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Home / Poker / The 4 crucial hands that led Barny Boatman to the EPT Paris title

On Sunday, February 25, 2024, UK poker legend and original Hendon Mob member Barny Boatman took down the European Poker Tour (EPT) Paris Main Event for €1,287,800.

In doing so, Boatman, 68, became the oldest player to win a Main Event in the tour’s 21-year history.

Here are the four most crucial hands that led Boatman to victory.

BOATMAN PICKS OFF AFRIAT’S BLUFF

Level 27 : Blinds 30,000/60,000, 60,000 ante
19 players remaining

This series usually focuses solely on hands played at the final table. But this pot played in the dying moments of Day 4, with 19 players remaining, was simply too important – and entertaining – to skip.

It began with a 130,000 open with KQ from Eric Afriat, a Canadian player with three World Poker Tour titles and a prickly reputation. Hans Erlandsson made the call with two red fives and Barny Boatman defended his big blind with J9.

Afriat knows how to apply pressure

The dealer spread a J83 flop to give Boatman top pair and Afriat a flush draw – and backdoor royal flush draw. He continued for 250,000 when checked to and Erlandsson folded before Boatman called.

The 2 hit the turn and Boatman checked again. “Afriat has declared that he’s going on the offence,” said commentator (and side event winner) Griffin Benger, referring to Afriat’s early table talk. He fired again for 750,000 – just under a quarter of Boatman’s remaining chips. He called.

The pot was already huge when the 2 river landed and Boatman checked again. Afriat asked to see Boatman’s stack and calculated the stack-to-pot ratio was almost equal. With only one way to win, he shoved, putting Boatman to the ultimate test.

For the first time in the tournament – perhaps the first time in his long career – Boatman tossed in a time bank card. But long before his time was done, he announced a sensational hero call that sent the commentary booth into a frenzy.

“That is the biggest pot of the tournament so far!” said a breathless James Hartigan in the booth. “We have a new chip leader, UK poker legend, Barny Boatman!” Hartigan added: “What a call, what a hand, what a result!”

It took Boatman a while to stack all those chips

KAUFMANN SINKS TO BARNY’S BOAT

Level 33 : Blinds 125,000/250,000, 250,000 ante
Three players remaining

The two big stacks belonging to David Kaufmann and Barny Boatman clashed three-handed, flipping the chip lead and beginning Boatman’s uncatchable lap to victory.

Boatman picked up 107 in the small blind and Kaufmann checked the big blind with Q8. The 977 flop smashed Boatman with trips and he started to build a pot right away, leading out for 275,000. With his overcard and backdoor straight draws, Kaufmann stuck around.

The 10 turn gave Boatman a full house and at this point, he slowed down. “Great moment to find a check,” said Nick Walsh in the booth. “It might entice Kaufman to semi-bluff with the up-and-down straight draw.”

That’s exactly what happened as Kaufmann slid out a bet of 1 million. Boatman weighed his options using a time bank card but just decided to call, taking them to the 8 river.

As we could see at home, this wasn’t the best card for Boatman had he planned to check and hope Kaufmann continued bluffing. The German had now paired his eight and seemingly would have no more reason to bluff. 

So Boatman took matters into his own hands and led out for 1.2 million into a pot of 3.3 million. 

Kaufmann had around half the chips in play at the start of the final table

At first, it seemed like Kaufmann had a split decision between calling and folding, but the longer he pondered, the greater the likelihood of a raise became. 

“The only reason he’d [raise] is if he thought Boatman would never use this size if he had a jack,” Walsh explained. Kaufmann would end up raising to 5 million and Boatman didn’t take long to set him all in, forcing a quick fold.

With that, Boatman moved up to 24 million, almost 100 big blinds, and possessed a big chip lead.

FLUSH OVER FLUSH

Level 35 : Blinds 200,000/400,000, 400,000 ante
Three players remaining

David Kaufmann opened to 800,000 on the button with 1010 only for Barny Boatman to wake up with AJ in the big blind. Boatman three-bet to 2.2 million.

“This is exactly what Kaufmann didn’t want –  a big confrontation with the chip leader,” said commentator Maria Ho, highlighting that Aleksejs Ponakovs – the shortest stack – could sit back and watch his opponents battle.

Ponakovs was hoping to ladder

“From an ICM perspective, it would be disastrous to shove here with the tens and get called and be at risk,” Ho added. Kaufmann avoided that with a call.

The flop came all hearts – 9K3 – giving Boatman the nut flush draw. He continued his aggression for 1 million and with a strong heart in both his hand and chest, Kaufmann stuck around to see the Q turn – another overcard to his pocket tens, but one that gave him a gutshot.

Boatman slid out 2 million quickly. “The good news [for Kaufmann] is that he blocks jack-ten,” said Ho. “The ten of hearts is a pretty key card here. But Barny could have sets here, he could have three-bet with ace-x-suited and flopped a flush.”

It was enough for Kaufmann to call and see the 4 river, giving both a flush and Boatman the nuts. He fired 3 million this time, but Ho thought he perhaps let Kaufmann off easy. “I don’t think he can fold for 3 million. He’s not going to love it but he’s getting a pretty good price and only three flushes beat him.”

Joe Stapleton asked: “Is it a mistake to fold for this price?”

“I think so,” Ho replied.

Not a man to make many mistakes, Kaufmann made the call and saw the bad news.

With that, Boatman was up to 103 big blinds, Kaufmann was down to 16, and Ponakovs trailed with nine. 

THE FINAL HAND (AND SECOND OF HEADS-UP)

Level 36 : Blinds 250,000/500,000, 500,000 ante
Two players remaining

In just the second hand of heads-up play, it all came to an end.

David Kaufmann opened to 1 million off his 15-million stack with A9 and Boatman looked down at J2 and 37 million chips in front of him.

“You can mix in a couple of different things here,” said Griffin Benger on the mic. “It’s too strong heads-up to fold, so you can certainly call, but it plays nice as a three-bet too.”

That’s exactly what Boatman did, bumping it up to 2.85 million.

“What do you do with ace-nine?” asked Griffin. “Do you want to put it in for your tournament life for 30 bigs? You just started here! An older gentleman has three-bet you and you’re playing for a difference of 500,000 euros…Do you just shove it in like you’ve been three-bet by any old aggressive pro?”

Would you fold to this guy?

Kaufmann opted just to call and the dealer spread a 9J6 flop, giving both a pair but Boatman the best of it. The Brit continued for 2 million and Kaufmann made the call, leaving himself with less than pot behind.

The 5 hit the turn. “What Kaufmann really didn’t want was a low card like that, something in the deuce to five range where it doesn’t really change the complexion of the board too much,” said Benger.

Things certainly became more complex for Kaufmann when Boatman set him all in, though.

THE GOAT, MAN

He used a time bank. He got a chip count from Boatman. “It’s fine,” he told the dealer. “I call.”

Boatman was a near 9:1 favourite, and there would be no upset. He displayed a confident smile as the dealer put out the Q river, securing him the victory.

“Boatman the GOAT, man!” said an excited James Hartigan. “The oldest EPT champion ever!”

For his victory, Barny Boatman collected €1,287,800 – the largest score of a storied career spanning more four decades.

Read the official report from the EPT Paris Main Event here.

Champion Barny Boatman

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