The 2022 Estrellas Poker Tour Barcelona €1,100 buy-in no-limit hold’em main event attracted 6,313 entries to Casino Barcelona over the past week. The turnout set the record as the largest live-event field ever put on by PokerStars. The most recent running of this same event, held back in 2019, drew 4,682 entries.
The massive amount of players that showed up across the six starting flights held from Aug. 9-11 resulted in a prize pool worth more than $6.2 million when reckoned in USD. The top 938 finishers made the money, but the largest share of the prize money was ultimately awarded to 27-year-old Dutchman Rick van Bruggen He earned $618,000 USD as the champion, blowing away his previous high live tournament payout of $8,5000 for a deep run in a $2,500 event at the 2019 World Series of Poker.
“It’s incredible. It hasn’t sunk in yet,” said van Bruggen, who mainly plays cash games.
In addition to the title and the massive top prize, van Bruggen was also awarded 1,320 Card Player Player of the Year points for the win. This was his first POY-qualified score of the year, but it alone was enough to move him within reach of the top 200 in the 2022 POY race standings, which are sponsored by Global Poker.
A number of big names made deep runs in this event, including PSPC champion Ramon Collilas (73rd), four-time bracelet winner, recent World Poker Tour Venetian champion Robert Mizrachi (37th), David Lappin (26th), and bracelet winner Nikita Luther (16th).
By the time the final table was set, van Bruggen sat in second chip position behind only 2018 WSOP Europe main event winner and 2017 WSOP main event eighth-place finisher Jack Sinclair. van Bruggen soon overtook the lead, though, thanks to winning a huge preflop race with A-K against the pocket fours of bracelet winner Renat Bohdanov (9th – $57,165 USD).
After Yoan Asparuhov (8th – $74,335 USD), Ahmad Rehaime (7th – $96,614 USD), and Bjorn Bruns (6th – $125,629 USD) all hit the rail, van Bruggen had managed to chip up to the point that he had roughly three times as many chips as the nearest competitor. He further extended his lead when his pocket nines held up against the A-8 of Kyle Ho (5th – $163,358 USD). van Bruggen made a set to win the hand and narrow the field to just four players.
Sinclair doubled up through Hendrik Soering, leaving the Dutch player on fumes. van Bruggen soon finished the job, sending Soering home with $212,375 USD for his fourth-place showing.
Simon Bouaksa’s run in this event came to an end when van Bruggen shoved from the button with K-2. Bouaksa called with K-Q suited from the small blind but was unable to hold. van Bruggen hit a pair of deuces on the turn to take the lead and then held from there. Bouaksa secured $276,143 USD as the third-place finisher.
With that, van Bruggen took roughly a 6:1 chip lead into heads-up play with Sinclair. The short stack managed a double-up, but van Bruggen was able to chip back up a bit before the final hand of the tournament was dealt.
Sinclair limped in from the button with J2 and van Bruggen checked his option with J6. The 976 flop saw van Bruggen check with bottom pair. Sinclair checked behind and the J improved both players on the turn. van Bruggen checked his two pair and Sinclair bet 3,000,000 with his turned pair of jacks. van Bruggen check-raised to 9,000,000 and Sinclair called. The 2 on the end gave Sinclair two pair as well, but it still wasn’t enough to give him the best hand. van Bruggen moved all-in and Sinclair made the call to put himself at risk. van Bruggen showed him jacks and sixes and Sinclair was eliminated in second place ($388,433 USD). With this score, the British poker pro now has nearly $4.7 million in recorded tournament earnings to his name.
Here is a look at the payouts and POY points awarded at the final table:
|Place||Player||Earnings (USD)||POY Points|
|1||Rick van Bruggen||$618,000||1320|
Photo credits: Tomas Stacha / Rational Intellectual Holdings Ltd.