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Overpowering the challenges of a 4,348 strong field,Jean-René Fontaine (cover image) took down the 2018 EPT Barcelona €1,100 National to win the top prize of €547,000 (~$635,872) and a PSPC Platinum Pass valued at $30,000.
The amateur player who hails from the French overseas region of Réunion had entered the final table with the biggest stack. He clashed with World Series of Poker (WSOP) bracelet winner Julien Martini in heads-up play, relegating him to a runner-up finish, while claiming the trophy.
“It is pretty, it is too beautiful, I am very happy. There is nothing more beautiful!” a visibly ecstatic Fontaine said, after his victory. “This victory will not change my life, it’s beautiful but it will not make me turn my head,” he added.
The event featured four starting flights and from the Indian contingent, three players managed to make it in the money. Abhisek Panda made the deepest run and finished in 99th place for €4,570 (â‚¹3.70 Lakhs), while Young Gun Abhinav Iyer (506th for €1,810 – â‚¹1.46 Lakhs) and Mayank Saxena (545th for €1,650 – â‚¹1.33 Lakhs) also finished in the money. All the three players had advanced to Day 2 and Panda looked poised to carry forward to Day 3 as well but his run ended after his king-jack was busted by an opponent’s ace-jack.
The final table was dominated by French players and Alberto Ah-Line was another player from Réunion who managed to reach the final table, eventually finishing in third place.
“The feeling of winning is even stronger with two Réunion on the podium and four French in the final. I felt that something special was happening already on Day 2. In the heads-up, with all the respect that I have for Julien, I knew that I was going to win. I saw what he was trying to do and I acted on it”, Fontaine said, before adding “it’s a pleasure to play against professionals, I learn a lot. After that, obviously, luck comes into play as well,” Fontaine said.
Talking about the heads-up match, Martini, who snagged his maiden WSOP bracelet this year in the $1,500 Omaha Hi-Lo event said, “It was very hard for me to understand what he was doing and I think he used that very well. He was very unpredictable. I couldn’t adapt, unfortunately. He used his strengths and that’s good for him. He won; I think he deserved it.”
A total of 650 players received a minimum assured payout of €1,650 and notables who fell well before the final table include Michal Casnocha (13th for €39,150), Johan Verhagen (19th for €25,850), Ludovic Geilich (24th for €17,350), Upeshka Desilva (33rd for €11,950), Ari Engel (55th for €9,500) and Julien Stropoli (61st for €7,050).
Jan Dentler narrowly missed the final table and was eliminated in seventh place. He took home €91,220.
Final Table Chip Counts
1. Jean-René Fontaine – 42,500,000
2. Julien Martini -38,775,000
3. Jerome L’Hostis – 19,775,000
4. AlbertoAh-Line – 12,300,000
5. Jan Teunis – 8,950,000
6. Claudio Di Giacomo – 7,700,000
Final Table Recap
The six finalists resumed play on Day 4 and within the first 30 minutes, Jan Teunis was eliminated when Ah-Line raised to 1,200,000 from the cutoff and Fontaine called on the button. Teunis responded by 3-bet shove for 8,450,000 from the big blind prompting Ah-Line to fold. Fontaine made the call and tabled against Teunis’ . The flop was giving Teunis an open ended straight draw, however the turn and the bricked his chances and he hit the rail in sixth place.
Jerome L’Hostis bowed out next, in fifth place after he clashed with Martini who open-shoved from the small blind and L’Hostis called all in for 10 Million from the big blind. Martini showed vs. L’Hostis’ . The dealer fanned out a board and Martini rivered a pair of eights to send L’Hostis out to the rail.
Soon, Claudio Di Giacomo moved all in for 5,000,000 from the cutoff and Martini snap-called from the big blind. Giacomo’s were trailing Martini’s and though he hit a pair of jacks on the flop, Martini’s pocket queens held on the turn and the river to eliminate Giacomo in fourth place.
Alberto Ah-Line then 3-bet shoved 13,800,000 from the big blind after Martini’s raise to 2,200,000 from the small blind. Martini made the call and the players turned their cards over. Ah-Line tabled against Martini’s and while he had live cards, he failed to catch up on the runout that sealed Ah-Line’s fate, railing him out in third place.
Heads-up, Julien Martini took the lead and was the obvious favorite but Fontaine soon snapped the lead off him. On the final hand, Martini raised 2,500,000 on the button and Fontaine 3-bet 8,000,000 from the big blind; Martini called. Fontaine checked the flop and Martini checked behind to see the turn. Fontaine bet 9,500,000 and Martini called. On the river, Fontaine instantly checked and Martini moved all in for 24 Million, Fontaine made the call.
Fontaine’s flopped pair of aces won him his maiden tournament title, while Martini had to settle for a runner-up finish.
Final Table Results (Euro)
1. Jean-René Fontaine – €547,000
2. Julien Martini – €323,000
3. Alberto Ah-Dine – €242,000
4. Claudio Di Giacomo – €197,000
5. Jerome L’Hostis – €155,000
6. Jan Teunis – €123,000
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