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Ramon Colillas Wins The Largest $25,000 Buy-In Poker Tournament In History

Spanish Player Qualified For The Event For Free, Won $5.1 Million After Topping Record Field of 1,039 Entries

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Ramon Colillas won his Platinum Pass to the first-ever $25,000 buy-in PokerStars NL Hold’em Players Championship by finishing first in the Campeonato de España de Poker leaderboard in 2018.

The 30-year-old poker pro from Spain had just $11,054 in live tournament poker earnings prior to the PSPC, which ended up attracting a record-breaking turnout of 1,039 entries to create a prize pool of more than $26.4 million.

The field blew away the previous record of 639 entries for a $25,000 buy-in tournament set at the 2007 World Poker Tour Championship. The tournament featured more than $9 million in added cash, with PokerStars awarding over 300 Platinum Passes to the event, along with a $1 million bonus to the eventual champion.

After five full days of action, it was Colillas who emerged victorious with the title, having turned his free entry into the event into a $5.1 million payday.

“A lot of players were saying this was the most important tournament in history, so now it’s only about happiness and enjoying the moment,” Colillas told PokerStars reporters after his victory.

In addition to the unique PSPC trophy and the massive top prize, Colillas was also awarded 3,360 Card Player Player of the Year points, jumping out to a massive lead in the 2019 POY standings. To put the tournament into perspective, this win alone would have been enough to see him finish in 43rd place in the 2018 POY race, even if Colillas failed to cash the rest of the year. It is likely he will sit atop the leaderboard for quite some time.

Colillas entered the final table in fifth chip position but was just 10 big blinds behind chip leader Scott Baumstein when play resumed. With the average stack to start the day being just over 30 big blinds, the action was sure to heat up quickly.

Julien MartiniThe player that was the hottest for much of the day was 2018 World Series of Poker bracelet winner Julien Martini. He got his streak started by coming from behind to win a massive pot just seven hands into the final table. Marc Rivera had raised to 500,000 from the hijack with the KHeart SuitJHeart Suit. Martini three-bet to 1,325,000 holding the ASpade SuitQSpade Suit on the button. Farid Jattin folded pocket sevens in the small blind and Talal Shakerchi looked down at the AHeart SuitAClub Suit in the big blind. He moved all-in for 5,250,000. Rivera folded and Martini made the call. The board ran out KSpade Suit3Club Suit2Heart Suit10Spade Suit5Spade Suit, giving Martini the backdoor nut flush to knock Shakerchi out eighth place ($509,000). The 2018 Super High Roller Bowl V fourth-place finisher increased his career live earnings to over $6.6 million with the score.

Not long after that, Martini picked up AHeart SuitKClub Suit, raised and called Farid Jattin’s three-bet all-in. Jattin was behind with ASpade SuitJSpade Suit. The flop brought the 6Spade Suit5Spade Suit2Diamond Suit. The turn was the QDiamond Suit, leaving Jattin needing a spade on the river. The 10Club Suit was no help and the Colombian was sent home in seventh place ($746,000).

Colillas scored his first knockout out the final table when he picked up pocket kings and raised enough to put Canadian Marc Perrault all-in for his last 1.5 big blinds. Perrault was in the blind and made the call with 6Club Suit3Diamond Suit. Colillas’ kings held up and Perrault was sent home with $1,012,000 for his sixth-place finish.

Colillas picked up another elimination with another pocket pair. American Jason Koonce had moved all in from the button holding the 10Diamond Suit7Diamond Suit. Colillas called the bet of roughly 5.3 million with the 5Spade Suit5Heart Suit. Koonce did not improve and was sent to the rail in fifth place with $1,304,000.

Collilas had closed the gap on chip leader Julien Martini with his two knockouts, but Martini quickly extended his lead by scoring two more eliminations of his own. Martini had opened for a min-raise from under the fun holding the KDiamond SuitQClub Suit. Scott Baumstein picked up AHeart Suit9Diamond Suit and moved all-in for just over 16.5 big blinds total. Martini called and was rewarded with a king on the flop. His hand held up from there and Baumstein had to settle for $1,657,000 as the fourth-place finisher.

Filipino Platinum Pass winner Marc Rivera was the next to go. He also moved all-in for around 16 big blinds facing a min-raise from Martini, who called with the ADiamond SuitKHeart Suit. Rivera was in trouble with ASpade Suit3Diamond Suit. The board came down QSpade Suit7Heart Suit2Diamond Suit10Spade Suit10Diamond Suit and Rivera was eliminated in third place ($2,168,000).

With that Martini took roughly a 2:1 chip lead into heads-up play. Colillas was able to narrow the gap somewhat over the first 11 hands of heads-up action, but it was the 12th that truly turned things around. With blinds of 250,000-500,000 and a 500,000 big blind ante, Martini raised to 1,250,000 with the 9Heart Suit6Heart Suit on the button. Colillas called with the QClub Suit5Spade Suit and the two saw a flop of AHeart SuitQHeart Suit4Heart Suit. Colillas checked and Martini bet 1,000,000 with his flopped flush. Colillas called and the QDiamond Suit turn gave him trips. Martini fired out 4,600,000 when checked to and Colillas called. The 5Diamond Suit gave Colillas a full house, and he checked again. Martini moved all-in and Colillas called, earning the full double up to take a sizable lead.

Colillas fought off Martini’s efforts to battle back into the match, likely scoring the deciding blow when he picked off a sizable river bluff of Martini’s with just ace high. Martini managed to score a double up with pocket threes against Colillas’ ADiamond SuitJHeart Suit, but the very next hand he shoved all-in with JClub Suit9Club Suit and was called by Colillas’ ADiamond Suit5Spade Suit. The final board of the tournament came down AHeart Suit9Diamond Suit8Heart Suit2Club Suit5Diamond Suit to give Colillas two pair, securing the pot and the title. Martini earned $2,974,000 as the second-place finisher.

Here is a look at the players and POY points awarded at the final table:

Place Player Earnings (USD) POY Points
1 Ramon Colillas $5,100,000 3,360
2 Julien Martini $2,974,000 2,800
3 Marc Rivera $2,168,000 2,240
4 Scott Baumstein $1,657,000 1,680
5 Jason Koonce $1,304,000 1,400
6 Marc Perrault $1,012,000 1,120
7 Farid Jattin $746,000 840
8 Talal Shakerchi $509,000 560

Photo credits: PokerStars/ Neil Stoddart and Carlos Monti.