Simon Wiciak ended Day 4 of the PokerStars European Poker Tour (EPT) Barcelona Main Event as the chip leader. He was still atop the leaderboard at the end of Day 5. And the Frenchman remains the man to beat as only six players remain to chase the trophy after an action-packed Day 6.
Wiciak ended the night with 22,875,000 and the chip lead for the third consecutive day over the remaining six players who are all that’s left from the once-massive field of 2,120. Wiciak, who had just over $100,000 in total live earnings before the event, is already guaranteed £302,500 but will have his eye on the €1,488,000 top prize when the final table resumes on Sunday.
2023 EPT Barcelona Main Event Final Six Chip Counts
Chasing him is Carl Shaw, who was on the fortunate end of the biggest pot of the tournament on Day 6 that helped propel him to 17,400,000 by the end of the night. Shaw busted Daniyar Aubakirov with the nut straight against a set, then eliminated Curtis Knight in seventh place to end the day. The Englishman already has a WSOP bracelet and made the final table of the Irish Open in April.
Wiciak and Shaw combined hold more than 63 percent of the total chips in play. Santiago Plante (7,500,000), Joao Sydenstricker (6,150,000), and Ezequiel Waigel (5,150,000) will have to try to track them down tomorrow.
Then there’s PokerStars Team pro Andre Akkari, who has been the event’s ultimate survivor over the last three days, winning numerous all-ins and nursing a short stack most of the time. The Brazilian superstar, cheered on by a raucous rail, finds himself at the bottom of the leaderboard once again with 4,500,000.
Day 6 Action
Day 6 began with 16 players looking to secure their spot in the final six. Mircea Flutur, who won his entry into this event in an online qualifier, was the first elimination and took home €63,250 for his 16th-place finish.
Van Marcus, who earlier ran kings into Plante’s aces, busted in 15th. Then came a pot that swung the momentum of the day. Shaw and Aubakirov built a pot of more than 17,000,000 as Aubakirov was all in with a set but Shaw had a flopped straight. The board failed to pair on the river and Shaw raked in the massive pot, boosting his stack past 19,000,000 and into the chip lead.
Oshri Lahmani (13th), Mohamad El Rais (12th), and Markku Koplimaa (11th) followed to the rail. Plante then made trip threes to bust Jose Rodriguez Zurita in 10th place, setting up the nine-handed unofficial final table.
Sydenstricker donned a V for Vendetta mask at the final table, hoping for a miracle to augment his short stack. He found it right away. Sydenstricker was all in with king-jack but ran right into Plante’s pocket kings. The flop gave him flush and straight draws as his Brazilian rail pleaded for help. None arrived on the turn, but a queen on the river gave him a straight and kept him in the tournament (although, after a visit from a tournament official, he was forced to ditch the mask).
Final Nine Underway
The final nine played for nearly three hours until Mihai Niste jammed with ace-ten into the sixes of Shaw and couldn’t win the race. Robin Ylitalo, champion of EPT London nearly a decade ago, then moved all in on the river with just king-high and Wiciak snap-called with a straight to end Ylitalo’s hopes for a second title.
Knight was the last player who couldn’t survive the day, snap-calling from the big blind with tens when Shaw shoved from the small blind with jack-ten. A lucky jack on the flop left Knight looking for a single out to stay alive, but no miracles came on the turn and river to bring Day 6 to a close.
Akkari Chases an Elusive Title
Wiciak and Shaw hold most of the chips, but it’s Akkari who took the spotlight at the final table. Akkari first cashed in an EPT event more than 15 years ago. He’s one spot away from matching his fifth-place finish from EPT Barcelona in 2017. But first, he needed some magic to happen on Day 6.
Akkari had fewer than 10 big blinds at the start of the day. On one of the first hands, he found pocket queens and tripled up against Knight’s tens and Wiciak’s sevens. He then won a race with tens against Niste’s ace-king at the final table.
Akkari showed an incredible survival instinct. Just when it seemed like his run was about to come to an end, he found the cards he needed to stay alive. After Plante hit a flush on the river to double up, Akkari made his own flush to double against Wiciak. He then hit a running flush and blasted Wiciak off the flopped straight.
An EPT title is all that’s missing from Akkari’s career resume which already includes a WSOP bracelet, an EPT final table, and more than $3,000,000 in live earnings. It seemed impossible when Akkari was in 32nd out of 32 to start Day 5, and improbable when he was 16th out of 16 when Day 6 began; but Akkari gave his rail something to celebrate today, and his hopes are still very much alive heading into the final six.
Final Table Payouts
Action picks up on Sunday at 12:30 p.m. CET, with 65 minutes remaining on Level 33, with blinds of 125,000-250,000 and a 250,000 big blind ante. The final table will be streamed by PokerStars TV on a 30-minute delay on YouTube. PokerNews will be providing all the action until just one champion remains.