcelona Main Event here on the Mediterranean Coast. Be sure to check out the EPT Barcelona live reporting hub for coverage of other events.