EPT Deauville - final table report
1- Mats Iremark (Swe) €480,000 (plus €10,000 buy in into EPT final in Monte Carlo)
2 - Mark Boudewijn (Hol) €259,000
3 - Kirill Gerasimov (Rus) €155,500
4 - Theo Jorgensen (Den) €118,300
5 - Ram Vaswani (Eng) €97,700
6 - Patric Martenson (Swe) €76,800
7 - Isabelle Mercier (Can) €60,800
8 - Stuart Nash (Eng) €43,500
Click here for full payouts.
Someone will always win a poker tournament, but sometimes the quest for that win is precisely what costs the pursuer the chance.
A perfect example happened here in Deauville, where Mats Iremark, from Sweden, just won the €480,000 first prize on offer at the end of the latest leg of the EPT - essentially by not losing it. That is not a criticism, because the 23-year-old played some outstanding poker, barely putting a foot wrong for three days of competition. He played when he should have, got out the way when he was beaten, and he is now heading to the EPT Grand Final in Monte Carlo as the French Open champion. Richly deserved.
Mats Iremark: the centre of attention
However, the final table started this afternoon with the names of two players on most spectators' lips. Isabelle Mercier had been around the chip lead for much of the past couple of days and had knocked out Micky Wernick in ninth place last night to reach her first EPT final table. She's won a WPT event and is Canadian by birth, but having spent her poker education as manager of the Aviation Club in Paris, she's as much at home in France as anywhere in the world. They claim her as one of their own - and she has been desperate to show her obvious mettle on the European Poker Tour. She wanted this one. Boy did she want it.
Ram Vaswani, on the other hand, knows all about EPT final tables. In fact, having won the event in Dublin on season one and finished second in Copenhagen in the same series, Vaswani became the first player to sit around the beige felt for the third time. He was chip leader and flying - but there were a lot of immovable objects around the table for this irresistable force to collide with. And it took its toll.
Ram Vaswani: seeking an unprecedented second EPT crown
But, let's begin at the beginning. And it really was the beginning when Stuart Nash, a well-known face in the card rooms of London, came to the final table as the short stack and departed after just two hands. He moved in straight away and picked up the blinds and antes, then he moved in again and was knocked out. He had ace-king, but Theo Jorgensen, from Denmark, was going nowhere with his pair of queens and Nash was out the door.
Stuart Nash: two hands on television, the second his demise
We then plateaued. And we stayed on the flat for milessszzzzzzzz. The short-stacked Russian Kirill Gerasimov, and the Swedish duo of Patric Martensson and Iremark pushed in with great regularity and, when they were called, they doubled up. No one was giving an inch - although Mark Boudewijn, the Dutch master, Theo and Ram were stealing what they could, often from one another. We got to the dinner break with seven remaining - and everyone was in it.
But not for long. Just one round after the break, the blinds were gobbling up the small stacks and Isabelle, now falling into that category, was forced to push in with her pocket nines. Boudewijn couldn't pass his ace-king and when the ace hit on the turn, No Mercy was pleading for some from the river. It wasn't to be, and Isabelle was out.
Trouble on the cards for Isabelle
It looked for all the world that Mats would be following her pretty soon, especially when he found himself with too many chips to justify his previous all-in pre-flop tactics and raised just about three quarters of his stack, only to fold when Boudewijn called and then moved in in the dark. It seemed like a strange play at the time and left the hooded Swede staring at the abyss. But he soon found someone shoving him out of the way and jumping in himself.
Patric Martenson: telling us all about it
It was Patric Martenson, his countryman, and serial EPT money winner. Patric, that guy who sells cars, plays Monopoly and golf to a fearsome standard (see previous EPT final table biographies), was in big trouble with his king ten when Mats was all in with sevens. Another seven on the flop send Patric down to the felt and he was out in a three-way coup with Vaswani and Jorgensen. Ram ended up with quad sixes, enough to beat most hands, I'm sure you'll agree.
Ram had scarcely been below a million in chips all day, but crucially he had never been much higher either. In full flow, Vaswani is one of those exceptional players to watch; when he's called he always seems to have the goods, when he isn't, you just don't know. The word "class" often attaches itself to Crazy Horse, but sometimes class can be blasted.
Vaswani's number is up
Ram knows that there's really only one place to finish on the EPT and that is first. He went for it. He put his chips behind his obvious talent and tried to blow the field away. The key hand came when he raised from the button (no change there) and Theo Jorgensen moved in from the small blind. Ram and Theo had butted heads for much of the day and Ram decided to call this time, approximately 700,000, making a pot of 1,400,000 plus change. Ram had ace-jack and hadn't put Theo on the pocket jacks he now shows.
There was no improvement for the Hendon Mobster and he went out soon after when he couldn't make king-eight prosper against Kirill's ace-jack.
Kirill's story was arguably the most impressive. I don't think I have ever seen a short stack played so perfectly in any of these tournaments. When he won a pot mid way through the final table, Kirill had 270,000 in front of him and it was the most he had ever been sat with through three days of competition.
But no one could knock him out. He knew precisely when to push and when to fold. It was a delight to watch and he had a supporter in high places. "Kirill is one of the best players I have ever seen," whispered Thomas Kremser, EPT tournament director, in my ear during a break. Who was I to disagree? Kirill was still in the mix.
Mark Boudewijn tries to figure out Kirill Gerasimov
So was Theo Jorgensen, but a pause in play changed things for the worse for the throughly impressive Dane. He had ultimately had the better of Vaswani in their personal battle and now Jorgensen was aiming to follow Mads Andersen's Copenhagen success. But Mats Iremark came back from the break and found kings, moved in and Theo found ace-jack. He called and was crippled and was out soon after, busted with nine-six.
Theo Jorgensen: Dane looking for back-to-back Copenhagen wins
The miracle wasn't to be for Kirill, either. Even the rock-solid Muscovite could do little three-handed with neither chips nor cards and had to push with king-ten. He pushed straight into Mats Iremark's ace-jack and that was that.
All over for Kirill Gerasimov
We were left, then, with the two most steady players. Iremark had been moving steadily forward, gradually up to the heads-up chip lead having come to the table placed fifth. Boudewijn, however, had scarcely moved - and when he did, it was in the right direction. He was up to more than a million when he busted Mercier and he was still there now.
Heads-up poker is a peculiar beast and, call me controversial, but it does always come down to the cards. The players that make it to the final two on the EPT are no mugs and they know their aggressive play. They probably know their opponents by the end as well and they share many of the crucial skills. It goes this way and that and then there's a hand. The French Open was not much different.
Boudiwijn was in the lead when a raising war broke out with the board showing a jack and a queen. That's because each player had one of those and it was Mats with the lady. He actually made a straight, then survivied a flush re-draw, and he took all the initiative. He didn't look back.
Mark Boudewijn: leading from the front
When it came, it was an ace-three for the Swede, a jack-ten for the Dutchman. The money went in, the Dutchman went out. Hard luck to Mark Boudewijn, who played a blinder.
Mats Iremark just played better - and it's another title for the Nordics. The money is going back to Sweden.
Next stop Monte Carlo.