A bad day for monkeys as Arnaud Mattern shines at EPT Tallinn
It's traditional to tell a performer to 'break a leg' before he takes to the stage, but it's something we can't say to Arnaud Mattern because he already has broken his leg in an ill-advised tennis match in Las Vegas during the recent WSOP. Instead, I suppose a more conservative bon chance will have to do for the French Team PokerStars Pro, who returns for Day 4 of EPT Tallinn tomorrow as one of the chip leaders.
The reason for all this bonhomie from us grumps here on the PokerStars Blog is not just because Mattern is one of our prized performers, but more so because he has a real chance of becoming the first ever double EPT champion.
There's been a monkey on the back of every former EPT winner (57, count them), with none able to repeat their achievement, despite several close calls. Mattern, with 1,155,000 chips at play's end tonight, has a very good shout. Come on, Monsieur Mattern, we don't care about animal rights; kill that cheeky chimp once and for all. We never want to see it again.
Mattern, who won EPT Prague back in Season 4 for just over $1million, came from nowhere in the last few levels of play to be the first to break through the million-chip barrier. Having built up a stack with some power plays that included busting fellow Team PokerStars Pro Vadim Markushevski, Mattern moved to a table that was already graced by Luca Pagano (more on him in a little bit) and Jonathan Weekes, who began the day as chip leader.
It wasn't long before Mattern won a succession of big pots, including one against Weekes and another against Eddie Tasbas, the Swede whose impressive beard belies his age. He was only 21 last week.
While Mattern gives his large caliber, monkey-hunting blunderbuss a polish tonight, there are those determined that it should be unnecessary for him to use it. As well as Weekes (872,000), the Serbian Perica Bukara, who was Day 1B chip leader, has his own eyes on the title and €400,000 first prize here in Tallinn. He sits with 1,326,000 and the overnight chip lead.
The other main challenger is Konstantin Bilyaver, who soared to 1,240,000 by the end of play after an extraordinary hand on Mattern's table. On a 9♠A♥[10c] flop, Bilyaver, Steven van Zadelhoff and Chady Merhej were all in. The reason for this apparent madness?
Van Zadelhoff: A♦9♦
So set over set, over two pair. The turn and river blanked, more or less tripling up the man from Russia.
Team PokerStars Pro Ivan Demidov, our new best friend because he reads our updates on his iPad between hands, is another who will sleep well tonight. He was a real force in the early skirmishes today, then lost half his stack in a massive hand against Day 1A chip leader Ali Tekintamgac. The German's kings overtook Demidov's aces when a king hit the flop. But while Tekintamgac went out in 36th for €7,200, Demidov got back in it to end the day with 729,000. Johan Storakers from Sweden was another strong finisher with 656,000.
But for all those happy faces, there were others who were left looking distinctly grumpy - or at least a little unhappy. Luca Pagano had made it to his record-lengthening 15th EPT cash, a quite brilliant achievement, after easing through the bubble with more than 300,000 chips. But a horrible hand against Mikko Jaatinen, who cracked the Italian Team PokerStars Pro's aces with pocket jacks, left him perilously short with little more than 100,000. He busted soon after in 26th place (€8,000) when his A-6 was overtaken by Van Zadelhoff's K-10.
Leaving with nothing today were the likes of Team PokerStars Pros Katja Thater, Michael Keiner and Vadim Markushevski. Thater was floored by Friend of PokerStars Pierre Neuville when her pocket queens were overtaken by his A-K, an ace falling on the river. "I'm very sorry," said Neuville. Probably not as sorry as Thater. Keiner had been short-stacked all day and never got going, while Markushevski showed early promise before falling to that man Mattern.
Neuville, the so-called Serial PokerStars Qualifier (he won a mere six packages to Tallinn on PokerStars) did leave with some cash a little later. He started the day splendidly, securing two double ups, but that was as good as it got. He finished in 41st place for €6,700 when he ran his A-K into Seppo Parkkinen's pocket sixes and failed to get there.
So, having started the day with 84 players, we're now down to 25. Somewhere in there is our EPT Tallinn champion. He (and since there are no ladies left we can be sure of that) could be any one of them, but we have nailed our flag to the mast of that man Mattern. Come Monday night, we hope to be rid of the monkey forever.
To see how things stand right now, you'll find the full chip counts over on the, er, chip count page, and you can see who has made the money so far by clicking on the - you guessed it - payouts page. Catch up with all of our coverage today by clicking on some or all (that makes us happy) of the links below:
Our thanks as ever goes to our EPT snapper Neil Stoddart, who continues to set the standard for people who walk around with expensive-looking camera equipment.
See you tomorrow. No primate lovers allowed, however.
All photos (c) Neil Stoddart