The Catalan capital of Barcelona, and the Olympic Port in general, is one of the greatest venues to host a major poker tournament. The Casino Barcelona is always rammed to the rafters with lucrative cash game action, the weather is always gorgeous and the Casino is situated alongside a beautiful stretch of beach lined with trendy clubs and eateries.
It’s the reason that 249-players decided to fly to this part of the world when the choice of high profile tournaments had never been better. With the World Series of Poker (WSOP) launching their trial taster of Asia-Pacific, and the WPT Seminole Hard Rock Showdown kicking off in a few days time, there were plenty of reasons to be elsewhere.
But Barcelona is bad baby.
The two starting flights are in the books and 148-players remain from the original mix. Leading the field is a relatively unknown local player called Sergio Fernandez. The Spaniard makes a living playing live cash games in the Casino Barcelona and qualified for the €3,200 + €300 event through one of the satellites that the casino has been running.
Interestingly, it’s a Spanish player who ties for the most WPT events won, and yet we have never had a Spanish winner on Spanish soil. Carlos Mortensen has cashed 18 times in WPT events – winning three of them – all stateside. Whether or not Sergio Fernandez has the legs to go all of the way remains to be seen, but it is unusual for the starting flight chip leaders to not have the stamina to at least make the money. Waiting in the wings to create a Spanish armada are the more experienced Spanish players like Raul Paez, Tomeu ‘Amatos’ Gomilla Romero and the latest shining light of PokerStars, Leo Margets.
There are four former champions in the field and one of them deserves special note. Matt Salsberg had been grinding the American live tournament scene for six-years, in between bouts of entertaining the world as a Producer and Writer of hits shows such as Weeds. Then in 2012, Salsberg decided to pack his pink hoodie, and trademark Beats headphones, and jet off to Europe in search of better fortunes, and find them he did. Salsberg defeating one of the toughest final table line-ups you will get to win the WPT Grand Prix de Paris for $478,415.
Momentum begets momentum, and Salsberg kept the wheels rolling in fine style with two more WPT final tables in the states, before bubbling the final table at the Venice Grand Prix just a few short days ago. All of that WPT run good and skill has pushed Salsberg into joint first place with Paul Volpe at the head of the WPT Player of the Year (POY) leader board. If Salsberg manages to cash in this event, he will be giving himself a great opportunity to join the likes of Daniel Negreanu and Bertrand ‘ElkY’ Grospellier as a WPT POY.
But there is a very long way to go before we reach the business end of a competition that is the third largest WPT event that Barcelona has ever experienced. We are only at Day Two after all.
Day Two starts at 14:00 (CET) and we will be bringing you interviews, and news, right here at CalvinAyre.com.