After six days of battling through a massive field of players, six remain in the hunt for one of the most coveted titles in poker in the EPT Barcelona Main Event.
For just the second time ever in an EPT Main Event, the field eclipsed 2,000 entries. France’s Simon Wiciak and English pro Carl Shaw are well out in front in the chase for the $1,606,668 first-place prize, holding more than 60 percent of the chips in play between them. but the player garnering the most attention heading into the final table is longtime Team PokerStars Pro Andre Akkari.
Akkari, a WSOP bracelet winner who has long been an ambassador and curator of the game of poker in Brazil, is after his first ever EPT Main Event title. He started both Day 5 and Day 6 of this tournament as the shortest stack of the field, and Akkari managed to navigate his way through to Sunday’s final table. He’ll have his work cut out for him, starting Day 7 as the short stack for the third straight day.
In addition to the two big stacks at the table, Akkari will also have to contend with Canadian pro Santiago Plante, Brazilian countryman Joao Sydenstricker and Argentinian pro Ezequiel Waigel.
Final table action kicks off at 12:30 p.m. local time in Barcelona (5:30 a.m. ET) with the action streaming live on a variety of platforms on a 30-minute delay. Ahead of Sunday’s finale, here’s what you need to know about the players vying for the EPT Barcelona Main Event title.
Seat 1: Santiago Plante | 7,500,000 (30 big blinds, 3/6)
Hometown: Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Lifetime Live Tournament Earnings: $1,220,013
Biggest Live Cash: $109,500, 3rd, 2023 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure $10,150 6-Handed No Limit Hold’em,
Other Notable Results: 19th, 2021 $10,000 Wynn Millions for $97,274; 3rd, 2023 WSOP $1,000 Super Turbo No Limit Hold’em for $95,195
Santiago Plante has knocked on the door of a major win several times over the last five years. He’s made three final tables at the WSOP in the last two years, including a third-place finish and a sixth in No Limit Hold’em events this summer. Plante’s biggest win to date came in a 2021 online WSOP Circuit event, in which he took home $43,007 and the ring. And in one of his earliest live results, back in October 2018, Plante made a run near his hometown when he took ninth at WPT Montreal.
This result is Plante’s fourth cash of the 2023 EPT Barcelona festival, and no matter where he finishes he will at least triple his previous career best cash.
End of Day 1 chip count: 121,500 (166/698)
End of Day 2 chip count: 469,000 (25/303)
End of Day 3 chip count: 3,025,000 (1/79)
End of Day 4 chip count: 2,940,000 (8/32)
End of Day 5 chip count: 1,240,000 (14/16)
Seat 2: Carl Shaw | 17,400,000 (70 big blinds, 2/6)
Hometown: Telford, United Kingdom
Lifetime Live Tournament Earnings: $1,294,700
Biggest Live Cash: $606,562, 1st, 2019 WSOP $5,000 No Limit Hold’em
Other Notable Result: 101st, 2019 WSOP Main Event for $59,295
For Carl Shaw, 2019 was a breakout year in his tournament poker career. He made a deep run in the 2019 WSOP Main Event, finishing 101st, and then dusted himself off to win a post-Main Event bracelet in a $5,000 No Limit Hold’em event. That $606,562 cash represents nearly half of Shaw’s lifetime live earnings, but he’s been active throughout Europe this year chasing more titles with cashes in France, England, Ireland, Monaco and now Spain.
In this event, Shaw bagged a top 10 stack on Day 2 and never really looked back; he didn’t finish a day worse than fourth from that point on. He’s looking up at Simon Wiciak in the chip counts, but Shaw has more than twice as many chips as current No. 3 stack Santiago Plante – positioning Shaw well for a run at the second major title of his career.
End of Day 1 chip count: 89,500 (303/698)
End of Day 2 chip count: 577,000 (8/303)
End of Day 3 chip count: 2,200,000 (2/79)
End of Day 4 chip count: 3,595,000 (4/32)
End of Day 5 chip count: 6,680,000 (2/16)
Seat 3: Simon Wiciak | 22,875,000 (92 big blinds, 1/6)
Hometown: La Rochelle, France
Lifetime Live Tournament Earnings: $101,615
Biggest Live Cash: $44,700, 344th, 2023 WSOP Main Event
Simon Wiciak spent the early days of his poker career in the online streets, and the 30-year-old only recorded his first live cash in 2022. He’s made his way into the money in the WSOP Main Event in each of the last two years, and Wiciak now stands to multiply his live earnings several times over after making his first major final table.
Wiciak, an engineer by trade, has put on a clinic over the last few days of the EPT Barcelona Main Event. After narrowly squeezing his way into the money at the end of Day 2, Wiciak made his move up the chip counts on Day 3 and then surged into the chip lead on Day 4. He’s ended three straight days atop the field, and he’s looking to close it out on Sunday to record one of the most dominant single-tournament performances in recent memory.
End of Day 1 chip count: 61,000 (448/698)
End of Day 2 chip count: 43,000 (277/303)
End of Day 3 chip count: 885,000 (26/79)
End of Day 4 chip count: 4,515,000 (1/32)
End of Day 5 chip count: 15,705,000 (1/16)
Seat 4: Joao Sydenstricker | 6,150,000 (25 big blinds, 4/6)
Hometown: Araucaria, Brazil
Lifetime Live Tournament Earnings: $20,004
Biggest Live Cash: $4,472, 5th, BSOP R$1,500 6-Handed No Limit Hold’em for $4,472
Before this festival, all of Joao Sydenstricker’s live results were recorded in his home country of Brazil. And while his lifetime live earnings add up to just over $20,000, Sydenstricker has been a longtime online poker player and coach. On June 26, ‘sydens,’ as he’s known on PokerStars, won the $109 $1 million guaranteed Sunday Million Progressive KO for $86,099, the best result of his career to date.
Sydenstricker’s already set a new high water mark with this result, continuing a breakout year of performances in 2023.
End of Day 1 chip count: 132,000 (129/698)
End of Day 2 chip count: 438,000 (36/303)
End of Day 3 chip count: 615,000 (43/79)
End of Day 4 chip count: 3,745,000 (3/32)
End of Day 5 chip count: 3,565,000 (7/16)
Seat 5: Andre Akkari | 4,500,000 (18 big blinds, 6/6)
Hometown: Sao Paulo, Brazil
Lifetime Live Tournament Earnings: $3,182,463
Biggest Live Cash: $675,117, 1st, 2011 WSOP $1,500 No Limit Hold’em
Other Notable Results: 5th, 2017 PokerStars Championship Barcelona for $373,767; 3rd, 2019 EPT Monte Carlo €25,000 No Limit Hold’em for $206,283
Andre Akkari originally signed on as a Team PokerStars Pro all the way back in 2007. Since that point, he has helped to build the game of poker in Brazil in a variety of ways, carried the Olympic torch ahead of the 2016 Olympic Summer Games in Rio, and befriended Brazilian soccer legend Neymar, among many other milestones. On the felt, Akkari won a WSOP bracelet in 2011, and has accumulated nearly $3.2 million in earnings.
But if he’s able to pull off winning the EPT Barcelona main event, it could well stand as Akkari’s greatest career accomplishment to date. On the opposite end of the spectrum to Wiciak, Akkari has bagged the shortest stack for three consecutive days, including a stack of 685,000 at the end of Day 5 that was 23 times smaller than Wiciak’s.
End of Day 1 chip count: 79,000 (358/698)
End of Day 2 chip count: 412,000 (43/303)
End of Day 3 chip count: 741,000 (34/79)
End of Day 4 chip count: 435,000 (32/32)
End of Day 5 chip count: 685,000 (16/16)
Seat 6: Ezequiel Waigel | 5,150,000 (21 big blinds, 5/6)
Hometown: Bahia Blanca, Argentina
Lifetime Live Tournament Earnings: $1,643,715
Biggest Live Cash: 1st, 2021 Card Player Poker Tour $2,500 Main Event for $417,004
Other Notable Results: 2nd, 2021 Wynn $2,200 Mystery Bounty for $263,627; 7th, 2022 WSOP $5,000 6-Handed No Limit Hold’em for $90,714
Ezequiel Waigel rounds out a trio of South American players at the EPT Barcelona final table. The Argentinian satellited his way into this tournament, and has made a tremendous return on his investment thus far. He’s no stranger to big spots, having made a WSOP final table in 2022 as well as recording strong results over the last few summers in Las Vegas at Wynn and Venetian.
One pay jump will make this the biggest live result of Waigel’s poker career, but his biggest career cash will be tougher to top. In 2018, Waigel, known online as ‘eze88888,’ won the WCOOP Main Event for $1,529,000.
End of Day 1 chip count: 70,000 (396/698)
End of Day 2 chip count: 703,000 (5/303)
End of Day 3 chip count: 2,110,000 (4/79)
End of Day 4 chip count: 1,050,000 (23/32)
End of Day 5 chip count: 5,130,000 (5/16)