EPT Monte Carlo: Chouity charge continues all the way to Grand Final title
At about 4.10pm yesterday, the Lebanese player Nicolas Chouity seized the chip lead at the EPT Grand Final in Monte Carlo. There were 16 players remaining and more than a day's play before the end. But at about 9.15pm today, Chouity was crowned the latest champion on the EPT - and in the intervening 29 hours he had not relinquished the lead for even one minute.
Chouity eliminated six of his seven final table opponents to land himself the €1,700,000 first prize that accompanies the winner's trophy in these parts. If winning a poker tournament means beating everyone else, then Chouity, who, as "niccc", qualified for this tournament via a $22 rebuy satellite on PokerStars, took that policy to its extreme.
"I played my best, I ran good, everything went OK and I won," said Chouity, in as accurate and economical summary of the past two days as could be wished for. "This is the best thing that has ever happened to me."
In truth, an eventuality other than a win for Chouity would have been even more surprising. He entered the final table with more than 40 percent of the chips in play. And while those around him spent the day with at least one eye on the payout ladder, which awarded a €100,000 jump in prize-money for each spot higher they could clamber, the scene was set perfectly for the big gun to pick them off one by one.
If those short-stacks were waiting for hands with which to double up, Chouity had the luxury of waiting for the hands with which to knock them out. The full final table coverage, available via the links at the bottom of this post, spells out the blow-by-blow action. But here's the bullet-point version, which pretty much says it all:
All those eliminations left the heads up duel between Chouity and Klinger, a former chess champion from Austria. Klinger had been one of few prepared to get his chips in the middle during the final table, and his willingness to play poker paid dividends.
However, the heads up battle was brief. Klinger got unlucky when his flopped top pair, eight kicker, was counterfeited on the river, meaning he chopped a pot against Chouity. And when he picked up a pair of eights he was willing to get all his chips in pre-flop. Problem: Chouity had aces.
That, of course, was the end of that, and Chouity was not only crowned the new EPT Grand Final champion, but he also got to pose with a pair of aces as his winning hand. That must be nice.
It's also a fitting end to another season on the European Poker Tour, which visited further flung districts than ever before, witnessed 74 days of competition, named another 12 champions without repeat, and will be back again next season for even more.
Congratulations then to Nicolas Chouity, and all the Grand Final Main Event winners, whose names are on the prizewinner's page.
The EPT awards are handed out in Monte Carlo this evening, while the High Roller event continues tonight and tomorrow. Stay tuned here for that.
Here are those links to all of today's action.
PokerStars.tv has video blogs. The photography on PokerStars Blog is ©Neil Stoddart.