EPT Monte Carlo: Nicolas Chouity takes lead into final table
There were two sides to day four of the EPT Grand Final, and you were either on the good side or the bad. It may have been determined by something as random as table draw, or something more rudimentary, like how many chips you had when you first took your seat this afternoon.
Four players arrived at the Salles des Etoile with more than two million chips. Of those four only one, Nicolas Chouity, remains tonight, and he is chipped up with 10,280,000 to lead in tomorrow's final. Kevin Eyster, Matt Perrins and Jean Francois Talbot had high hopes but each kissed goodbye to their Grand Final dreams.
At times today there was a touch of the Fellini. On the TV stage a table of lights, camera and action all the way through. There were all-ins, calls, double ups, celebrations, commiserations and strangely, most of today's eliminations.
The TV table
Contrast that with the outer tables, a dark and difficult place, with only a handful of bust outs, a place of raise-and-take and hanging on as long as humanly (or inhumanely) possible before the blinds and antes took their last bite.
The outer table
But we needed eight men and eight men we got, survivors by finesse or by fortune who'll return tomorrow to do battle in the following shape:
Seat 1: Herve Costa, 1,590,000
Seat 2: Roger Hairabedian, 1,130,000
Seat 3: Aleh Plauski, 1,695,000
Seat 4: Dominykas Karmazinas, 2,285,000
Seat 5: Josef Klinger, 1,170,000
Seat 6: Mesbah Guerfi, 3,670,000
Seat 7: Nicolas Chouity, 10,280,000
Seat 8: Andrew Chen, 3,670,000
Chouity returns to a massive chip lead with the talented Andrew Chen his closest rival along with Mesbah Guerfi. At the other end Herve Costa miracled his way into a new day, while Roger Hairabedian will have the toughest task of all, surviving with little.
For each of the eight, two players had their ideas of EPT glory smashed to pieces.
To his credit Paul Berende wasn't prepared to go down without a fight, even if it did mean departing on the second hand of the day. He pushed with gamble against Claudiu Saizu who showed ace-good. Berende, who went deep in San Remo last week, consoled himself with a trip across the rail and into the high roller event.
From there it was all about the feature table. Manuel Bevand went soon after Berende before Martin Hruby, David Sesso and Claudiu Saizu followed. Ramsi Jelassi played fearlessly in the early stages but would fall in 19th, while Nick Schulman followed in 18th and Talbot in 17th.
Down to the last 16 and anyone with a ticket to the feature table seemed to be facing a death sentence. Kevin Eyster was sent on his way from the outer but that was it. The other seven, including Sami Kelopuro in 12th and EPT double winner last hope Salvatore Bonavena, 11th, all faced elimination in glorious Technicolor, along with Matt Perrins in tenth and Craig McCorkell, who busted on the TV bubble, to bring an end to the day.
That then is your final eight. It's European poker's ultimate prize and it's now only seven eliminations away from being decided. Will Andrew Chen be able to avenge his premature demise in Prague two seasons ago> Could Nicolas Chouity become the first Lebanese player to win an EPT since Joseph Mouawad? The combinations are endless.
See for yourself how things transpired today, complete with the official chip counts and results, with the links below. They'll take you all the way from Berende to McCorkell and back again.
All photography today was courtesy of Neil Stoddart who uses a viewfinder, focus and copyright approach to his art as opposed to point, fire and forget you may find elsewhere. You can also visit our foreigner-friendly blogs, written in German, Italian, Dutch, French and Swedish. Moving images, although not the emotional kind, can be found on PokerStars.tv.
We're now just a day away from finishing the sixth season of the European Poker Tour, the first page of which was written from Kyiv a full eight months ago. Don't miss the last page tomorrow from Monte Carlo starting at noon. We'll see you then.