EPT London: Mouawad takes the lot

Here's a list of poker players, who are also members of an exclusive club.

Brandon Schaefer (USA); Jeff Williams (USA); Gavin Griffin (USA); Magnus Petersson (Sweden).

As of tonight, there's another name to add to the subscription list: Joseph Mouawad. He comes from Lebanon and he's the most recent champion of a European Poker Tour event who won his seat in the tournament after succeeding in a PokerStars.com satellite event.

Joseph Mouawad: the latest EPT champion

It's only exaggerating the truth slightly to say that these are the people who stump up about the equivalent of a small blind on a cash table and turn it into the equivalent of ten years' wages for the average banker. Like turning a toothpick into a lumberyard, as one poker sage once described it.

Mouawad won £611,520 in today's tournament in London, the second stop-off during season four of the EPT. He beat 391 other players, who each parted with £5,200 for their seat in the Grosvenor Victoria casino. But only Mouawad, a property developer from Beirut, can walk out onto the Edgware Road as the new champion. And with that chunk of cash in his pocket.

We convened at 3.30 p.m, with the following people holding the following chips:

Florian Langmann - Germany - 927,000
Joseph Mouawad - Lebanon - 780,000 (PokerStars cash qualifier)
Marcel Baran - Germany - 583,000 (PokerStars cash qualifier)
Josh Egan - New Zealand - 477,000 (PokerStars double shootout qualifier)
Antony Lellouche - France - 466,000
Paul Mendes - England - 282,000
Ian Cox - England - 234,000
Fredrik Haugen - Sweden - 190,000 (PokerStars cash qualifier)

All eyes were on Florian Langmann, the reigning German poker champion, who came to the final table with the chip lead. But neither he, nor anyone else around the table, was willing to put too much at risk during the early stages, and that allowed the young Swede named Fredrik Haugen to haul his way up the chip ladder.

Fredrik -- a 19-year-old PokerStars qualifier (surprise, surprise) -- was the short stack, but shoved it in time and again early in the day to surrender that ignominous title.

Ian Cox, from Poole, England, was the victim of many of these powerful plays and soon found himself peering over the shortest stack. Without many other options, he pushed it in from the button behind king-seven. Florian Langmann called from the small blind with king-three, a dominated hand. But a three on the flop ended it for Cox.

Next out was the only other remaining Briton in the field: Paul Mendes, from London. In each of the preceding three seasons, the London leg of the EPT had always produced a home champion, John Shipley, Mark Teltscher and Victoria Coren.

But when Mendes's king-ten couldn't overtake the ace-king of Antony Lellouche, the run of British champions was over.

That left six, and the big stack was still Langmann's. But not for long. Mouawad had played solidly throughout all three days so far, but had also demonstrated a keen ability to change gears when the situation demanded it.

Sensing an opportunity here, Mouawad, who has played poker for 15 years, put his entire tournament life on the line with ace-king, calling a huge bet of Langmann's. The German held 4-4 and was visibly sickened by the call, even more so when an ace flopped and a monster pot, the largest of the tournament so far, went to Joseph.

Joseph's stack contained more than two million in chips and that allowed him to pick off some of the remaining players. It was barely a ripple in the Atlantic for Joseph to call Anthony Lellouche's all in with 23,000, the Frenchman having been crippled in a massive pot against Marcel Baran, another PokerStars qualifier from Germany.

Mouawad only had jack-two, but had hit both on the flop. Lellouche's ace-five had been outdrawn and he was out the door.

That left five players, four of whom had qualified on PokerStars. There was Mouawad, of course, Marcel Baran, Fredrik Haugen and Josh Egan, from New Zealand, all of whose adventure began on the online tables of PokerStars.

But when something had to give, it was Haugen. Florian moved all in pre-flop, clearly just hoping to pick up the blinds and antes. But he ended up picking up much more: Haugen called with ace-jack, which couldn't retain its lead against Langmann's queen-ten.

Haugen took £124,342 for fifth place, which is a lot of buy-ins in cyberspace.

So, down to four. And one of them, Josh Egan, must have been licking his lips. Egan, known as Tycoon_Kid on PokerStars, is something of a specialist in single-table events. Proof? Well, he won back-to-back double shoot-outs to earn his place in both the Barcelona and London EPTs. That, essentially, is winning four sit n goes in a row, which the number-crunchers have determined is a 6,642 to one shot.

However, he couldn't quite make it one in a million, or so, when Florian Langmann managed to get all Josh's chips in the middle behind king-jack. Langmann had aces - the first time today, he claimed - and they stood up. The Tycoon_Kid is on his way back to New Zealand with £152,880. Someone else can do the calculations as to how impressive a mark up that is, but his initial outlay was only $215.

That left three players, which quickly became two. Marcel Baran, another PokerStars qualifier, might have been quiet at the table, but had nonetheless made all the right moves when necessary, getting his chips in when ahead, keeping them out the way when behind.

His elimination hand was no different, although his pocket fours were only a marginal favourite over his countryman's king-seven. And Langmann, who had lost a huge pot with fours earlier in the day, also watched them outdrawn again, this time to his profit. An ace flopped and Marcel missed his two outs: he was heading back to Germany with £203,840.

So, we were heads up. It was Lebanon versus Germany, and neither was going anywhere fast.

As in most heads-up battles, it was this way and that, but Joseph never really surrendered his chip lead. It all ended when both players limped to a flop and hit a pair. But Joseph's queens were bigger than Florian's nines. And another queen turned to give Joseph the money.

And there ended the EPT London, where PokerStars qualifiers ruled the roost. The four who made the final table ended up with more than a million pounds between them.

Anyone know a property developer who might know a good spot for a lumberyard?


Joseph Mouawad, winner

"It was a great experience; I didn't expect it at all. It was fun and a big achievement and I went up against some good players. But I never thought I'd win the championship.

"I've played casinos in Lebanon where a lot of people are starting to play. People know about Joe Hachem who's from Lebanon."

On the call with ace-king:

"We talked about the hand in the break and he said: 'How can you call with ace king?' I said: 'How can you go all in with a pair of fours?' But at the time I thought 'what the hell' and I played my intuition."

"Sometimes you get nervous but again you get used to it. He had more experience than me so I played my game. I thought if it happens it happens."

"I promised my son I'd buy him a car, so he'll get a car."

Florian Langmann, runner-up

"There was always a chance I could win, even with the short stack. At one point [Joseph] had all the chips while the others had just a few hundred thousand each. I had to push in all the time. Then Antony made his move so I waited until he went out.

"Heads up is always a gamble. He played very strangely and I tried to hit something but I didn't. I'm always trying to win but you don't expect it. This is really great."

EPT London final table results and payouts:

1st -- Joseph Mouawad -- Lebanon -- £611,520 (PokerStars cash qualifier)
2nd -- Florian Langmann -- Germany -- £346,528
3rd -- Marcel Baran -- Germany -- £203,840 (PokerStars cash qualifier)
4th -- Josh Egan -- New Zealand -- £152,880 (PokerStars double shoot-out qualifier)
5th -- Fredrik Haugen -- Sweden -- £124,342 (PokerStars cash qualifier)
6th -- Antony Lellouche -- France -- £97,843
7th -- Paul Mendes -- England -- £77,459
8th -- Ian Cox -- England -- £57,075

Click HERE for complete list of payouts.

Pictures (c) Neil Stoddart.

Brad Willis
@BradWillis in