The Casino Barcelona has been a more than hospitable host for the European Poker Tour’s traditional stop in Spain. The 2023 EPT Barcelona has battled down from the second-largest tournament in EPT history (2120 entries) to only four tables remaining. Familiar names are few on the leaderboard, but that is something that Simon Wiciak hasn’t concerned himself with as he has built a nice lead over second place Daniyar Aubakirov.

A Quick Day at the Tables

To say it was a quick day at the tables (only eight hours) was selling the action in the 2023 EPT Barcelona short. 79 players came back for the festivities on Thursday, with Canada’s Santiago Plante holding on to the lead over the United Kingdom’s Carl Shaw. Everyone left in the €5000 buy-in tournament was guaranteed a €20,550 payday, but absolutely nobody was going to be happy with that, instead intending to play for the big prize of €1,488,000 two days from now.

There were some familiar faces amongst the players at the start of the day, but two of them clashed to ensure there was one less. World Series of Poker bracelet winner Ka Kwan Lau and Canadian Sammy Lafleur would clash in a hand, seeing a J-9-6 flop. Lafleur would commit his remaining 400K to the sizeable pot, but Lau was going nowhere; when the cards hit their backs, Lafleur’s pocket Queens shrunk against the flopped set of Lau’s pocket sixes. An eight on the turn didn’t help, but the flash of paint on the river brought a momentary hope. Alas, it was a King and not the Queen that would help Lafleur, and he was gone from the tournament.

Plante and Shaw, however, weren’t resting on their laurels. Shaw took a large stack of Juan Carlos Vecino’s chips from him, but Plante would do one better in bumping off Aristidis Theodoridis to maintain his lead. As these two men sparred for the lead, other notable players such as Petr Svoboda, Gianluca Speranza, and Vecino would depart the Casino Barcelona.

Wiciak Begins His Run

Wiciak wasn’t beyond using his chips as a battering ram, either. In a key hand with Lucas Scafini, the duo faced a board of 8 8♠ 7 9♠ 2♠. First to act, Wiciak put the pressure on Scafini by announcing all in. With the multiple options that were on the board, Scafini had to consider his action carefully and went through several of the “time bank” chips at his disposal in pondering the situation. Eventually, Scafini decided that discretion was the better option and folded as Wiciak stacked the pot.

The Frenchman would continue to find good fortune. Wiciak would take over the chip lead when he eliminated Kaspar Kaisel when Wiciak’s Q 10 unnecessarily improved to a flush against the mere 6-5 of Kaisel to seize a 1.4 million pot. That upward trajectory would continue through the end of the evening, ensuring that Wiciak would return on Day Five with the chip lead over the final 32 players.

1. Simon Wiciak (France), 4.515 million
2. Daniyar Aubakirov (Kazakhstan), 3.855 million
3. Joao Sydensticker (Brazil), 3.745 million
4. Carl Shaw (United Kingdom), 3.595 million
5. Matthias Duarte (Uruguay), 3.525 million
6. Pedro Lopes (Brazil), 3.405 million
7. Mohamad El Rais (Switzerland), 3.2 million
8. Santiago Plante (Canada), 2.94 million
9. Curtis Knight (Canada), 2.865 million
10. Jose Rodriguez Zurita (Mexico), 2.82 million

With the stacks so close together, no clear-cut player is holding an edge at this point in the event. Wiciak has built a decent stack, but Plante and Shaw will be stalking him on Friday. The action resumes from the Casino Barcelona at noon local time (6 AM Eastern Daylight Time) and will be streamed live on both Twitch and YouTube. It should be an entertaining fight as the newest millionaire is determined on the EPT circuit.

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