11/22/09 – With 322 entrants, many of them top international players, the inaugural Pokerstars European Poker Tour Vilamoura was never going to be a cakewalk, and winner Antonio Matias (54) had to work hard for the trophy and the main prize of Euro 404 793 as the tourney climaxed over the weekend.
The final result of Pokerstars‘ first sally into the Portuguese region was especially pleasing because Matias is an amateur Portuguese player, making for a popular home win by a good player who led the final table for most of the final day.
Going into final table play Matias had a chip lead of over a million on his nearest opponent, and by the time he faced Belgian retired player Pierre Neuville in the heads up, that had stretched to a seven-to-one advantage.
The first final table casualty was the successful Russian realtor and enthusiastic poker fan Andrei Vlasenko, who was eliminated in 8th place by young gun Ryan Franklin, leaving with Euro 31 234. It was over two hours before the next player was busted out, and ironically it was Franklin, sent to the exit in seventh place for Euro 46 851 by Jeff Sarwer – not bad finishing for a recent high school grad playing in his first live tournament.
Sixth place and Euro 62 468 went to French pro player Michel Abecassis, taken out by Matias. The other Portuguese player in the final table, Joao Silva was the next to fall in fifth spot after tangling with Czech student Jan Skampa. He took home Euro 78 085. Unfortunately for Skampa his jubilation was to be shortlived, as he himself fell in fourth position for Euro 117 128 after a confrontation with Sarwer went wrong for him.
The three-handed battle went on for over two-and-a-half hours following the Skampa exit, as Canadian player Jeff Sarwer, Pierre Neuville and Antonio Matias fought for supremacy and the big money, playing some of the most exciting poker of the tournament. In the end, it was Sarwer who lost out after going all-in against Matias. He headed for the cashier and a third place Euro 156 170 payday well earned in a creditable performance.
Heads up, Matias enjoyed a significant seven-to-one lead on his Belgian opponent Neuville and it proved to be insuperable despite a brave fightback. The Belgian was ousted in second place for Euro 257 681, and the respect, the trophy and the main prize cash went Matias' way.
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