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 â‚¬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.
Joao Barbosa, Portugal's first EPT champion
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.
Three-handed action (from l-r): Joao Barbosa, Dario Minieri, Nico Behling
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 â‚¬205,270 with which to soothe his wounds. Barbosa has more than 360,000 reasons not to forget his 26th birthday.
How they lined up
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 â‚¬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 â‚¬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 â‚¬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.
Watch EPT Warsaw 08. The Winner of the Final Table on PokerStars.tv
Take a blow-by-blow look back at the final table with any of the following links.
Not enough unlikely clumps of consonants? Try the Hungarian coverage. Or even the Polish. How about nice little graphics of cards? You can find that on the German final table wrap. And if small circles above letters is more your bag, the Swedish blog has it covered.
Moving images are available, as always, on the peerless PokerStars.tv. All the peerless photography on the PokerStars blog comes from Neil Stoddart. And the next stop on this peerless poker tour is in Prague next month. Please join us.
Thank you and goodnight from Warsaw.