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Poker news | Aug 22, 2022

Giuliano Bendinelli Wins 2022 EPT Barcelona Main Event

By RTR Alex

Bendinelli Italy

The 2022 PokerStars and Barcelona Casino European Poker Tour Main Event broke records after drawing 2,294 entrants across two flights and generating a huge €11,125,900 prize pool, but the colossal tournament has finally come to a close.

The €5,300 Main Event began on August 15th, hosting over 2,000 players in one of the largest events the poker world has ever seen. After 6 days of gruelling competition, a champion has finally been crowned, with Giuliano Bendinelli taking home the top prize of €1,491,133.

The Italian poker pro provided quite the finale - coming back from one big blind at the start of the final day, to beat Jimmy Guerrero in heads-up play.

Just a few hours earlier, Bendinelli almost gave up his entire stack to Guerrero and came limping out of the altercation with only one big blind remaining. Somehow, the 31-year-old crawled his way back to the top and emerged victorious after striking up a deal with Guerrero to split the majority of the pool and play heads-up for just €68,653.

Watch the showdown unfold below:

Winner's Reaction

Bendinelli has been a loyal EPT competitor for over a decade and although he's previously landed in the cash five times, his highest bank until now was just €100,000 in an EPT Monte Carlo event back in 2013.

This trophy-lifting moment puts more money in his pocket than every one of his previous live event wins combined. When asked about the importance of such a huge win, Bendinelli said:

"I can’t believe it. It’s the best day of my life. I’m speechless."

The champ stated that he couldn't remember ever coming back from just one big blind, but was certainly aware that the element of luck had a big role in his victory.

"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."

Bendinelli EPT Celebration 1

Bendinelli becomes the third Italian EPT champ in history, joining 2014 EPT Monte Carlo winner Antonio Buonanno and 2008 EPT Prague winner Salvatore Bonavena. The 2022 victor was supported by a rail of enthusiastic and energetic friends and family, including his mother who flew out to watch her son defeat the largest entrant field in EPT history.

When asked if he had any words for Italy after his win, Bendinelli said:

"Thank you guys for all the support, I love you... I love you mom, and this victory is for my dad."

Final Day Action

The top six entered the final day slowly, all practicing patience and playing it safe. The first risk of elimination came over three hours into play, as Guerrero moved all-in against Bendinelli. The two held ace-king and ace-queen respectively and chips fell Guerrero's way, leaving Bendinelli with just one big blind. The eventual champ's elimination looked certain, but he clawed his way back to a competitive stack with a series of great cards and even better plays.

The first knockout saw Norway’s Kayhan Mokri walk away in sixth place. Although he entered the final day with the second biggest stack, he found no momentum and was slowly edged off the table, eventually hitting the rail for €334,480.

Patrik Jaros entered the bubble with the chip lead, but bet everything on a weak pocket pair and left in fifth place with €434,850.

Final table ept 2

Jaros was closely followed by Brazil’s Fabiano Kovalski who was similarly beaten by a superior pocket pair. He shoved his chips with a duo of eights but ran into Bendinelli’s tens. The board provided no help for Kovalski as he left in fourth place with €565,280 and pushed Bendinelli to the top of the pack with his chip loss.

Brazil's Neville Costa was also hoping to bring the trophy back to his hometown, as fellow Brazilian Marcelo Simoes Mesqueu took the title at EPT's last stop in Monte Carlo. Deal discussions ensued between the remaining trio, but an agreement couldn't be reached and Costa was sent home shortly after with €734,470 in prize money.

The final two had been decided and the duo took a quick break before returning to the table to settle a prize-pool split that would guarantee both over a million Euros. The deal would promise €1,250,337 to Guerrero, while Bendinelli would bank €1,422,480 as the chip leader.

Final two ept 1

The two then battled it out for the remaining €68,653 and the prestigious EPT title.

The eventual champ had almost twice the stack of Guerrero, but heads-up play ensued for three hours with many opportunities for either opponent to take the win. It seemed only right that after such a comeback from Bendinelli, the final hand be just as awe-inspiring.

The two faced-off for the last hand of the day which saw Guerrero land a full-house, but Bendinelli shocked the crowd by hitting quad-eights on the river.

The Italian instantly celebrated with his rail of supporters and solidified his name in poker history as he became the victor of the record-breaking EPT Main Event.

Check the full final table results below:

2022 EPT Barcelona €5,300 EPT Main Event Final Table Results

Place Player Country Prize
1 Giuliano Bendinelli Italy € 1,491,133
2 Jimmy Guerrero France € 1,250,337
3 Neville Costa Brazil € 734,470
4 Fabiano Kovalski Brazil € 565,280
5 Patrik Jaros Czech Republic € 434,850
6 Kayhan Mokri Norway € 334,480
7 Michael Pinto Netherlands € 257,330
8 Scott Margereson United Kingdom € 198,000