Simon Wiciak wins 2023 European Poker Tour Barcelona Main Event
Simon Wiciak has won the 2023 European Poker Tour Barcelona €5,300 buy-in no-limit hold’em main event. The 30-year-old from La Rochelle, France outlasted a 2,120-entry field to earn his first live tournament title and the top prize of $1,225,125.
While this was Wiciak’s debut victory on the live circuit, he is an experienced online player. It’s not always easy to transfer the skills honed behind a computer screen to a brick-and-mortar event.
Rare is it that you see someone dominate a poker tournament in the manner that France’s Simon Wiciak did in Barcelona. Wiciak took the lead of the 2023 European Poker Tour Barcelona Main Event on Day Four and, save for a couple of moments on the penultimate day and during the final table, was never out of the lead, taking the tournament in a thrashing fashion. In picking up his first major title on any circuit after defeating Joao Sydenstricker, Wiciak pocketed a €1.1 million-plus payday after a negotiated deal.
“I have felt so many emotions. Even if I looked in control and confident in my plays, I am still a human,” Wiciak told PokerStars reporters after coming out on top. “And this was the first time I played an EPT main event.”
As the final table began, six players had dreams of lifting the latest European Poker Trophy Main Event trophy and half the field were from South America. Two swift eliminations reduced that number considerably, with Argentina’s Ezequiel Waigel first to depart for a score of $324,480 in sixth place.
Waigel moved all-in with ace-seven offsuit pre-flop, but his short stack looked doomed as soon as the Brazilian player Joao Sydenstricker turned over ace-king. No drama came on the flop, turn or river to help Waigel and he was busted first after a very short time.
Sydenstricker had busted one of his fellow South Americans and soon took out his countryman and PokerStars Team Pro, Andre Akkari. Akkari cashed for $421,880 but missed out on the top four.
Just a short time later, the field was reduced to three. Canadian poker pro Santiago Plante shoved with the least chips. Plante was uprooted from his seat when a board of J-T-T-K-J gave Shaw a turned straight, sending the Canadian home with $548,450.
Sadly for Plante, things were about to get even worse. There can be few feelings in poker worse than busting a major tournament, but busting just before all three of your remaining opponents lock up a bumper payday after doing a deal. That was exactly what happened, however, as Joao Sydenstricker, Simon Wiciak and Carl Shaw all guaranteed themselves almost or over a million dollars. Just $120,000 and the EPT were left to play for.
Busting in third place was Carl Shaw, who left when his king-queen was dominated and defeated by the eventual champion Wiciak’s ace-queen. A king coming out was cruel, and the ace that landed afterwards like a dagger in the ribs for Shaw in poker terms as he left with $966,540.
Then came the heads-up battle, with the stacks almost even. An early pot set Sydenstricker ahead, but Wiciak won one to edge into a marginal lead before the final defining moment of an entertaining final table.
On a board showing 9-5-2-4-9, Sydenstricker shoved all-in with queen-ten. The difficulty for Wiciak was that he only held five-six and faced a huge hero-call to take down the title. The Frenchman processed the information he had and eventually made a brilliant call to capture the biggest win of his poker career and first EPT Main Event.