EPT Monte Carlo: Champions in Monte Carlo

With a full room once again, it's hard to find folks here. The good thing is, there are so many big-name players and former champions of one major event or another, it's well-nigh impossible not to find something interesting to watch. For instance, up in the back left corner of the room, it's hard not to spot the crowds forming around a couple of tables. Joe Hachem and Phil Ivey, both champions in their own right, are drawing the biggest attention.

Phil Ivey, texting before the event begins

Hachem, all smiles as the day begins

A veteran of the Monte Carlo wars, I was interested in finding one young man from the states. Jeff Williams, the University of Georgia student who won here last year, has returned to defend his title. His dad, Dave, is along for the ride. It took both father and blogger a bit to find the lad, nestled in the back corner, a quiet place for title defense.

Nobody puts Jeff in the corner...except Thomas Kremser and a random table draw

One of the most familiar faces of the EPT has already left the building. Marcel Luske was eliminated in the first level in the most horrible way. Holding A-K he was dleighted to see the flop come A-10-A. He bets big, gets a call. The turn was 3, he bets bigger and is called again. River was a 2 (no flush on board). Marcel leads out, his opponent re-raises, then all the chips fly in. Marcel showed his trip aces, top kicker. His opponent, surely must have a full house? Nope, he called all the way with 4-5 and hit the gutshot on the river. It's a cruel game, but Marcel took the beat in his usual polite manner.

Still on his table, though, sits Team PokerStars' Isabelle "No Mercy" Mercier. She's in high spirits, and tells us she is confident of a good run here. She sits next to England's Keith "The Camel" Hawkins, and is tucking into a variety of croissants and rolls. "I really need some fruit," she says. "There must be somewhere in here where I can get a banana or an apple?"

Her day has not been fruitless so far in the poker sense. She's up to 17,000 already after picking off a couple of pots from players perhaps wary of her fearsome reputation. On one, a chap raised her big blind to 150. She calls and sees a flop of K-J-7 hearts. Turn is another 7 and river the 3 clubs. It had been checked to the river, and now Isabelle bet out 250, forcing an instant fold. "I saw he thought I had a monster," she said later. Did she? A knowing wink said it all.

The familiar faces are hard to miss. Here are a few more shots from around the room.

Genius Bill Chen

Vanessa Rousso



Vicky Coren

Quick reports from the field tell us Gus Hansen has just doubled up.

Now...The Ed Report!

The Ed Report

There is a scrum around the table that holds two young phenoms, Phil Ivey and Patrick Antonius. Following their action is nigh on impossible unless you are prepared to stay for the duration.

Instead, we are doing our usual ambles around the room. Already, at this early stage you can see some of the more aggressive players, such as Devilfish and David Benyamine with piles of green 25 chips.

Another of those is ElkY. I watched a pot unfold between him and well-known UK pro, Willie Tann. With 300 in the pot, the flop was showing Kc-7h-2c. A six of diamonds came on the turn. ElkY bet 300, Tann made it 800, and ElkY callled. The two of spades fell on the river. Tann made it 1,000 and ElkY called. His KJ was good enough, putting him up to 21,000.

KidPokerJD, who finished 7th in Barcelona this year, has made the trip over from Fresno. This time, he is without his family, but his girlfriend is here for support.


We should also finally note that Phil Hellmuth, king of fashionable tardiness, has arrive and is already doing on-camera interviews.

Now, to take us into Level 2, the one ubiquitous sight in the poker room.

Brad Willis
@BradWillis in