At the far end of the tournament room is one table that has been claimed under Irish sovereignty. Two of the nine players are Irish - the only two in the field - and between them they're playing every hand dealt. Team PokerStars Pro Jude Ainsworth needs little introduction. An online tournament destroyer under the name 'j.thaddeus,' the Irishman takes any and every excuse to play a hand. In the big blind? Most players options are call, raise or fold. Ainsworth's are call, raise or re-raise.
Across the table from Ainsworth sits Mick 'BIGMICKG' Graydon, a younger Irishman who is pretty well known on the UKIPT, but less so at the EPT. This season Graydon is making some determined efforts to crack the tour and has scored two deep runs; 24th at EPT Tallinn last August and his first EPT final table just a few weeks ago at EPT Deauville. Graydon entered that final table as the short stack but never really got going: he bust in 8th for €67,200. If Ainsworth's playing motto is 'give me a reason not to play this hand' then Graydon's seems to be the opposite: cautious rather than rocky, tempered rather tight, Graydon carefully navigates and value shoves his way through these fields. Another final table wouldn't be a surprise.
On a board reading 6♥6♣T♣5♠ Graydon shoved all-in for his last 7,000. His opponent, Sylvain Naets, waited some time before making the call with A♦K♠ and found himself a long way behind Graydon's K♥K♣. The river faded to double Graydon up to 28,000. Then it was Ainsworth's turn to play.
Svein Skovli opened from the button to 725 into Ainsworth's big blid. Skovli obviously hadn't read the memo. Aisnworth three-bet to 1,925 and Skovli quickly passed to chip Ainsworth up to a similar amount as Graydon.... whose turn it was next.
Graydon opened the next pot to 750 from middle position and picked up one caller in the shape of Christian Lenz (hijack). Graydon c-bet 1,000 into the 3♣7♠6♦ flop and won the hand. Back to Ainsworth for the next hand.
Nick Bogaert limped under-the-gun and the action passed to Ainsworth on the button who raised to 1,100. Bogaert came back over the top for 2,600 and Ainsworth passed, but j.thaddeus was not done. Ainsworth (cut-off) called a raise from under-the-gun for 800 from Andreas Piesik and called a 1,300 bet on the A♠T♦5♣ flop. Piesik checked the 6♠ turn and Ainsworth bet 1,600. Call.
Piesik checked the 4♠ river over to Ainsworth who didn't think too long before checking behind and showing A♥J♥. Piesik looked quite irritated and slapped down T♣T♥, his flopped set failing to get much value out of Ainsworth who if he was happy to have got away so cheaply certainly didn't show it - he's got an inscrutable poker face. Ainsworth battles on.