Tom "hitthehole" Middleton Wins PokerStars EPT Barcelona Main Event for €942,000
After an intense week of poker action in Spain, a winner finally emerged in the Season 10 European Poker Tour Barcelona Main Event, which originally began with 1,234 players. On Saturday, the final eight players returned to battle down to a champion, and after nearly five 90-minute levels of play the last man standing was Tom “hitthehole” Middleton, who took home €942,000, the trophy, and a SLYDE watch for the victory. Amazingly, Middleton finished as the chip leader every day since Day 3.
Final Table Results
*Denotes heads-up deal.
The first elimination of the day occurred on Hand #17 of the final table (Level 32: 80,000/160,000/20,000) when Kresten Nielsen opened for 335,000 from the hijack with the and Cyprus' Andreas Christoforou moved all in for 1.65 million on the button holding the . Kimmo Kurko then looked down at the in the small blind and moved all in over the top for 2.985 million. Christoforou immediately got up out of his seat while Nielsen considered the action. He seemed a bit tortured as he sat in the tank, and eventually he released his pocket pair.
"Don't say what you folded," Christoforou requested when the cards were tabled. According to the PokerNews Odds Calculator, Kurko was a 64.66% favorite while Christoforou would survive 33.68% of the time. The flop extended Kurko to a 71.52% favorite while dropping Christoforou's chances to 25.86%. The turn knocked it down even further to 15.91%, which meant he needed either an ace or king on the river to stay alive. Unfortunately for him, it wasn't in the cards as the peeled off. Christoforou became the day's first elimination and took home €102,430 for his eighth-place finish.
After the Netherlands’ Eduard Bhaggoe lost a race to fall in seventh place and France’s Benoit Gury followed him out the door in sixth place, the first of the two Finns at the table fell.
It happened in Level 33 (100,000/200,000/30,000) when Pasi Sormunen opened from early position with the only to face a three-bet from Luca Fiorini, who picked up the in the small blind. Sormunen thought long and hard before announcing that he was all in for 4.72 million and he was snap-called by Fiorini.
Sormunen knew he was in trouble even before the cards were tabled, and indeed it was a bad spot. That said, the flop made things extremely interesting as Sormunen picked up a flush draw. The turn was a miss, meaning he had 12 outs he could hit on the river. The dealer burned one last time and put out the . The lady was no help to the Finn and he exited the tournament in fifth place for €253,000.
With four remaining, Fiorini was the chip leader and a deal was discussed. It seemed they were close to an agreement, but eventually negotiations fell through and play resumed. Within a half hour, Fiorini was out in fourth. He was crippled after missing a straight flush draw and finished off a short time later in Level 34 (120,000/240,000/30,000) by Middleton.
Not long after, Nielsen raised from the small blind holding the and Kurko defended from the big with the . The flop was gin for Kurko as he received a straight, which was considerably bad news for Nielsen and his top pair. The man from Denmark was first to act and led out for 635,000, which prompted Kurko to raise to 1.41 million.
Nielsen immediately announced a raise to 3.325 million and then snap-called off when Kurko moved all in. Nielsen slapped down his cards and seemed surprised to see Kurko table a straight. The turn actually kept Nielsen in the running as a five or eight on the river would give him a full house, but it was not meant to be as the peeled off. Nielsen hit the rail in third place for €440,500.
Middleton and Kurko then struck a bit of a deal prior to heads-up play, which they’d begin fairly close in chips. The winner of the tournament was originally supposed to take home €1,067,000 and the runner up €625,000, but the two agreed that the winner would instead take home €942,000 and the runner up €750,000.
The battle last for quite a while, but most of that time it was Middleton whittling away at Kurko’s stack. Both played superbly, but in the end it was Middleton who vanquished his opponent. In the final hand, which happened in Level 36 (200,000/400,000/50,000) — the largest level in the history of the EPT — Kurko opened on the button for 800,000 with the . Middleton three-bet to 2,000,000 and Kurko sat back to think about the situation. Just how many more times would he be able to lay down an ace? Kurko had 11.9 million behind and it was 1.2 million to call. Kurko decided it was time to make a stand and moved all in. Middleton quickly made the call and turned over the . The flop was and Kurko was left drawing to three outs, and much to his dismay, the turn and river bricked out. The British rail went crazy and a new EPT champion was crowned.
Congratulations to Tom “hitthehole” Middleton on kicking off Season 10 of the EPT in style by becoming the first player from the UK to win an EPT since Season 8. That does it for PokerNews’ coverage of the EPT Barcelona, but we’ll be back for more Season 10 action next month for EPT London.