Yesterday Joao Barbosa was 25-years-old and one of the hottest rising stars on the European Poker Tour. Today Joao Barbosa is 26-years-old and €367,141 richer. On the day he celebrated his birthday, the kid from Porto, Portugal, also underlined his serious talent. Barbosa's EPT record now reads: one title and two other cashes from four events played. Here is our Best Newcomer-elect.
Barbosa out-gunned one of the highest-quality final tables in recent memory, featuring the reigning EPT Prague champion Arnaud Mattern and the Team PokerStars Pro Dario Minieri. Minieri and Barbosa had previous. They tangled in one of the most spectacular pots of the tournament late on day two, when Minieri called a massive bluff from Barbosa with second pair, which was good against the Portuguese's seven-high. But Barbosa earned his revenge today, dispatching Minieri in third place with pocket nines to the Italian's sevens.
That left Barbosa to do battle with Nico Behling, another young player rapidly making a name for himself on the poker circuit. The German made the final table of the Aussie Millions earlier this year and is now the nearly man of EPT Warsaw. Behling scaled the heights of a monstrous chip lead mid-way through the final table, ousting Ludovic Lacay, whose aces lost to a set of eights in the German's hands. And although he took a huge hit later on, his set of sixes no good against Minieri's straight, he was even in chips when they went down to two.
But Barbosa had the run of it heads up, picking off the bluffs and rarely getting caught with his own. After doubling up once, and a couple of dramatic split pots, Behling was all in with J-7, but Barbosa's A-10 was not to be outdrawn. Behling has €205,270 with which to soothe his wounds. Barbosa has more than 360,000 reasons not to forget his 26th birthday.
How we got down to three was a familiar tale of brutal aggression sprinkled with suck outs. The short-stacked Michael Muheim was first out, running into Sergey Shcherbatskiy's cheekily-played aces. Muheim's A-9 never caught up and the PokerStars qualifier took €21,114 for ninth. Lacay's aces weren't quite so lucky, running into a set of eights as described earlier. And then Andrea Benelli's day was ended by his friend and countryman Minieri. That was an A-Qh v J-J affair, the flush turning for Minieri.
Shcherbatskiy was next to go, forced back to the Urals by Barbosa, whose pocket queens were better than Shcherbatskiy's A-5. Still, the €57,475 prize for sixth represented a massive spin up on his $7.50 buy-in to a step one tournament on PokerStars.
After that it all got a little grim, for Mattern and another PokerStars qualifier, Atanas Gueorguiev, in particular. "Three-outered and then two-outered," muttered Mattern as he went to the cage for his fifth-placed money, referring to two outdraws -- A-K beaten by A-8 and pocket 10s undone by eights. It was arguably even worse for Gueorguiev, who got it in good on a king-high flop with ace-king. But Barbosa, way behind with K-Q hit the magic queen on the river. He made €87,973 for fourth, another PokerStars qualifier in the money.
And that, really, was that. We wondered if might be the first two-time champion. We wondered whether Dario Minieri might take his first EPT crown. We wondered if a PokerStars qualifier might win another major tournament having qualified online for peanuts. In the event, we got none of those things. But we did get another terrific final table and another hugely talented winner. Congratulations Mr Barbosa, and happy birthday.
11.20pm: Joao Barbosa wins the EPT Warsaw and €367,141. Details to follow...
11.20pm: Nico Behling of Germany, eliminated in second place for €205,270
The last hand came from out of nowhere, a 60,000 bet from Behling pre-flop, re-raised to 200,000 by Barbosa before Behling said “all-in”. That made Barbosa bounce back in his chair, composing himself enough to call, showing Ah-Th to Behling’s Js-7s. The flop hit both hands, 7c-As-3h. The turn 6h gave Barbosa more outs and the 6d made that irrelevant. A new EPT Warsaw champion is crowned, his name is Joao Barbosa.
11.10pm: This is it!
Some people aren’t surprised. An all-in, called, a defining hand that would swing the momentum one way or end it the other. As-Jh for Behling, Ac-9h for Barbosa, behind but safe on a split pot board of Qc-3h-4s-Ah-3s.
11.02pm: Pre-flop action
A couple of big bets have been enough to see off the other. Then a big pot developed pre-flop. A Behling bet of 60,000 from the button, re-raised by Barbosa to 170,000. Behling thinks but mucks.
A pot to sum up the current stalemate. Checking all the way to the river on a board of 7c-Td-3h-7h-7d. Behling bet 60,000 and Barbosa called. Each showed an ace and a kicker lower than a ten for a split pot.
10.35pm: All-in called
Ten hands, mostly folds pre-flop, all-ins not called. Then an all-in called, all the chips in the middle with Barbosa showing pocket sixes to Behling’s Q-9 which on the flop finds another nine to see him double up.
10.15pm: Chip counts
Joao Barbosa -- 1,794,000
Nico Behling -- 376,000
10pm: Grinding away
The very slow progress continues, with Nico Behling taking a series of small pots and Joao Barbosa taking the only notable offering. Behling made it 51,000 pre-flop and Barbosa called. The flop came 5d-5s-6s and Barbosa sprang into action, betting 65,000. Behling called. Barbosa bet 130,000 at the 7s turn and Behling gave it up.
9.48pm: Big pot for Barbosa
On a flop of 7s-8s-6s Barbosa made it 70,000 which Behling called, adding to the pile of yellow chips already in the pot. The turn comes 9c which Barbosa bets at, 165,000 total. A long pause follows but Behling can’t bring himself to call.
9.39pm: A quick all-in
A bet of 50,000 by Behling pre-flop, raised by Barbosa to 140,000. Behling then announced he was all-in. Barbosa got out of the way.
Latest update 9.32pm
9.32pm: Another swing to Barbosa
In a change from the advertised programme, Behling bets 60K pre-flop rather than the expected 44,000. What’s more it’s called by Barbosa. We have a hand to report. On the flop of Kd-7s-8h Behling checks to Barbosa who makes it 75,000 to go. Behling then raises, two tall towers of yellow chips worth 200,000. Barbosa counters that by moving all-in, forcing a fold from the German.
Barbosa – 1,670,000
Behling – 500,000
9.12pm: Current chip counts
Nico Behling -- 740,000
Joao Barbosa -- 1,430,000
9.10pm: Barbosa the bully
Joao Barbosa takes a small pot, raising pre-flop to 44,000, which is called by Behling.The flop is 7h-5s-7h and both players check. The turn is 10h and Behling bets 45,000. Barbosa thinks a while but then raises, making it 190,000. Behling folds.
9.06pm: Coming back
Behling has begun to claw some chips back, from 600K to 730K to 790K. He now has roughly 830K after some smallish pots. That puts Barbosa on around 1,470,000.
9pm: Behling takes one down
Nico Behling just took down a small pot, betting all the way, including pre-flop, on a flushing (hearts) ace-high board. Barbosa got out the way at the turn.
8.50pm: No major moves
A lot of pre-flop betting and folding. This hand is slightly different. Barbosa bets 44,000 in the standard way pre-flop before Behling raises to 120,000. The second Barbosa announces all-in Behling folds.
Approximate chip counts:
Behling – 600,000
Barbosa – 1,590,000
8.40pm: Heads up chip counts
Joao Barbosa: 1,240,000
Nico Behling: 950,000
8.35pm: Dario Minieri, Italy, Team PokerStars Pro eliminated in third place, earning €123,162
That's the end of the road for Dario Minieri. One hand after he gets a walk in the big blind but looks at pocket jacks, flipped in anguish, Joao Barbosa gives him the action he craved. Barbosa raises from the button, Minieri moves in over the top, his last 180,000 and Barbosa calls. The Portuguese has two black nines, Minieri has two black sevens and the flop helps neither. "Nice hand," says Dario as he shakes Barbosa's hand. "Nice to play with you, Dario," says Nico Behling and he offers his paw. Minieri departs, but it's a airly safe assumption that he'll be back.
8.30pm: Nothing drastic
Nico Behling wins a pot by virtue of re-raising Dario Minieri, making the Italian think for a while before folding. Another 80,000 to the German.
8.20pm: You win some, you lose some
Dario Minieri picks up the first two pots, first open raising from the button to take the blinds, then re-raising from the big blind after Nico Behling opens for 42,000. Minieri then gives Behling a walk in his big blind, before open raising again from the button. This time Jaoa Barbosa announces that he's all in and Minieri goes into his talking mode. Barbosa keeps schtum, refusing to confirm or deny that he'll show if Minieri folds. Then Minieri says, "OK, I have one more question. If I fold and show, will you show as well?" Barbosa nods his head and that's what they do: Minieri has A-3o and Barbosa pocket sixes.
Then we actually see two flops in a row, both between Minieri and Behling. Minieri calls Behling's pre-flop bet of 44,000 and they see 7h-3s-Qh. Behling takes this one with an 80,000 bet. Then the two players, in an unraised pot, see 5d-Ah-7s and Miniri bets 16,000, which is called. The 10d turns and Minieri this time shakes off Behling with a bet of 38,000.
8.15pm: Under way
Play finally restarts after an extra long dinner break.
8.10pm: Empty seats
Still no sign of the players. No, wait. They're here. We should be playing again within a few minutes.
7.55pm: Long dinner
Players were spotted in the bufet room about an hour ago, but are yet to return to the tournament area. We're expecting them imminently for the resumption in play.
Latest update: 6.40pm
6.40pm: Chip counts at the dinner break
Joao Barbosa -- 1,140,000
Dario Minieri -- 267,000
Nico Behling -- 707,000
6.38pm: End of the level
We've reached the dinner break. Play will resume in one hour.
6.30pm: Battle of the blinds
In a battle of the blinds between Joao Barbosa and Dario Minieri for a flop of 6h-5d-8c. Barbosa makes it 21,000 which Minieri raises to 78,000. Barbosa announces “all-in” and gets a pretty quick fold from Minieri as the dinner break approaches.
6.15pm: Behling bouncing back
In an unraised battle of the blinds, Dario Minieri and Nico Behling see a scary flop of Ah-10s-As. They both check it, then Minieri bets 14,000 on the 2c turn, which Behling calls. The river is the 7s and after Minieri checks, Behling bets 40,000 and Minieri calls. "Flush," says Behling and shows 9-4s. "Super good," says Minieri.
6.12pm: Behling all-in.
Barbosa made it 34,000 from the button pre-flop which was called by Behling for a flop of 8h-Ac-2c. Behling then led the betting, making it 45,000 which Barbosa called. Another bet, 60,000 this time from Behling on the 2d turn. Again Barbosa called, taking it to the river, a 6d. Now Behling moved all in, another 151,000. Barbosa was not long in calling, but was only able to show Js-8s to Behling’s Ad-9c, good to double him up.
6.05pm: Three-handed chip counts
Joao Barbosa - 1,620,000
Dario Minieri - 320,000
Nico Behling - 275,000
5.55pm: I think the word is "sick"
Atanas Gueorguiev, PokerStars qualifier from Bulgaria, eliminated in fourth place earning €87,973
Joao Barbosa is on a hot streak and when you're hot, you're hot. Atanas Gueorguiev raises from one off the button and Barbosa flat calls. The flop comes 3c-4s-Kd and Barbosa tickles 35,000 at it. Gueorguiev doesn't hang around before announcing that he's all in and Barbosa is equally sharp in calling. Gueorguiev's A-K is miles ahead of Barbosa's K-Q and the 9h on the turn doesn't change that. But there are two outs left in the deck and one of the queens - hearts, for the record - rivers to send the final PokerStars qualifier in the field back to Sofia. He'll take €87,973 - and one shocking bad-beat story with him.
5.52pm: Arnaud Mattern of France, eliminated in fifth place for €72,724.
It started with a 36K Arnaud Mattern bet from the small blind but the hand finished with his elimination, ending hopes of a first double-winner. Barbosa then raised, 92K total and it wasn’t long before the chip were in the middle. Eights for Barbosa, tens for Mattern. The flop missed both but Barbosa caught an eight on the turn, doing well to suppress a huge cry of relief. Mattern had his coat though and was soon on the rail.