Rare is it that you see someone dominate a poker tournament in the manner that France’s Simon Wiciak did in Barcelona. Wiciak took the lead of the 2023 European Poker Tour Barcelona Main Event on Day Four and, save for a couple of moments on the penultimate day and during the final table, was never out of the lead, taking the tournament in a thrashing fashion. In picking up his first major title on any circuit after defeating Joao Sydenstricker, Wiciak pocketed a €1.1 million-plus payday after a negotiated deal.
Six Men Standing at the Start
There were six men on the felt for the start of action on Sunday, all guaranteed a decent €302,500 for their efforts. Wiciak, with his 22.875 million in chips, was comfortably ahead of Carl Shaw (17.4 million), and both men could relax a bit from their pursuers. Santiago Plante (7.5 million), Sydenstricker (6.15 million), Ezequiel Waigel (5.15 million), and a short-stacked Andre Akkari (4.5 million) were going to have to decide for themselves who was going to challenge the “big two,” and they went to work quickly.
Akkari tried to double through Wiciak, but both men held an A-J off suit and nothing came from the clash. The early action, though, was mostly highlighted by aggressive yet restrained play – a few three-bets on certain occasions were enough to get people to lay down their hands. It would take about thirty minutes for the first elimination to occur, and it came between two of those smaller stacks.
Sydenstricker would open the wagering to 525K from the button, only to see Waigel move all in from the big blind for nearly five million in chips. After getting the official count from the dealer (4.75 million), Sydenstricker made the call, and the cards were turned up:
Waigel: A-7 off suit
Sydenstricker: A-K off suit
Sydenstricker was dominating in the hand and the nine high board brought no seven that would change the situation. With that victory, Sydenstricker cast himself into the third place slot with 14.58 million in chips while Waigel went to collect his sixth-place money.
Akkari had been battling off the short stack for what seemed like an eternity, and it eventually caught up with him. After seeing Shaw open from the cutoff for 600K, Sydenstricker and Akkari made the call out of the blinds to see a Jx K♥ 9♥ flop. Sydenstricker, first to act, checked his option, but Akkari was doing no such thing. He fired a bet of 875K, and Shaw popped the pot for another two million. Sydenstricker called and Akkari, thinking this was his time, moved all in for 2.2 million and both of his opponents called.
On a Jack turn that paired the board, Sydenstricker didn’t slow down in firing a bet that Shaw called. A THIRD Jack would hit the river, leaving the door wide open for a boat, and both Sydenstricker and Shaw issued 300K bets. First up was Sydenstricker, who showed a K-Q for a full house, Jacks over Kings, and Shaw would show a similar K-Q for the same hand to split the pot. Akkari, unfortunately, had missed his flush draw with his 4♥ 3♥ to end his stay at the EPT Barcelona.
A Knockout and a Three-Way Deal
With four players left it was Plante who was the short stack and, try as he might, it wasn’t in the cards for the Canadian. He got his final 4.15 million into the center in great shape pre-flop, holding pocket Queens against Shaw’s Q-9 off suit. The flop didn’t agree with Plante, however, coming down 10-J-10, and the turn King delivered the straight for Shaw. Needing a lot of help from the board (the case Queen for the win or an Ace or nine to split the pot), another Jack came on the river to end his tournament in fourth place.
The final three – Sydenstricker, who had pulled into the lead, Wiciak, and Shaw – shuffled chips around for a bit before taking a break to discuss a potential deal. Those discussions proved to be fruitful, as they broke down the remaining money in this manner:
The trio did leave slightly more than €108,000 on the table as well as the EPT Main Event trophy, and the men went back to work.
Shaw was the first to go, running a K-Q up against Wiciak’s A-Q that started well (flopping a King) before ending horribly (river Ace to Wiciak). In heads-up play, Sydenstricker would take the lead early on before Wiciak came back to take a three million chip lead. On the final hand, Wiciak would flop a five with his 6-5 to bypass Sydenstricker’s Q-10, then fielded an all-in bluff out of Sydenstricker when Wiciak made two pair on the river (completing the board of 9-5-2-4-9) to capture the championship.
1. Simon Wiciak (France), €1,134,375*
2. Joao Sydenstricker (Brazil), €1,048,550*
3. Carl Shaw (United Kingdom), €901,070*
4. Santiago Plante (Canada), €511,300
5. Andre Akkari (Brazil), €393,300
6. Ezequiel Waigel (Argentina), €302,500
7. Curtis Knight (Canada), €232,700**
8. Robin Ylitalo (Sweden), €179,000 **
(* – denotes three-way deal)
(** – part of official EPT final table, eliminated on Saturday night)