Belarus poker pro Ihar Soika topped all of his previous live tournament winnings combined this week when he claimed the Euro 747,200 first prize in the Euro 10,300 buy-in European Poker Tour Barcelona despite starting the final day fourth in chips out of the final 21 players.
393 hopefuls bought in for the event, which after several days of tough, competitive poker distilled to a truly international final table of Soika (holding a significant chip lead), Jason Mercier, Ismail Erkenov, Ami Barer, Benjamin Pollak, Marc-Andre Ladouceur, Stephen Chidwick and Carlos Chadha.
Soika maintained his skilled and aggressive drive through the final table, and when Ismail Erkenov went out at third, the Belarus pro still held the lead as he faced his last, and formidable, foe in the highly experienced Jason Mercier.
Despite a competitive response from Mercier, Soika was just unstoppable and he dispatched his last opponent with the runner up prize of Euro 473,500.
Six-figure prizes extended all the way down to the seventh finisher in the event.
In the NLHE main event of this historic one hundredth EPT, a field of 1,496 players anted up Euro 5,300 apiece to create a Euro 7,480,000 prize pool.
It took 7 days to play down to a winner – 27-year-old German pro Andre Lettau, who took home the first prize of Euro $1,045,913 after entering the final table around fifth in chip stacks and agreeing a three-way chop in the final stages of the game with Sam Phillips and Hossein Ensan that left Euro 90,000 on the table for the winner.
Ensan went on to depart at third for Euro 859,677, leaving Phillips and Lettau to fight for the extra money, with the German holding a 5 to 1 lead after Phillips suffered several major setbacks that hammered his chip stack mercilessly.
Despite his huge chip disadvantage, Phillips put up an admirably hard fight, and the heads up took almost six hours and over 140 hands to produce a result, with the lead changing hands several times.
In the end it was the German who emerged victorious from the very evenly-matched duo, leaving Phillips with a consolatory runner up reward of Euro $1,345,198.