€50,000 Super High Roller
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Spaniard Leading in Spain: Mateos Bags Day 1 Lead as Field Looks Strong Once Again

Adrian Mateos
Adrian Mateos

It's a massive poker tournament in Spain, so it's only natural that Adrian Mateos should be leading the PokerStars Championship Barcelona €50,000 Super High Roller after the first day of play.

Spain's preeminent poker prodigy turned his 250,000 starting stack into 963,000 by day's end, giving him the lead out of the 54 players who made it through the day.

With all of the incredible success Mateos has experienced at such a young age — Mateos is still just 23 — it's perhaps a bit surprising that he hasn't put up more big results in his backyard here in Barcelona. While he has some decent finishes, including 12th place in last year's €50K here, he has yet to make a big final table.

He has, however, had plenty of success in €50K events. Along with the aforementioned cash, Mateos booked a win at PokerStars Championship Monte Carlo for €908,000. He also chopped with Dietrich Fast in the $50K at Seminole Hard Rock this March, banking over $400,000.

Of course, there's still a long way to go in this one as the 54 left represent more than half of the 81 total entries. Players can still enter up to the start of Day 2 on Sunday.

That 81-entry turnout means another strong field has already been secured. It's the third straight year this event has topped 80 entries, and the number is already well past the total of 64 in Monte Carlo, widely renowned as a destination that draws some of the most affluent fields on the planet.

Joining Mateos in the 900,000 club were [Removed:412] (916,000) and Dan Colman (902,000).

Steve O'Dwyer also finished with one of the biggest stacks at 702,000. The American transplant has been one of the most successful players on the high roller circuit in recent years. He looked like he might bag yet another chip lead but slid late.

He did show down one brazen bluff late, putting Daniel Dvoress all in for about 200,000 into a pot of about 320,000 on a king-high board that contained three diamonds and a pair of kings on fourth street. Dvoress couldn't find the call button, and O'Dwyer showed him ace-queen of spades.

Some of the players most relieved to see the end of the day — and the end of their opportunities to reenter — were PokerStars Team Pro Daniel Negreanu, PokerStars Championship Panama €50,000 Super High Roller champ Ben Tollerene and Mikita Badziakouski. All three have invested three shells into this contest, meaning they'll be looking at needing a final table finish to book a profit.

Daniel Negreanu
Daniel Negreanu

Negreanu had a tough early go of it but managed to double up late when Iranian businessman Ahadpour Khanghah tried to get a check-raise bluff shove by the Canadian on a king-high board with a pair of spades out. Negreanu sighed and called with a pair of nines and a flush draw, but Khanghah could only muster an unimproved pair of fours in the hole and shipped over a double when the river bricked.

Other players making it through included Erik Seidel, Isaac Haxton, Charlie Carrel and PokerStars Team Pro Igor Kurganov.

They'll get back to the action at 12:30 p.m. local time on Sunday at 3,000/6,000/1,000, so head on over to the PokerStars Blog for more live coverage then, and come back to PokerNews for more features.

Taguri: Adrian Mateos

Talking Numbers With Neil Johnson

Neil Johnson
Neil Johnson

The PokerStars National Championship at the PokerStars Championship Barcelona had a massive €4,000,000 guaranteed prize pool. For PokerStars to not lose money on the event, a total of 4,124 entries were needed. Compared to last year's 3,447 players, that was a serious increase needed to hit the guarantee.

With players now given the option to reenter once, compared to the freezeout model last year, that goal would be a bit easier to reach. Still, the tournament needed to be the biggest in PokerStars history to hit the guarantee.

Over the four starting days, 3,626 unique players participated in the €1,100 PokerStars National Championship in Barcelona. With 931 of them reentering after busting, the total came to 4,557 entries, making it the biggest live tournament attendance in PokerStars history.

PokerStars' Department Head of Live Poker Operations Neil Johnson was all smiles as he talked about the event. Introducing the single-reentry element to the event, something already common at the very popular PokerStars Festivals this year, was a logical step for Johnson.

"We're not a fan of the whole unlimited reentry thing where you can fire as many times as you can," he said. "We didn't want to do a bullet every flight, so we came up with the two shots however you want to use them."

With the math done for this particular event, it became clear this was going to be big pretty quickly.

"We applied the data to last year's model," he said. "Based on our numbers, we would get about 4,000, or 4,100 entries. We said, why don't we get really excited about this one and let's toss a €4 million guarantee on it. Let's really go for it!

"We felt confident that the addition of the second bullet would help push it through. Not anyone expected 4,500, though."

A lot of chips in play in the National Championship

With 4,557 entries, this event is a success in every aspect. What's also interesting and a success is the gap between the starting days. Traditionally, the gap between starting days is big, which makes planning hard. Here, in the National Championship, Day 1a and 1b had 50-minute levels, while Day 1c had 30-minute levels and Day 1d's levels were 25 minutes long. Day 1d's levels were initially planned to be 15 minutes long, but because both Day 1c and Day 1d sold out, the latter's day's levels were extended a bit.

Johnson is looking at the data and deciding if a similar thing is needed for the event in Prague where the difference between starting days is even bigger.

While 4,557 players is a fantastic feat for the poker festival, it could have even been bigger, had PokerStars not capped entries.

"The 4,500 is fantastic, it's encouraging for next year to see if we can get to 5,000," Johnson said. "We would've come really close if we didn't have to cap 'em off.

"Unfortunately, it reached a point where our models predicted we might have too many players returning for Day 2. Eventually you're gonna run out of tables, there's only so many we can get from the casino."

In order to hedge, to be on the safe side of things, they put the cap in for Day 1c and Day 1d.

"It's a great problem to have, but it's still a problem," Johnson said. "Next year, we'll be even better prepared."

With now all the data from this year saved and ready to be analyzed, Johnson was already thinking out loud about options to make the event even bigger in 2018.

"If the levels would be 40 minutes long, we could've played till the money on the Day 1s," he said.

Playing till the money on Day 1s is something many tournaments do these days, the WSOP this summer being one of them. It has all sorts of advantages, according to Johnson:

"If we only bring back 15 percent of the field, we can now go to 7,000 players and still be able to get 15 percent back in the room. Lots of the players say they want to play till the money on Day 1, especially if it's a multi-bullet tournament. For others, though, it's the opposite. They're like, 'I pay €1,000, I don't want to be done in 10 hours.'

"Besides, if you get to the money on Day 1, you don't have a 700-player bubble, which is an issue. It's a very interesting one to figure out. I'm talking to a lot of players, getting a lot of feedback on how they feel about it."

Those are all first world problems for Johnson, and they give him enough to do after the event is over and planning for the next one starts. But for now, it's time to enjoy Barcelona as the festival has just gotten started. The National Championship has broken the all-time attendance record for a PokerStars event, proving poker players like the Catalonian capital.

Johnson isn't here to play, but he too enjoys Barcelona a great deal.

"This stop has a tremendous amount of things going for it," he said. "It's a beautiful city, the casino is right on the beach. The opportunities for food, clubs, and hotels are endless. Everything is here.

"When you put all the things together, [such as] how much does it cost to eat, how much does it cost to travel here, what's the weather like, and what is the venue like... This stop ticks virtually every box for what you can want from a poker tournament."

The fact that it's halfway through August helps too. A month has passed since the WSOP, and players are ready to play again. And with the WCOOP right after, players can make it a nice long stint of poker starting here in Barcelona.

"It's a confluence of circumstances that allows Barcelona to shine," Johnson said. "It shines on its own, but you put it in August and it really shines. I think Barcelona just has a ton going for it."

With the National Championship breaking records, expectations are high for the rest of the festival. More players than ever before qualified for the Main Event, a good sign for the premier poker event of the year here. So far, all the numbers are looking good.

A packed room in Casino Barcelona on Day 1 of the National Championship

Staples Working Hard for Prop Bet at "Barcelona Boot Camp"

Jaime Staples
Jaime Staples

Poker players throughout the world look forward to PokerStars' yearly trip to Barcelona, eagerly awaiting the chance to wine, dine, club, relax and hit the beach in one of Europe's finest cities. There's grind, to be sure, but few places on the poker circuit offer better ways to let loose and get away from the stresses of life.

Not for PokerStars Team Online's Jaime Staples, though. Here at PokerStars Championship Barcelona, his days are going to be filled with even more sweat than usual as he grinds through workout after workout in his quest to win his share of a $150,000 prop bet with high roller extraordinaire Bill Perkins.

The terms of the bet were laid down in March, when Staples and his brother Matt agreed on a prop to attempt to reach the same weight in one year. Jaime tipped the scales at 305 back then, and his smaller, much skinnier brother was at 130 pounds. They put up $3,000, getting 50-1.

Almost five months later, although Staples came into Barcelona feeling great about his chances after dropping north of 50 pounds, he isn't resting on his laurels. He brought his personal trainer along for the ride and is actually ramping things up.

"Right now, we're doing a Barcelona boot camp," Staples said. "Every day in the gym plus cardio, which is pretty intense."

The day-to-day work for Staples begins almost as soon as he's out of bed. On a normal day, he wakes up and immediately gets going with some form of exercise. Most weeks, Staples spends two days lifting in the gym and does cardiovascular work on all other days.

Diet-wise, Staples is eating two, sometimes three meals a day, with smoothies accounting for the rest of his consumption, including one for breakfast after his workout. He's shooting for a total of 1,450 calories, with 120 grams of protein, 80 grams of fat and 40 grams of carbs.

Since most adult males burn over 2,100 calories each day just going through their daily motions, that's putting Staples at quite a calorie deficit and fueling his weight loss as he plummets down the scale.

He started slow when it came to the exercise regimen.

"It was a lot of just walking," he said of the early grind. "I'm a 300-pound guy, so just walking for two hours would get a sweat up. As I get healthier now, we're starting to hit the bike and pick up the pace."

Staples plans to begin jogging when he gets down to about 210 pounds. That will leave him about 30 short of his ultimate goal, as he and his brother hope to meet between 180 and 185.

"We're just trying to stay consistent," Staples said. "It's a very long-term bet. Keeping it up month after month after month is the challenge."

He believes he's only slipped up and punted off the diet with "poor choices" about four times since March.

That's despite a travel schedule that's taken Staples all over the world, hitting a number of PokerStars events and spending no time in his native Canada since January.

Jaime Staples

Many poker players have struggled with unhealthy lifestyles. Life following various circuits naturally involves a ton of travel, which means time away from healthy home cooking and more fast food and other processed meals. Making it through a full day of tournament poker usually means 10 hours or more of exhaustive grinding at the felt, killing the motivation to put in work in the gym.

Staples, who described his diet as "chicken and vegetables," doesn't see life on the road as an excuse to fall into unhealthy habits.

"I find there are choices available that fit within what we're doing pretty much everywhere," he said.

If poker players or fans have the desire to get into a healthier lifestyle, Staples' advice for them is to start slow. Begin by simply going through the motions on a normal week of eating meals, counting how many calories you're consuming as you go, he said.

"You don't have to put any judgment on it," he said. "But when I would eat a whole pizza — like I used to — knowing that represented two days worth of calories. You just start to feel it and understand what a good day and a not-so-good day is."

Being armed with that knowledge has been a huge change in Staples' life as he goes through what he called the biggest struggle he's ever had.

"Pre-bet, it wasn't really something that I spent a lot of time thinking about," he said. "I was just kind of living life as I wanted to without any sort of plans, which is not ideal.

"What's really changed for me is I'm more aware. Understanding how many calories I'm eating in things, how many fats, how many carbs, how much protein. Trying to hit those benchmarks every day has allowed me to really understand how to move up and down the scale."

Knowledge is power, and Staples has gained plenty of it in his five-month journey toward his 180-pound goal. With a hard 10 days of grinding ahead of him in Barcelona, he'll be one step closer to reaching that goal and pocketing $75,000, and he's laid out a road map for anyone else to follow if they want to get healthier or just win weight loss prop bets.

Taguri: Bill PerkinsJaime Staples

Gieles Not Scared by Terror Attack

Luuk Gieles
Luuk Gieles

Thursday, Aug. 17, a terror attack hit Barcelona. A minivan rammed into people on La Rambla, a street popular with tourists. Thirteen people lost their lives and more than 100 were injured in the attack. The news of the attack quickly spread through social and traditional media. PokerStars Championship Barcelona was in full swing with prelim events to the Main underway and the casino was packed with poker players from all over the world.

Dutch high-stakes grinder Luuk Gieles wasn't in the casino, but he was in Barcelona when the attack happened. A push notification by a Dutch newspaper alerted Gieles of what was going on. Gieles, hanging out at the beach with fellow poker players Jasper Wetemans, Raoul Refos, and some non-poker friends from back home, quickly realized it was serious.

"At first, it wasn't hundred percent clear it was an attack, we just knew a van had driven into people," he said. "We immediately thought of an attack, but we weren't sure at that point. Shortly after, it became clear it was an attack and had taken place in the middle of the Ramblas."

Where to hide was all of the sudden a proper question for Gieles and his friends to ask themselves. What if the attackers would come to the beach next?

"We immediately started watching our surroundings to see what we would do if they came here," he said. "We had the plan to run into the sea and hide behind the rocks. It's a weird moment if you have to think about something like that."

After the initial shock, Gieles called his mother to let her know he was safe. Right after, he alerted his brother to not leave their AirBNB and join them at the beach just yet. They agreed to wait a little to see what would happen.

A story did the rounds on twitter that there was a second attack, taking place at the beach. Gieles read that too but didn't fear as he didn't see anything that indicated that story was true. The group did decide to leave the beach and await further developments in the hotel close to the casino, which had barricaded the entrances with cars.

Despite being close to the point where mayhem ruled the streets, Gieles wasn't all too frightened.

"It was just weird to witness all of it," he said. "But I must say, I wasn't really afraid or anything. It was bizarre, I'm very sad it happened."

Three days of mourning have been declared and a lot of the festivities in the city have been canceled. PokerStars Championship Barcelona continues, though in a bit more subdued and modest fashion. Extra security measures are in place. All bags are searched upon entering the casino. A minute of silence was held the day after.

Despite the horrible events of Thursday, Barcelona remains one of Gieles' favorite cities in the world. The sunny beach, great weather and good food are some of the things that get Gieles to Barcelona every year. The relaxing at the beach part is over for Gieles, as he intends on spending most of his remaining time in the tournament rooms. He's currently playing the €50,000 Super High Roller and has the Main Event, two €25,500 Single-Day High Rollers, and the closing €10,000 High Roller marked in his agenda.

"Poker is going well. I have a lot of confidence, and I have a feeling I'm going to do well this week!" Gieles said with a smile as he returned to his seat in the biggest tournament of the festival. "You'll see!"

PokerStars EPT Barcelona High Roller Champions


The High Rollers and Super High Rollers are a staple on the PokerStars tours, the PokerStars Championships and the European Poker Tour that preceded it all have had multiple per stop. The event here in Barcelona is no different. In fact, more High Rollers are planned than ever before with 2 instead of just 1 Single-Day €25,500 High Rollers.

The EPT Barcelona has had high rollers ever since Season 7 back in 2010. Last year, Fedor Holz came out of "retirement" for this event and won it, beating Sam Greenwood heads up.

Here's a look at the winners and players finishing runner up in the biggest tournaments in Barcelona:

72010€10,00036Fernando Brito€127,500Juha Helppi€127,500
82011€10,00067Philipp Gruissem€234,500Jean-Baptiste Tomi€147,400
92012€10,000111Laurent Polito€270,229Alex Bilokur€295,451
  €50,00064Dan Smith€962,925JC Alvarado€788,675
102013€10,000180Thomas Muehloecker€390,700Daniel Negreanu€263,800
  €50,00050Vitaly Lunkin€771,300Erik Seidel€557,100
112014€10,000393Ihar Soika€747,200Jason Mercier€473,500
  €50,00077Olivier Busquet€896,434Daniel Colman€843,066
122015€10,000506Mustapha Kanit€738,759Kuljinder Sidhu€640,000
  €25,000152Martin Finger€865,900Mark Teltscher€586,500
  €50,00099Sylvain Loosli€1,224,000Dzmitry Urbanovich€841,500
132016€10,300591Connor Drinan€849,200Mihails Morozovs€616,840
  €25,500165Pratyush Buddiga€690,275[Removed:17]€704,755
  €50,000102Fedor Holz€1,300,300Sam Greenwood€903,600
Fedor Holz won the €50,000 Super High Roller in Barcelona last year