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EPT Barcelona: Italy’s Giuliano Bendinelli Makes an Amazing Comeback to Win Record-Breaking €5,300 Main Event (€1,491,133)

Giuliano Bendinelli
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  • Attreyee Khasnabis August 22, 2022
  • 4 Minutes Read

The week-long €5,300 EPT Main Event of the 2022 PokerStars and Barcelona Casino European Poker Tour is finally in the books, marking the end of a record-breaking series! Italy’s Giuliano Bendinelli (cover image) championed over the record-setting field of 2,294 runners to win the coveted title for a career-best €1,491,133.

The historic EPT Main Event saw players from 78 countries make their way to Casino Barcelona for a shot at poker glory.

Early on the final day, with six players remaining, Bendinelli lost a massive pot to eventual runner-up, Frenchman Jimmy Guerrero, to fall to just over one big blind. The 31-year-old Bendinelli did not lose hope and persisted with his fight, staging a phenomenal comeback for the ages to reach the heads-up against Guerrero.

The two players took a short break before they returned and agreed to a deal that guaranteed €1,422,480 to Bendinelli and €1,250,337 to Guerrero. The duo then commenced heads-up play for the additional €68,653 and the trophy and glory of becoming the new EPT champion!

Bendinelli held nearly twice as many chips as Guerrero at the start of heads-up play, but the duo battled for almost three hours, with the chip lead exchanging hands a few times. In the end, Bendinelli had the last laugh as he claimed the title and cemented his legacy in the poker history books as the champion of the largest-ever EPT Main Event in the most remarkable way!

“I can’t believe it. It’s the best day of my life. I’m speechless,” Bendinelli beamed in a post-victory interview.

Bendinelli has been participating in EPT events for over a decade, and although he has recorded five previous EPT Main Event cashes, none were particularly deep runs. He has surpassed his entire collection of live tournament earnings with this win.

“I can’t believe it happens today, on the most important day of my life,” Bendinelli said as he couldn’t remember ever making a comeback from one big blind.

“I’m proud about how I played, but also I won some showdowns, of course, to be here. I need luck, like the last hand with quads against full house, so it’s a mix between skill and luck. I’m grateful to be here,” he added.

Bendinelli is the third player from Italy to win the EPT Main Event title after 2008 EPT Prague winner Salvatore Bonavena and the 2014 EPT Monte Carlo winner Antonio Buonanno.

“Thank you guys for all the support. I love you,” Bendinelli expressed when asked what he would want to say to Italy. “I love you, mom, and this victory is for my dad.”

Kavin Shah was the lone Indian player to make Day 3. The high-stakes cash game reg did well to finish 92nd for his first EPT cash worth €20,480 (~ ₹16.45 Lakhs).

Kavin Shah
Kavin Shah

 

Apoorva Goel was the only other Indian who crossed the money line. He made it to the feature table on Day 2 and was eliminated on the same day, finishing 318th for €8,860 (~₹7.19 Lakhs).

Apoorva Goel
Apoorva Goel

 

The record-breaking field of the Main Event accumulated an €11,125,900 prize pool that was distributed among the top 328 finishers.

Kalidou Sow (17th for €67,790), Michael Wang (44th for €27,100), defending champion Simon Brandstrom (53rd for €27,100), Indo-American Balakrishna Patur (56th for €23,580), Indo-Canadian Jaspal Brar (60th for €23,580), and Harry Lodge (68th for €23,580) were among the notables who finished in the money.

Valentin Cristea’s exit (10th for €117,140) set up the nine-handed final table.

Final Table Chip Counts

  1. Patrik Jaros – 16,555,000
  2. Scott Margereson – 12,445,000
  3. Michael Pinto – 8,940,000
  4. Neville Costa – 7,580,000
  5. Jimmy Guerrero – 6,100,000
  6. Paul Fischill – 5,495,000
  7. Fabiano Kovalski – 4,925,000
  8. Giuliano Bendinelli – 4,800,000
  9. Kayhan Mokri – 1,980,000

 

Final Table Recap

Paul Fischill was the first player to fall on the final table in ninth place. An hour later, Scott Margereson followed Fischill to the rail in eighth place.

Michael Pinto was the last player to depart on Day 5, walking out in seventh place. The play was halted with six runners left in the fray and Patrik Jaros (14,975,000) grabbing the final day chip lead.

Patrik Jaros
Patrik Jaros

 

Final Day Chip Counts

  1. Patrik Jaros – 14,975,000
  2. Kayhan Mokri – 14,575,000
  3. Fabiano Kovalski – 12,925,000
  4. Giuliano Bendinelli – 10,700,000
  5. Neville Costa – 10,550,000
  6. Jimmy Guerrero – 5,100,000

 

Final Day Recap

Three hours into the final day’s play, Jimmy Guerrero opened to 900,000 from UTG, and Giuliano Bendinelli moved all in on the button. Kayhan Mokri got out of the way, and Guerrero called all in for 9,375,000.

Jimmy Guerrero

Giuliano Bendinelli

The board ran , and Guerrero scooped the pot, leaving Bendinelli with just over one big blind.

Despite nearly exiting the tournament, Bendinelli did not give up hope and continued to rebuild his stack. An hour later, start-of-day second chip leader Kayhan Mokri got knocked out in sixth place by Neville Costa.

Kayhan Mokri
Kayhan Mokri

 

The play continued for another hour before Guerrero’s bested Patrik Jaros’ , eliminating the latter in fifth place.

During Level 36, the play had to be paused due to technical difficulties arising from a power outage. About 40 minutes after play was resumed, Fabiano Kovalski walked out in fourth place when his failed to match up to Bendinelli’s .

Fabiano Kovalski
Fabiano Kovalski

 

Down to three-handed play, the remaining players started looking at numbers to discuss a possible deal. After a lengthy discussion, they decided to play on without a deal. Three-handed play lasted for nearly an hour before Bendinelli sent Neville Costa packing.

Neville Costa
Neville Costa

 

The heads-up between Giuliano Bendinelli (44,000,000) and Jimmy Guerrero (24,820,000) began with the former in a considerable lead. The two players resumed their discussions for a deal. After some deliberation, they agreed on Bendinelli getting €1,422,480 and Guerrero €1,250,337.

Jimmy Guerrero
Jimmy Guerrero

 

With a deal locked in, they resumed playing for the remaining €68,653 and the title.

The chip lead changed hands a few times, but in the end, it was Bendinelli who took home the title.

On the final hand of the Main Event, Bendinelli raised it to 3 Million, and Guerrero defended his big blind. The flop opened and Guerrero check-called for 2.50 Million. The turn brought , and Guerrero check-called again for 5.50 Million. The on the river completed the board. Guerrero led out for 3.80 Million, and Bendinelli jammed. Guerrero called all in for his remaining 16 Million. Guerrero turned over for a rivered boat, but Bendinelli’s had him beat with his rivered quads!

Bendinelli clinched the Main Event title for €1,491,133 and the bragging rights of winning the largest EPT Main Event, while Guerrero had to settle for €1,250,337 he got through the heads-up deal.

Giuliano Bendinelli
Giuliano Bendinelli

 

Final Table Results (EURO)

  1. Giuliano Bendinelli – €1,491,133*
  2. Jimmy Guerrero – €1,250,337*
  3. Neville Costa – €734,470
  4. Fabiano Kovalski – €565,280
  5. Patrik Jaros – €434,850
  6. Kayhan Mokri – €334,480
  7. Michael Pinto – €257,330
  8. Scott Margereson – €198,000

*denotes a heads-up deal

 

Content & Images Courtesy: PokerStars & PokerNews

Cover Image Courtesy: Danny Maxwell

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