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Simon Wiciak has won the 2023 European Poker Tour Barcelona €5,300 buy-in no-limit hold’em main event. The 30-year-old from La Rochelle, France outlasted a 2,120-entry field to earn his first live tournament title and the top prize of $1,225,125.
While this was Wiciak’s debut victory on the live circuit, he is an experienced online player. It’s not always easy to transfer the skills honed behind a computer screen to a brick-and-mortar event.
“I have felt so many emotions. Even if I looked in control and confident in my plays, I am still a human,” Wiciak told PokerStars reporters after coming out on top. “And this was the first time I played an EPT main event.”
Wiciak had just over $100,000 in prior live earnings to his name from 12 in-the-money finishes, with his largest previous payout being $44,700 earned for a 344th-place showing in this year’s World Series of Poker main event. Now, he is an EPT champion and a poker-made millionaire.
“It is everything at the same time – the win, the crew, the moment, the work I have done,” said Wiciak. “You want to scream!”
In addition to the title and the money, Wiciak was also awarded 2,160 Card Player Player of the Year points for his title run in Spain. This was his second final-table finish of the year, having placed sixth in a $600 buy-in this summer at the Aria Poker Classic in Las Vegas. With 2,300 total points and $1,235,933 in to-date POY earnings, Wiciak now sits just outside the top 100 in the 2023 POY standings presented by Global Poker.
This event drew the second-largest field in EPT history, trailing only the 2022 running of this same event, which attracted 2,294 entries. The massive turnout at the Casino Barcelona resulted in a final prize pool of $11,112,786 which was ultimately paid out among the top 303 finishers.
This tournament ran over the course of eight days from Aug. 27 through Sept. 3. Just 438 players moved on to day 2 from the two starting flights, with late registration still open through the start of the first day of combined-field play. A total of 67 players availed themself of that option, bringing the final total to 2,120. By the end of day 2, the field was narrowed to just 303 hopefuls. It took another four days to whittle that number down to six contenders for the final day. Notables that ran deep included EPT champion and high-stakes regular Patrik Antonius (54th), bracelet winner and WPT Prime Championship winner Stephen Song (47th), bracelet winner Ka Kwan Lau (31st), Thomas Boivin (25th), and 2013 EPT London champion Robin Ylitalo (8th).
Wiciak ended each of the three days leading up to the final table atop the chip counts. He sat with 92 big blinds when cards got in the air for the final six. 2021 Card Player Poker Tour Venetian main event champion Ezequiel Waigel was the first to fall. The Argentinian ran A-7 into the A-K of Brazil’s Joao Sydenstricker to finish sixth for $326,700. Waigel now has nearly $1.8 million in recorded earnings after this latest strong showing.
PokerStars Ambassador Andre Akkari got the last of his chips in with a flush draw facing the top pairs of both Sydenstricker and Carl Shaw. The board brought running jacks after the chips went in on the flop, missing Akkari’s flush draw and giving his two opponents both jacks full of kings. The bracelet winner from Brazil earned $424,764 for his fifth-place showing, growing his career earnings to more than $3.3 million in the process.
Canada’s Santiago Plante limped in with QQ from the small blind and snap-called when Shaw shoved from the big blind with Q9. The board came down J1010KJ and Shaw made a king-high straight to crack Plante’s pocket queens. Plante earned $552,204 as the fourth-place finisher.
After a bit of three-handed action, the remaining players hashed out a deal to redistribute the remaining prize money. Shaw locked up at least $973,156, while Wiciak ($1,107,432) and Sydenstricker ($1,132,439) ensured themselves seven-figure paydays. The trio left $117,693 and the title to play for.
Shaw ran K-Q into the A-Q of Wiciak to finish third, taking home the sum he negotiated for in the deal. This was the largest score yet for the bracelet winner from the UK, and it increased his lifetime earnings to more than $2.2 million.
Heads-up play began with Wiciak holding 38.3 million to Sydenstricker’s 25.3 million. The lead changed hands a couple of times, but Wiciak had moved back in front in time for the final hand of the tournament. Sydenstricker raised on the button with Q10 and Wiciak three-bet holding 65. Sydenstricker called and the flop came down 952. Wiciak bet with his second pair and Sydenstricker called with his two overs and backdoor straight possibilities. The 4 drew a check from Wiciak. Sydenstricker bet 3,500,000 in the pot of 14,400,000 and Wiciak called. The 9 paired the board and Wiciak checked again. Sydenstricker moved all-in for 19,380,000. Wiciak had 22,800,000. He went into the tank for a few minutes before announcing a call to win the pot and the title.
Here is a look at the payouts and POY points awarded on the final day:
Photo credits: Manuel Kovsca / Rational Intellectual Holdings Ltd.