The MILLIONS Grand Final Barcelona was a wonderful conclusion to the first season of the partypoker LIVE MILLIONS tour. There was the sheer thrill of the four super high roller events, the drama and excitement of the Warm Up, Open, Finale and High Roller, and, of course, the record-breaking poker extravaganza that was the Main Event, which saw Pascal Lefrancois win €1.7M and Adam Owen and Stephen Chidwick win €1.3M and €1M respectively after a cracking final table.
There can no longer be any doubt whatsoever that the MILLIONS live tour is the best show in town. Despite the incredible €23M guaranteed prize pool across nine glittering events, eight of the nine tournaments had their guarantee beaten, with only the High Roller missing out- and by just six players. No other poker tour does it quite like MILLIONS.
One of the first tournaments of the festival was the €1,100 buy-in Open event. Ludovic Geilich eventually took it down for €250,000 after surviving three days of explosive, non-stop action. Across four hard-fought opening flights, the Open managed to attract 1,716 entrants, more than enough to smash the €1M guarantee.
A total of 514 survivors came back for a manic Day 2, and after a cutthroat day of rapid eliminations just 87 of those made it through to the final day, with Christoph De Meulder leading the way and Team partypoker Sponsored pro Roberto Romanello right in the mix. The Welsh Wizard eventually crashed out in 41st for €6,000, with De Meulder finishing in sixth for €38,250.
Fourth was Balazs Biri (€75,000), and when Rasmus Vogt crashed out in third for €105,000, it set up a cracking heads-up battle between Geilich and Joey Weissman, who has over $1.7M in live tournament earnings. It didn't take long for the Scot to prevail, netting him the second biggest live score of his impressive career. Geilich was backed by a vociferous and passionate rail throughout the final table, and their celebrations went on long into the night.
€25K Super High Roller (1)
One thing that MILLIONS Grand Final had in abundance was Super High Rollers, with no less than four of the elite events held over the festival in the beautiful surroundings of the Casino Barcelona. The first of them, a €25K buy-in event, pulled in 88 players to comfortably beat the guarantee, with nine of them making it to Day 2’s final table.
Team partypoker was well-represented throughout the event but had little success. Sam Trickett bought in twice and lasted a collective 20 minutes. He dubbed himself "the worst-performing player in the tournament," while Isaac Haxton finished in 11th place, just two spots from the money.
The champion was Day 1 chipleader Andreas Eiler. He beat fellow countryman Rainer Kempe heads-up to lift his first trophy since May 2012, picking up €700,000 in the process. Team partypoker’s Kristen Bicknell finished eighth for €60,000, with her boyfriend Alex Foxen following her out of the door in seventh.
Going into three-handed play, both Eiler and Kempe were way ahead of poker legend Erik Seidel, with both Germans continuing to pile the pressure on Seidel until he was eliminated. Heads-up play would only last one level as Kempe three-bet all-in having found A-6 against Eiler's A-9, with the T-3-3-4-5 runout giving Eiler the title.
€25K Super High Roller (2)
It was Belgian powerhouse Davidi Kitai who beat Spaniard and start of day chipleader Juan Pardo Dominguez heads-up to win one of the biggest titles of his life and add the MILLIONS Grand Final Super High Roller title to the three WSOP Bracelets and an EPT title that he's won in an illustrious career. The €700,000 Kitai earned in the process was his second biggest lifetime score.
The second of the four Super High Roller events scheduled for the MILLIONS Grand Final at the beautiful Casino Barcelona came with a guaranteed prizepool of €2,000,000 which was beaten comfortably with 90 entrants. It was Mikita Badziakouski who bubbled before Steve O’Dwyer went out in ninth for a min-cash, setting up a stacked Day 2 final table.
Justin Bonomo, Ryan Riess, Manig Loeser and Adrian Mateos all exited the final table early, before a period of three-handed play when Dominguez used the payjump dynamics to bully the two shorter stacks. Later, Dominguez raised all-in from the small blind with and Kamal Bejjani called it off with . The board ran out with three diamonds to send Bejjani to the rail with €325,000, after a fantastic and entertaining run through the tournament.
That left Kitai and Dominguez heads-up, with Dominguez having a seven-to-one lead. It didn't take long for Kitai to level things up, doubling up in both of the first two hands. Dominguez fought hard to stay in contention, but eventually the tide of the heads-up match turned against him and he found himself all-in and at risk with against the of Kitai. The board was clean and Dominguez was forced to settle for second and €450,000. Kitai, on the other hand, was able to celebrate his victory jubilantly with his wife, who was railing him throughout the final table.
Matan Bakrat, a 25-year old IT student from Canada, won his first ever live tournament for €355,000 after beating Bartlomiej Machon heads-up. Machon added another €265,000 to his already impressive list of cashes, which took him to over $2M in lifetime earnings.
The €2,700 buy-in Warm Up came with a €1M guarantee but that was easily beaten due to the 749 entries who created a total prize pool of €1,816,325. A total of 20 players returned on Day 3, with Francisco Olivera bubbling the final table for €25,000. Online phenom Chris Moorman finished eighth for €32,000.
After Francois Billard was eliminated in third, Bakrat and Machon discussed a deal, and they decided to leave €40,000 to play for, with Bakrat guaranteed €315,000 and Machon €265,000. After a few hands, Machon found himself all-in with ace-queen against the ace-ten of Bakrat, with Bakrat making a full house to secure victory.
€50K Super High Roller
The MILLIONS Grand Final €50K Super High Roller crowned Sam Greenwood as champion after the Canadian made an epic comeback from one big blind to storm to the title and €1M first prize. After 57 entrants took to the felt in Day 1, only seven players returned to take their seats at the final table. A lengthy bubble resulted in Seth Davies crashing out in an agonising eighth, and left four very short stacks for the final day, including Greenwood.
Greenwood has pedigree on the MILLIONS tour, winning more than $1.3M at the Caribbean Poker Party alone after an stunning run saw him crush the festival, with podium finishes in three separate tournaments. Incredibly, at one point the Canadian had 600,000 chips at blinds of 250,000/500,000 before he stormed back to take the title.
Team partypoker Ambassador Joao Simao took sixth for €160,000, with ice-cool Finn Patrik Antonius finishing third for €400,000. Greenwood secured multiple double-ups to take control of the heads-up match, and Aido was unable to wrest back control. He ended up the second Spaniard to finish runner-up at the MILLIONS Grand Final Barcelona, with a cash that took his earnings on the live circuit to more than $7M. It was Greenwood who could celebrate the title, though, as he continued his phenomenal form on the MILLIONS tour.
€100K Super High Roller
The most expensive tournament of the 2018 partypoker LIVE MILLIONS Grand Final Barcelona was won by Jake Schindler, who claimed a payday of €1,750,000 after defeating Stephen Chidwick heads-up.
Schindler started the day as the chip leader and never looked likely to surrender his lead. Only 48 of the very best and very wealthiest players put up the €100K required for a seat, and only 11 of those made it through to Day 2 to challenge for a portion of the €4,656,000 prize pool, with the initial guarantee of €2 million more than doubled.
It was Keith Tilston that had to leave empty-handed without anything to show for his deep run. Tilston raised out of the small blind with pocket sixes and called the shove of Jason Koon, who turned over king-seven only. However, a seven appeared on the turn and that locked up the min-cash of €240,000 for the remaining six players.
The six players making the money in the huge event included Erik Seidel, Bryn Kenney, and Team partypoker’s Jason Koon. After knocking out Jean-Noel Thorel to enter heads-up with a narrow lead, Schindler had to battle for two hours before his flopped top pair and turned straight was enough to catch British superstar Chidwick bluffing with just queen-high and take the title.
The Finale is always a crazy, exciting event, and it was no different in Barcelona. A total of 1,136 entries enjoyed playing the Finale and in the end Pedro Cairat was the one to lift the final trophy awarded of the festival. The Argentine won the first-place prize of €195,000 after beating Grzegorz Grochulski heads-up.
Despite the late finish to the event, Cairat had some loyal friends who were there all day to support him. The 29-year old fired four bullets in total in the unlimited rebuy event but it turned out to be more than worth it as he secured his second highest cash ever. With 214 players returning for Day 2 after having survived one of the four crazy starting flights and only 143 players making the money, the action was fast and furious throughout.
Cairat had taken the chip lead earlier on the day when he eliminated both Bruno Launais and Alessandro Borsa with a full house. The final table bubble was Francisco Oliveira. Eliminated on the final table were Arie Berrebi, Mark Pedersen, and Said Al Yousfi, who ran ace-four into the ace-queen of Reichenstein. Jari-Pekka Juhola finished fifth before Moshe hit the rail in fourth when he ran his king-ten into the ace-queen of Uri Reichenstein. Reichenstein and Cairat were responsible for a lot of eliminations over the day and it was no surprise that they kept clashing. First Reichenstein doubled Cairat up with Cairat rivered two pair, before Reichenstein then lost his remaining chips by running his king-ten into Cairat's pocket aces.
During heads-up play Cairat first doubled Grochulski up but won all of it back when Cairat had hit a full house. In the final hand, Grochulski shoved after Cairat had raised his initial call on the button. Cairat time banked and called with ace-six. Grochulski held pocket treys and got no help from the board. It took Cairat and his rail a few seconds to realize what had happened, but when they did, they jumped into each other's arms in pure joy.
Fahredin Mustafov was able to see off a field of 194 entrants to take down the €10,000 buy-in High Roller for €400,000. It was Mustafov’s best live cash by a long way, with his previous best being €70,300.
Mustafov secured his victory after seeing off one of the most feared players in the game, 20th on the All-Time Money List and partypoker ambassador Isaac Haxton. The heads-up duel didn't last long, especially considering how long the players had spent battling it out on the final table.
A total of 67 players came back for Day 2, with eight of them battling all the way to the final table. Alex Foxen extended his chip lead by knocking out Jake Schindler, with partypoker Team Online's Dayane Kotoviezy next to fall. Andrew Chen fell in 6th place after he lost a classic flip with queens against Haxton's . After Chen's exit, it took two and a half hours before the next casualty, and it took a hideous bad beat in order to make that happen.
Joey Weissman 3-bet all-in over Foxen's open, with the eventual champion Mustafov calling it off. Both players had A-J offsuit, but Mustafov made a flush as the board ran out all spades. Mustafov then eliminated Foxen and just a few hands later Haxton knocked out Pollak.
That left Haxton and Mustafov heads-up for the trophy and €400,000.
The last hand saw Mustafov 3-bet pre-flop and get three streets of value with A-J on a J-T-2-3-5 board, emptying the clip on the river and getting full value versus Haxton's A-T. As the chips were pushed Mustafov's way, his small but eager rail erupted, coming together in a group hug before posing proudly with the Bulgarian flag in the winner's photo.
The record-setting 2018 partypoker LIVE MILLIONS Grand Final Barcelona €10,300 Main Event champion was Pascal Lefrancois, who won the biggest prize ever awarded in a poker tournament at the Casino Barcelona of €1.7M.
Lefrancois was cheered on by a loud French-Canadian rail, while the other side of the table featured plenty of loud chants from the mostly British supporters throughout the final table to end the festival with a bang.
After surviving three hugely exciting days of poker, Day 4’s final table featured several well-known faces of the international poker circuit. Four-time WSOP bracelet winner Dominik Nitsche ended up in fourth place, his fellow countryman Jan-Eric Schwippert had joined the rail in 5th place. Portugal's Diogo Veiga, Triple Crown Champion Davidi Kitai and Thomas Boivin rounded up the other finalists.
With big pay jumps right away, the tension was quite high and it came as no surprise to see no casualty in the first two hours of play. The first big double of the final table saw Thomas Boivin best Diogo Veiga after both flopped trips kings. However, the Belgian was twice dominated by the aggression of Stephen Chidwick before his top set on the flop left him short as Dominik Nitsche turned a straight.
Boivin was sporting the famous "disco jacket" that was first introduced by his countryman Michael Gathy and worn on big final tables by Gathy, Terry Schumacher (Aussie Millions Six-Max Event in 2017) and his brother Johan. The jacket didn’t seem to work for the Belgian as he became the first casualty of the final table after more than 4 hours of play. Short in chips he moved all in with ace-three suited and Stephen Chidwick called with pocket jacks to remain ahead.
Only a few minutes later the second player that was flying the Belgian flag in the final was sent to the rail in Davidi Kitai. The Triple Crown champion, who had already won the €25,500 Super High Roller II for €700,000, added another €325,000 to his poker bankroll. The expecting father was supported by a big rail that also included his wife Caroline, ended up second-best with ace-jack against the ace-four of Diogo Veiga. More than one million in cashes during the only two events he played in the record-setting festival in Barcelona cap a very successful start into the year, and the Kitai's are also expecting the birth of their daughter in the summer.
Diogo Veiga departed in 6th place after his flopped two pair with ace-try were counterfeit by Stephen Chidwick's ace-nine suited thanks to running jacks, and the Brit further pulled ahead at the top of the counts.
"Adam's gonna win," his rail started chanting even when their favorite was among the shorter stacks, and the Brit gained a lot of momentum when he won a flip with pocket sevens against the ace-nine suited of Jan-Eric Schwippert.
Down to the last four players, former dominating big stacks Stephen Chidwick and Dominik Nitsche were sent to the bottom of the counts. Nitsche was the first to fall when his jam with king-six was called by Pascal Lefrancois with king-trey. The Canadian improved to a runner-runner straight and also took care of Chidwick soon after. Chidwick was all in with ace-seven and Lefrancois called with king-ten suited to immediately spike a king on the flop.
Heads-up started with a commanding lead for Lefrancois, but Owen's immense aggression turned things around rather quickly. Eventually, the duo both picked up suited aces and Owen four-bet all in with ace-ten, Lefrancois called with ace-jack and the kicker played to crown the Main Event champion.
An incredible festival with a suitably dramatic ending, MILLIONS Grand Final Barcelona was an epic way to end the first season of the MILLIONS tour. We can’t wait to do it all again- starting in just a few short days with MILLIONS North America!
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- Вячеслав Краснянский