Give it to Connor Drinan, a man who likes to win in Barcelona.
By almost any measure, this was a huge EPT Barcelona festival. Using the yardstick of the €10,000 High Roller, it was a monstrous record-breaker. By the time the buy-ins stopped, there were 591 entries for what was essentially a last chance big-money side event. It drew most of the big names and a bunch of people who decided to take a shot at a first prize worth more than €800,000. One of them was Connor Drinan, a big winner who hasn’t claimed a title since 2014.
When it ended tonight, Drinan had claimed the trophy for himself.
Drinan, a man who prior to tonight had more the $9 million in live winnings, hadn’t won a live tournament in two years. His last victory was here in a side event in 2014. Nevertheless, since that time he has won millions in big money tournaments, and tonight he banked another €849,200. He did so while well-lubricated at the end.
“I drank a lot of beer, and that helped,” Drinan said. “I ran good and won my all-ins.”
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When the final day of this event began, it was Ilkin Amirov’s to lose. He came as the leader of the final 36 players and held that lead as we saw luminaries like Mike McDonald, Natasha Barbour, Joseph Serock, and Davidi Kitai eliminated. Then, as play entered the last stages before the final table, Amirov tangled with Ari Engel and slipped from his position of advantage. He was short-stacked by the time he hit the final table, and he didn’t recover. Even after he picked up K♣K♦, he couldn’t manage to hold against the big-stacked Kyle Keranen’s A♥Q♣. Amirov was forced to be satisfied with a ninth place finish and €95,720.
After a protracted contest of eight-handed play, Pascal Hartmann was down to 1.3 million. He had to make a move, and he decided to do it with 8♣7♣. His timing was off. Patrick Leonard woke up with K♦K♣ in the big blind, Hartmann never caught up. Though his smiling picture would belie the reality, Hartmann busted short of the big money and left with €124,400.
There isn’t a lot of sympathy to go around in poker. It’s a commodity like saffron. If you want it, you have to pay a serious premium. Patrick Leonard paid more than most. On two nearly back-to-back hands, Leonard got simply destroyed by bad luck. The first saw him flopping top set and losing to a runner-runner straight. Minutes later, he picked up pocket queens and ran right into pocket kings. After having the chip lead as part of his short-term memory, he was gone in seventh place for €169,700. That one is going to sting for a while.
Barely any time at all passed before Joseph Cheong got it in from the small blind. The one-time November Niner held J♣2♣ which Connor Drinan looked up with A♣4♥. Cheong didn’t improve, but still managed to bank a respectable €233,300 for sixth place.
The battle of attrition continued until the very end of the level when longtime grinder Ari Engel fell victim to a battle of the blinds. Connor Drinan pushed all-in from the small blind and Engel snap-called with A♠10♣. The problem was the run-out. Drinan flopped a nine to match his J♠9♣, and that was good enough for the win by the river. Engel’s fifth place cash earned him €307,900.
When it came time for Oleksii Khoroshenin to go, it took a while. Seriously, his final decision took nine minutes.
He limped the button, Connor Drinan completed, and Mihail Morozovs checked in the big. When the flop came down K♦A♥8♣, Drinan had already checked dark. Morozovs cheked in turn, and Khoroshenin came in for 300,000. That’s when Drinin raised to a million. Morozovs bailed, but Khoroshenin made the call. On the 2♣ turn, Drinan came out for 1.1 million and Khoroshenin called again. Why? He had A♦10♥. With five million in the pot, the river fell as the 3♦, Drinan pushed. He covered Khoroshenin. After staring back and forth between the payout board and Drinan for nearly ten minutes, Khoroshenin called to see Drinan’s A♦K♠. Fourth place earned him €396,700.
Kyle Keranen had been the chip leader a couple of times throughout the day, but the latter stages of play ate away at his stack. Down to 2.8 million, after Morozovs raised from the button, Keranen pushed all in from the big blind with A♥2♥. It was the wrong time. Morozovs had J♣J♦, and Keranen didn’t catch up.
It wasn’t what he was looking for, but he won €496,440 for his third place finish.
When play got heads up, here’s how the chip counts looked:
Connor Drinan – 15.375M
Mihails Morozovs – 14.225M
After about an hour of heads-up play, Drinan sealed the deal. Morozovs limped and Drinan checked his option. The flop came 10♥6♣4♠ and Drinan checked, letting Morozovs in for a 700,000 bet. Drinan then raised it 1.7 million, only for Morozovs to then four-bet jam all-in for only slightly less than what Drinan had. Drinan took one look at his cards and called.
Morozovs – 10♦J♥
Drinan – 6♠4♥
Drinan had hit a big blind special at the most crucial time. His two pair was ahead of the one pair, and stayed that way on the K♠ turn and Q♣ river. It meant one thing: Drinan had just won his first title in two years. It came with a trophy and €849,200.
Thanks for following along with us for the past two weeks. Stay tuned for our World Championship of Online Poker coverage coming up soon, and be sure to join us for more EPT action in October when the tour’s penultimate event hits Malta.
Once again, congratulations to Connor Drinan for the big win tonight.
Goodnight and goodbye from Barcelona.
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