Tom Middleton claims EPT opener in Barcelona

It’s success in Spain for Englishman Tom Middleton, who took down the EPT season opener in Barcelona for just shy of €1 million over the weekend.

The win, which is Middleton’s third six-figure score on the live scene, sees the Brit’s total career tournament earnings soar to over $2 million. The 26-year-old from Leeds is also notorious online, where he plays under the mantle ‘hitthehole’ and has a number of big cashes – including third in a $500 WCOOP rebuy event.
The seven day event which attracted 1,234 players from around the globe to the Catalan coast, saw a mix of the world’s top poker talent lock horns with the best of the rest at the Barcelona Casino.
Heading into the final day, the remaining eight players returned on Saturday afternoon to commence battle. Middleton began the concluding day in the very same position he had the previous three days as the chip leader. 
It took only 17 hands of play for Cypriot Andreas Christoforou to become the day’s first casualty and he was followed soon after by Eduard Bhaggoe from Holland and Benoit Gury of France. Pasi Sormunen, was the first of the two Finns at the final table to fall short after his K-7 lost out with Luca Fiorini of Italy’s A-K.
After that scalp, Fiorini climbed to become the new chip leader but his place at the top of the leaderboard was short lived after he lost the majority of his stack to Middleton after missing out on a straight flush draw, and only a few hands later he fell in fourth place.
The next big battle saw the two remaining Scandinavians go head-to-head and it was Kresten Nielsen from Denmark who came off the worse after his top pair on the flop stood little chance against Kurko’s flopped straight. The turn and river improved neither players hands and Nielsen had to settle for third place and €440k.
With the final two set and the pair sitting with fairly even stacks a deal was struck which meant the winner would get €942,000 while the runner up would walk away with €750,000. 
In what turned out to be one of the best and closest fought heads-up battles in recent EPT memory, both players played some excellent poker, but it was Middleton who seemed to constantly have the upper hand slowly eating away at his Finnish opponent’s stack. It took a while for the end to come and when it eventually did the blinds had risen to 200,000/400,000/50,000 making it the highest level in the history of the EPT.
The final hand saw Kurko min-raise his button to 800k with Ac-4s. Middleton then re-raised his opponent making it 2 million with 5s-5h. After thinking for a while Kurko decided his Ace was strong enough to go with and moved all-in for his remaining 11.9 million. Middleton didn’t think for too long and made the call. The flop fell Th-6c-7c and a king and eight of hearts on the turn and river meant that neither player improved their hands and it was all over. 
Obviously overwhelmed by the victory, Middleton commented how delighted he was with the win and went on to say that now his plan was to celebrate “at the nearest bar” with his friends. 

Here’s how the final fable finished up:

  1. Tom Middleton – UK – €942,000*
  2. Kimmo Kurko – Finland – €750,000*
  3. Kresten Nielsen – Denmark – €440,500
  4. Luca Fiorini – Italy – €328,000
  5. Pasi Sormunen – Finland – €253,000
  6. Benoit Gury – France – €188,000
  7. Eduard Bhaggoe – Netherlands – €143,000
  8. Andreas Christoforou – Cyprus – €102,430 
*Denotes heads-up deal
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