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Where Are They Now: The Nine Past EPT Barcelona Champions

Former EPT Barcelona winners

This week, Season 10 of the PokerStars European Poker Tour kicks off with the first stop in Barcelona, Spain. Way back in 2004, the EPT held its first-ever event there, which saw Alexander Stevic top a field of 229 players to win €80,000 in the €1,000 buy-in event. Needless to say, the tour has grown by leaps and bounds since then — as evidenced by PokerNews’ recent EPT Barcelona Numbers Look.

In continuing with our EPT Season 10 preview, PokerNews decided to take a look back at the past nine EPT Barcelona champions and ask one simple question: where are they now? Other than Stevic, the winners from the first nine seasons include Jan Boubli, Bjorn-Erik Glenne, Sander Lylloff, Sebastian Ruthenberg, Carter Phillips, Kent Lundmark, Martin Schleich, and Mikalai Pobal.

Season 1 (2004) — Alexander Stevic

Way back in 2004, the EPT was in an infancy, which was evidenced by the €1,000 Main Event in Barcelona, which attracted 229 entries and created a prize pool of €229,000. The inaugural final table of the EPT Barcelona included John Kabbaj, Stefan Rapp, and Luca Pagano, all of who have established themselves as quality players in the poker world.

Season 1 EPT Barcelona champion Alex Stevic
Season 1 EPT Barcelona champion Alex Stevic

With that said, the man who emerged victorious that season was Sweden’s Alexander Stevic, who took home €80,000 for the win.

Stevic also made the final table of the Season 1 €10,000 EPT Grand Final in Monte Carlo, where he navigated a field of 211 players to finish third for €178,000. Stevic looked as if he could become a star born out of the EPT’s early days, but then things slowed considerably over the next eight years.

He earned a modest $12,660 in tournament winnings in 2006 and then disappeared from the poker landscape the two years after that. His next cash came in 2009 when he took third in the Campeonato Espana De Poker €600 No-Limit Hold’em for €18,750, before he was shut out again in 2010. In 2011 and 2012, Stevic put in a little more volume and managed to cash for $32,693 and $30,074, respectively, but then essentially disappeared again — though we can confirm that he will be at the EPT Barcelona to play in the Season 10 Main Event.

Season 2 (2005) — Jan Boubli

Season 2 EPT Barcelona champion Jan Boubli
Season 2 EPT Barcelona champion Jan Boubli

In 2005, the EPT Barcelona bumped the buy-in up the €4,000 and it didn’t deter as 327 players entered to create a prize pool of €1,300,000. That year’s final table included some names you’re no doubt familiar with in Gus Hansen and Patrik Antonius, who finished in fifth and third place, respectively. The final table of eight, which was comprised of six different nationalities, was eventually conquered by France’s Jan Boubli, who captured the €416,000 first-place prize.

Boubli was no stranger to poker as he had earned five figures every year before that dating back to 1996, including 2003 when he won $286,073. That was thanks to a runner-up finish to David Benyamine in the World Poker Tour €10,000 Grand Prix de Paris, which earned him $205,443.

After winning the EPT Barcelona in Season 2, Boubli went on to win $61,790 in 2006 followed by a paltry $7,121 in 2007. He failed to cash in 2008, but then he stormed back in 2009 when he took fourth in the €10,000 Grand Prix de Paris for $139,259. Four other cashes that year brought his yearly total up to $259,503. In 2010, Boubli’s winnings dropped to $15,035 after a single cash — 71st-place in the EPT Barcelona, which was his last documented tournament cash.

Season 3 (2006) — Bjorn-Erik Glenne

Season 3 EPT Barcelona champ Bjorn-Erik Glenne
Season 3 EPT Barcelona champ Bjorn-Erik Glenne

The buy-in was upped again in 2006, this time jumping to €5,000, and again the number of entries increased as 480 players took to the felt, creating a prize pool of €2,304,000. For the third year in a row the final table included big names. This year it was Jeff Lisandro and Phil Ivey who made it, finishing sixth and second, respectively. It’s not often Ivey loses heads up, but he did to Norway’s Bjorn-Erik Glenne, who was a former chess champion turned poker pro.

The €691,000 Glenne earned for that score was by far the biggest of his career up to that point. In fact, prior to that he had just two cashes for $10,486. After winning, Glenne attempted to live the life of a poker pro and looked like he might be able to do it after finishing 65th in the 2007 World Series of Poker Main Event for $130,288 and 35th in the €8,000 EPT Barcelona Open a month later for €14,650. Unfortunately for him, his pro aspirations dwindled and died after that.

Glenne’s only other cash came in February 2009 when he took second in the European Masters of Poker €1,000 No Limit Hold’em in Tallinn for €44,640. Since then, Glenne has not been in the media spotlight.

Season 4 (2007) — Sander Lylloff

Season 4 EPT Barcelona champ Sander Lylloff
Season 4 EPT Barcelona champ Sander Lylloff

The EPT Barcelona continued to grow in Season 4 as 543 players took to the felt to compete for a €1,170,700 first-place prize. Among those in contention were Johnny Chan, Daniel Negreanu, Katja Thater, and Greg Raymer, though none of them managed to make it to the last day of play; in fact just 13 players managed to do that. Among them was Copenhagen’s Sander Lylloff, who began that day third in chips.

Lylloff used his chip advantage to make it all the way to three-handed play, which is where he played against the UK’s Mark Teltscher and USA’s Greg Dyer for nearly four hours. Eventually, Dyer fell when he shoved with the {k-Clubs}{8-Diamonds} only to run into Lylloff’s {a-}{a-}, which left the Dane with a 2:1 heads-up chip lead against Teltscher, who happened to be one of his close friends. It took just six hands to clinch victory.

In the final hand, Lylloff shoved after Teltscher had three-bet. Teltscher called off with the {k-Hearts}{k-Diamonds} and was in great shape against Lylloff’s {j-Spades}{10-Hearts}. The {q-Hearts}{j-Hearts}{7-Hearts} gave Lylloff a pair of jacks, but he was still well behind the overpair and better flush draw of Teltscher. Incredibly, the {J-Diamonds} turned to give Lylloff trips. The {4-Clubs} river failed to help Teltscher and he had to settle for second place and €673,000.

Lylloff, born April 7, 1982, is considered one of the best backgammon players in the world, and it wasn’t until 2001 that a friend introduced him to poker. Interestingly, Lylloff and Teltscher were partners in the 2005 Pro AM Backgammon Event in Las Vegas where they finished in second place. Lylloff went on to serve as a Victory Poker Pro until that site folded.

In the six years since his EPT Barcelona win, Lylloff has managed just five cashes totaling $94,557. The most notable of those was a 349th-place finish in the 2009 World Series of Poker Main Event for $29,911, while the most recent was a 377th-place finish in the ISPT Wembley Main Event for €540.

Season 5 (2008) — Sebastian Ruthenberg

Season 5 EPT Barcelona champ Sebastian Ruthenberg.
Season 5 EPT Barcelona champ Sebastian Ruthenberg.

Despite turning professional in 2006, it wasn’t until the 2008 WSOP that a young German by the name of Sebastian Ruthenberg made a name for himself by winning Event #33: $5,000 World Championship Seven Card Stud Hi-Low Split-8 or Better for $328,756 and his first gold bracelet (making him the fifth German ever to win a gold bracelet).

Three months later, Ruthenberg topped a field of 619 players — including a stacked final table containing Sam Chartier (7th - €178,000), Jason Mercier (6th - €227,800), Davidi Kitai (3rd - €455,000) and Fintan Gavin (2nd - €792,000) — to in the EPT Barcelona for $1,361,000.

Ruthenberg took a 5-1 chip lead into heads-up play, and it took just three hands for him to capture the title. In the final hand, Gavin moved all in preflop with the {4-Hearts}{7-Clubs} and Ruthenberg called with the {k-Clubs}{9-Clubs}. The board ran out {a-Clubs}{7-Hearts}{2-Hearts}{k-Hearts}{9-Diamonds} and Ruthenberg’s two pair emerged victorious.

Ruthenberg, who was born February 6, 1984 and studied IT at university, has $3,457,186 in career tournament earnings, with nearly $2,400,000 of that coming in 2008. Prior to that, he won $100,836 and $441,672 in 2006 and 2007, respectively, and after two slow years from 2009-2010 where he earned a combined $81,650, he stormed back in 2011 and won $442,238, which included a 55th-place finish in the WSOP Main Event for $130,997 and runner-up in the EPT Berlin €10,000 No Limit Hold’em 8 Max for €115,000.

Ruthenberg’s success earned him a coveted spot as a Team PokerStars Pro and he continues to represent the site at stops around the world as well as on the virtual felt. Without a doubt, Ruthenberg is among the most accomplished and relevant of the former EPT Barcelona winners.

Season 6 (2009) — Carter Phillips

EPT Barcelona Season 6 champ Carter Phillips.
EPT Barcelona Season 6 champ Carter Phillips.

On October 26, 2009, Carter Phillips of North Carolina turned 21. One month before that, he won $850,000 by winning the Season 6 EPT Barcelona. That tournament, which attracted 478 entries and created a prize pool of €3,832,000, saw Phillips defeat a final table that included Matt Lapossie (7th - €120,000), Asa Smith (5th - €200,000) and Marc Goodwin (2nd - €500,000).

That year’s heads-up battle was one of the more memorable and lengthy in EPT Barcelona history. It began with Phillips holding 8.01 million in chips to Goodwin’s 6.37 million. The chip lead changed hands just once, but after three hours Phillips was able to reclaim it and finish the job.

In the final hand, Phillips opened for 275,000 and Goodwin called, bringing about a flop of {k-Diamonds}{5-Clubs}{4-Hearts}. Goodwin checked and then made it 1.16 million after Phillips bet 310,000. A call was made, the {q-Spades} turned and Goodwin moved all in for 4.29 million. Phillips tanked for a bit before calling with the {k-Clubs}{j-Spades}, which was well out in front of Goodwin’s {a-Clubs}{10-Spades}. The {5h] river failed to change a thing and Phillips entered the history books.

The following year, PokerNews selected Phillips for a spot on their Rookie Roundup roster for the WSOP, and he didn’t disappoint. The former student from UNC Charlotte that played online under the name “bdybldngpkr” ended up capturing his first gold bracelet in Event #16: $1,500 No-Limit Hold’em Six-Handed for $482,774. Fast forward two years and Phillips added a second bracelet to his résumé when he topped a field of 2,811 players in Event #31: $1,500 No-Limit Hold’em for $664,130. What’s more, he defeated 2009 WSOP Main Event champ and Team PokerStars Pro Joe Cada in heads-up play to do it.

Phillips has more than $2,600,000 in career tournament and continues to make his living playing poker.

Season 7 (2010) — Kent Lundmark

Season 7 EPT Barcelona champ Kent Lundmark
Season 7 EPT Barcelona champ Kent Lundmark

In the two years prior to his win, Sweden’s Kent Lundmark, born May 19, 1988, had several five-figure scores including 29th in the 2010 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure Main Event for $66,000 and second in the 2010 Nordic Masters of Poker Main Event for $69,911. Then, in November 2010, Lundmark broke through by winning the EPT Barcelona for $1,127,604.

He did so by outlasting 757 other players including a final table that housed Francesco Notaro (8th - €70,000), Thor Stang (6th - €130,000), Konstantin Puchkov (3rd - €300,000) and Jesus Cortes Lizano (2nd - €525,000).

The heads-up match with Lizano began with Lundmark holding a slight chip lead, and he never looked back. Twenty minutes after winning a big pot where Lizano missed a flush, Lundmark finished the job. He opened with a bet of 320,000 and then moved all in when his Spanish opponent three-bet to 880,000. Lizano called off with the {k-Spades}{j-Diamonds} and was behind the {a-Hearts}{q-Hearts} of Lundmark. The board ran out {9-Diamonds}{9-Clubs}{7-Spades}{5-Spades}{a-Spades}, and Lundmark became an EPT champion.

Lundmark, who began playing poker straight out of high school, has been keeping busy traveling the European circuit and has amassed $219,989, $186,249, and $132,843 in tournament winnings in the three years since his win. Among his most notable accomplishments are a runner-up finish in the 2012 Unibet Open Paris Main Event for $98,051, first in a Full Tilt Poker UKIPT Galway £1,000 NLHE side event for £48,050, and second in the 2011 EPT Sanremo €2,000 NLHE Bounty for €30,500.

Season 8 (2011) — Martin Schleich

Season 8 EPT Barcelona champ Martin Schleich.
Season 8 EPT Barcelona champ Martin Schleich.

Two years ago, all eyes were on Team PokerStars Pro Eugene Katchalov at the EPT Barcelona final table as he looked to achieve poker’s prestigious Triple Crown, which is comprised of major wins on the WPT, WSOP, and EPT. Instead, it was a then 29-year-old German by the name of Martin Schleich who topped the 811-player field to win the €850,000 first-place prize.

It was one of the most memorable three-handed battles in recent EPT memory as Katchalov, Schleich, and Dragan Kostic exchanged the chip lead back and forth over more than four hours of play. Eventually, Katchalov was felled in third place when he three-bet shoved his 15 big blinds with the {7-Spades}{7-Clubs} only to run into the {9-Spades}{9-Hearts} of Schleich. The nines held and Katchalov had to settled for €315,000. An hour later, Kostic fell in second place for €532,000 and left Schleich as the last man standing.

Schleich, who worked in customer service at the time of his win, began playing no-limit cash games back in 2006, but eventually decided to play more tournaments. The decision obviously paid off with his EPT Barcelona win, but since then things have been pretty quiet for the German, who has just one cash over the last two years — 22nd in the 2012 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure $2,000 No-Limit Hold’em Leader Board Event for $6,410.

Season 9 (2012) — Mikalai Pobal

Season 9 EPT champ Mikalai Pobal.
Season 9 EPT champ Mikalai Pobal.

It’s a little early to ask just where the defending champ is now considering it’s only been a year since his win. Mikalai Pobal, who hailed from Belarus where he studied International Economic Relations at Belarus State Economic University and played on PokerStars under the name “leanod,” had to overcome a stacked final table on his way to winning the Season 9 EPT Barcelona for €1,007,550, which drew 1,082 entries and created a prize pool of €5,247,700.

Last year’s final table included John Juanda (8th - €76,100), Anaras Alekberovas (4th - €301,750), Joni Jouhkimainen (3rd - €404,050) and Ilari “Ilari FIN” Sahamies (2nd - €629,700), so you can see that saying it was “stacked” wasn’t an understatement. We won’t go into detail on how Pobal finished the job, but we’ll just say alcohol and shiny hats were involved during three-handed play. You can read about that in last year’s live blog.

Prior to his win, Pobal’s only cash was 104th in the 2012 EPT Berlin Main Event for €7,500, while his only one since the win was 10th in the 2012 EPT Sanremo €10,000 No-Limit Hold’em 8 Max for €20,600.

Here's a look at Pobal's winner interview:

Remember, the PokerNews Live Reporting Team will be in Barcelona to bring you updates from the three marquee events: the €50,000 Super High Roller, the €5,300 Main Event, and the €10,300 High Roller. You can follow the action beginning August 30 by visiting our live reporting section.

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