Joao Barbosa became the second player in a month to make the final table of an EPT tournament on his birthday, but he bested Gino Alacqua's feat by a mile when he took down the title and the €367,141 top prize at the PokerStars.net European Poker Tour Polish Open Main Event. Barbosa outlasted a tough final table that included Italian superstar Dario Minieri and 2007 EPT Prague champion Arnaud Mattern. Barbosa defeated Nico Behling heads-up to claim his first major tournament title, becoming the first Portuguese player to win an EPT event in the process. Barbosa started the day as one of the shorter stacks, as the final table seating assignments and chip counts began as follows:
Seat 1: Arnaud Mattern - 238,000
Seat 2: Ludovic Lacay - 296,500
Seat 3: Andrea Benelli - 100,000
Seat 4: Michael Muheim - 89,000
Seat 5: Joao Barbosa - 123,000
Seat 6: Dario Minieri - 359,500
Seat 7: Nico Behling - 343,500
Seat 8: Sergey Shcherbatskiy - 349,000
Seat 9: Atanas Gueorguiev - 186,500
Michael Muheim predictably became the first casualty of the final table, busting in ninth place when he moved all in over the top of Sergey Shcherbatskiy from the big blind. Shcherbatskiy quickly called, tabling to Muheim's . Muheim needed a lot of help to stay alive, and he found some of it on the flop. He failed to improve on the turn or river, as the and came down to send him home with €21,114.
Renowned French poker pro Ludovic Lacay logged his best finish in 13 EPT appearances in Warsaw, but fell short of his ultimate goal when he busted to Nico Behling in eighth place (€32,843). Behling raised preflop with , and Lacay re-raised. Behling called, and hit gin on the flop. Lacay fired out a bet, and Behling raised slightly more than the minimum raise. Lacay moved all in over the top and Behling called with top set. Lacay tabled a cracked , and he did not pick up either of his outs on the turn or river.
Dario Minieri had been relatively quiet at the final table until he took out Andrea Benelli in seventh place (€45,746). Benelli moved all in preflop with , and Minieri was the lone caller with . The race was on as the flop came down to add the nut flush draw to Minieri's outs, and the on the turn gave him the flush and left Benelli drawing dead as the meaningless came on the river.
One-time chip leader Sergey Shcherbatskiy headed to the rail in sixth place (€57,476) at the hands of eventual champ Joao Barbosa when Shcherbatskiy moved all in over the top of Barbosa's preflop raise with . Barbosa quickly called with pocket queens, and made a straight on the board to send Shcherbatskiy to the payout line.
Arnaud Mattern lost two huge pots in quick succession to finish his in fifth (€72,724). First he called an all-in move from Atanas Gueorguiev with . Gueorguiev turned over the dominated , but picked up a pair on the turn to double up as the board ran out . Gueorguiev doubled up and Mattern was left as one of the shortest stacks. A few hands later he raised preflop with , and Joao Barbosa re-raised from the small blind. Mattern moved all in, and Barbosa called with . Once again it was an eight on the turn that was doom for Mattern as the board ran out to dash his hopes of becoming the first-ever repeat EPT champion.
Barbosa began to use his big stack to his advantage after busting Mattern, sending Atanas Gueorguiev to the rail in fourth place (€87,973) on another fortunate board. Guerguiev raised preflop with , and Barbosa called with . The flop hit both players as it came down , giving both men top pair and leaving Barbosa in dangerous waters. Gueorguiev checked, Barbosa led out, Gueurguiev moved all in over the top, and Barbosa called, only to find himself drawing to three queens or running spades. The on the turn left Barbosa drawing to three outs, and the on the river was one of them, as it gave Barbosa two pair and sent Gueorguiev to the rail.
Three-handed play continued until after the dinner break, when Barbosa busted Dario Minieri in third place (€123,162) to bring on the heads-up match. Barbosa raised preflop, and Minieri moved all in from the small blind with . Barbosa called with , and found himself needing to fade his opponent's outs instead of drawing to his own. The flop of was no good for Minieri, as he was then drawing to only a seven. The on the turn did nothing, and the on the river sent the young Italian star home a couple of spots short of where he wanted to finish.
Barbosa took a substantial chip lead into heads-up play, but the stacks were close enough that the two players took their time feeling each other out before making any major moves. Finally, after a lengthy heads-up match, all the money went in the middle preflop, and the cards went on their backs for the last time. Nico Behling raised preflop with . Barbosa re-raised with , and Behling moved all in. Barbosa called, and the flop hit both players as it came down . Barbosa was ahead with top pair, and picked up a flush draw on the turn. Behling needed a non-heart jack or seven to stay alive, but the river card was the . Behling picked up €205,270 for his second-place finish. Barbosa's top finish earned him the trophy and the €367,141 top prize, a happy birthday present indeed for the newly-minted 26-year-old champion.