Until three weeks ago, Juan Pardo had only two small live scores to his name, combining for less than $3,000. Now he's crowned the PokerStars and Monte-Carlo©Casino EPT €10,000 NLH Single Re-Entry champion. Pardo took home the €201,500 first-place prize along with the title and a trophy.
"It's a dream come true. I feel tremendously happy and proud to have achieved this victory," Pardo said.
While the previous numbers may have indicated a poker fairytale, the 24-year-old from Malaga is by no means a one-time wonder. Pardo is an accomplished player whose career has been heavily oriented towards the online scene. He's only just started shifting his focus to the live tournaments but he's already made a clear statement; a new tough force arrived at the high roller scene.
"I'm mainly an online player but I've put in a lot of effort to improve my game in recent years and to take this step to the big live tournaments. My breakthrough couldn't have been better," he said.
Like many fellow Spanish poker pros, Pardo relocated to the United Kingdom in order to continue playing in the shared online liquidity pool. He resides in Cardiff.
Known as "Malaka$tyle" on PokerStars, Pardo used to specialize in a heads-up cash game but transitioned to online tournaments about two or three years ago. His biggest online accolade was a victory in the 2016 Spring Championship of Online Poker (SCOOP) $700 NL Hold'em 6-Handed Event. He topped the 754-entry contest for a $92,761 payday.
Pardo's first steps to the live high stakes action were even more impressive. He stormed to the scene three weeks ago at partypoker MILLIONS in Barcelona where he notched two large cashes in €25k buy-in tournaments, finishing fifth and second for €600,000 combined.
"I got two great results a few days ago in Barcelona, ??but I still had to win here. Now I got my first one. The taste of victory is impressive," Pardo was eager to claim his first live event title.
Winning gets addictive for Pardo who plans to test the live tournament waters thoroughly in the coming months. "I was looking forward to making the jump to the high rollers. I worked hard for that."
Pardo confirmed we'll see him play the Main Event and the €25k High Roller at EPT Monte Carlo. Then he'll return to the online grind as the SCOOP looms around. Then he'll be headed for the World Series of Poker. "A summer full of tournaments is coming. I feel very motivated," he said.
Pardo denied some great opposition here in Monaco on his way to victory. "I had to face good players like Timothy Adams, Stephen Chidwick or Rainer Kempe but, fortunately, things went perfectly today."
The fortune was on Pardo's side mainly in a crucial spot where he tripled up with pocket threes. Pardo shoved his short stack, racing only against Tim Adams' kings after an initial caller Ryan Riess escaped preflop when Adams isolated. A lucky triple up started a comeback that eventually led Pardo to a three-to-one chip-advantage when Adams remained his final rival.
Adams managed to narrow the gap a bit but eventually bowed out in second place after running with king-nine into Pardo's ace-king.
Adams, who dominated the tournament for the first two days, earned €145,000 for his runner-up finish.
"It was a really up-and-down final table for everybody. It was one of the final tables where the worst hands kept winning the all-ins. But that's not something I'm not familiar with so I just kind of tried to hang in there and I got heads-up," Adams said.
With nearly $9 million in live cashes, Adams is much more experienced on the live felt than Pardo. But Adams predicts a good future for the Spanish player who's having a rocket start to the high stakes live scene. "He plays really well. Tricky, aggressive, doesn't give up much. I'm sure he'll keep being around," Adams complimented Pardo.
The €10k Opening event attracted a 71-entry field which created a €688,700 prize pool. The top nine finishers were paid.
EPT Monte Carlo €10k Opening Event results:
1st - Juan Pardo, Spain, €201,500
2nd - Tim Adams, Canada, €145,000
3rd - Ryan Riess, USA, €94,000
4th - Paul Newey, UK, €71,000
5th - Rainer Kempe, Germany, €55,000
6th - Orpen Kisacikoglu, Turkey, €42,700
7th - Stephen Chidwick, UK, €33,500
8th - Vladimir Troyanovskiy, Russia, €26,000
9th - Jan-Eric Schwippert, Germany, €20,000