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Phillips dominates EPT Barcelona
20-year-old American Carter Phillips took Spain by storm Wednesday winning the PokerStars EPT Barcelona title and the €850,000 first-place prize that went with it.
"The feeling is unreal," the North Carolina native said moments after the win. "The whole tournament it felt like any other tournament to me, even when we got heads up. I think once the river hit the deck, all the emotion came in to me at once and I didn't even know how to react.
"It just all hit me at the same time and it's overwhelming, as you can tell from my reaction."
Phillips came in to the final table with the chip lead, although the boisterous Spanish crowd made local Santiago Terrazas the favorite.
Greek player Georgios Kapalas was the first out, shoving short with K♣ Q♣ and failing to improve against a Marc Goodwin ace.
Canadian Matt Lapossie then said goodbye, somehow imploding after coming into the final eight third in chips.
Sixth place was reserved for Finland's Toni Ojala who five-bet shoved in a massive hand after Phillips flatted a raise then four-bet when Ojala bumped it. The young American made the easy call with aces and Ojala's queens were doomed.
Englishman Asa Smith got short doubling up Terrazas, and although he doubled once, he eventually handed the rest of his stack to Phillips when he shoved from the small blind with a dominated ace.
Romania's Mihai Manole held on to his short stack for most of the final table moving up the pay scale.
In the end, his chips went across the line in dominating position over Marc Goodwin before Europe's top player in 2008 sucked out a flush to bust him fourth.
Three handed play was a fairly quick and disappointing affair for the Spanish crowd when Terrazas shoved with a flush draw, Goodwin called with top pair and it held.
Heads-up started right where the final table did, with Phillips holding a comfortable chip lead on Goodwin.
He built it up to 2:1 before a 60-minute dinner break and returned to crush the Englishman into submission soon after.
Quickly becoming a veteran on tour, Phillips has lost pots for the chip lead before bubbling in both San Remo and Monte Carlo during the EPT's fifth season.
He said the win here in Barcelona was a perfect combination of both running and playing better.
"In those past experiences I had made some bad plays and bad calls," he said. "Over aggression was the big factor in those other tournaments as to why I'd lost and I think, in this tournament, I kept to my aggressive style, but it was much more controlled and I didn't do anything stupid to lose huge pots."
Phillips ascended to a spot among the leaders after Day 2, but his rise to fame and glory in Barcelona actually began with a correct call for his tournament life holding just king high on a double-paired board on Day 1.
"That pretty much set me in the zone the whole week; it was huge confidence boost," he said. "After that I was just so confident in my decisions and going with my gut and my reads. That definitely made my tournament."
Overcome by emotion, Phillips said the massive first-place prize and the title will surely change his life.
"I'm sure it will," he said. "It's a huge sum of money, but not only that; having an EPT title and being an EPT champion, that will change it just as much.
"I'm looking forward to seeing what comes."
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