EPT Deauville: Final table, level 26 cont., 27 & 28 (blinds 40,000-80,000, ante 5,000)

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3.40pm: Continued action
For continued action from the EPT Deauville final table, go to the level 29 updates.

3.36pm: Break
That's the end of the level. We're on a 15-minute break. Here are the chips right now...

Lucien Cohen, France, 7,105,000
Alex Wice, Canada, PokerStars qualifier, 6,997,000
Martin Jacobson, Sweden, PokerStars qualifier, 5,500,000
Julien Claudepierre, France, 3,478,000
Kenny Hallaert, Belgium, 2,214,000
Kaspars Renga, Latvia, 1,460,000

3.35pm: Big double for Jacobson, bad news for the rest
Martin Jacobson has just doubled up in spectacular fashion against Julien Claudepierre. The Frenchman had opened to 230,000 from the small blind and Jacobson had called on the big blind.

The flop was A♣3♦Q♠ and it was of enough interest for Claudepierre to c-bet 240,000 into and for Jacobson to peel another card.

Both players checked the T♦ turn before Claudepierre led 420,000 into the A♦ river. Jacobson waited, then pushed. It was another 1.455m to call, which he did before mucking to Jacobson's Q♦9♦ flush. Jacobson is up to 5.5 million, Claudepierre down to 3.5 million. -- RD

3.30pm: Course Cohen clobbers Wice
When Vince Lombardi, the legendary US football coach, said: "When you get in the end zone act like you've been there before," he probably didn't expect Lucien Cohen to pay any attention. Cohen just doubled up through Alex Wice prior to performing vulgar histrionics. Good players tend not to need to perform any classless celebrations. Get it quietly is the order of the day.

Cohen opened for 190,000 from under-the-gun and was raised by Wice to 540,000 when the action was folded to him on the small blind. Cohen called. The flop came 4♣2♣4♠. Wice bet 510,000 which Cohen called before Wice had even finished putting his chips in. The turn came 9♥. Wice moved two towers of black chips into the middle, worth 4,000,000. Cohen moved in immediately and Wice called, showing A♣Q♣. But Cohen could beat that, showing 9♠9♦. The river came 7♥ and the chips were on their way to the Frenchman.

"Pas trop," he yelled. "Pas trop." He then dropped his plastic rat in front of Wice, who said nothing. Cohen was still yelling well into the next hand. He's up to more than 7,000,000. - SB

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Lucien Cohen... and rat

3.25pm: News in brief
1) Julien Claudepierre opens under-the-gun for 170,000 and Lucien Cohen defends his big blind. A simple 270,000 c-bet on the A♥T♦7♥ flop was enough to win the pot.

2) Kenny Hallaert opens the button to 170,000 and takes the pot.

3) Martin Jacobson gets a walk. He's managed to chip up to around 3 million this level, recovering from the 2 million he had after that had against Alex Wice.

4) Julien Claudepierre opened the button and took the pot. -- RD

3.20pm: Royal flush for Renga
Kaspars Renga likes safe bets. We've witnessed him blind away to ten big blinds and get it in with aces and now we've witnessed him wait until he's hit a royal flush before betting at the pot. Lucien Cohen raised to 180,000 from the hijack and Renga called from the small blind. Both players checked the flop and turn and by the river the board read K♥A♥K♣Q♥9♠. Renga led for 220,000 and Cohen opened folded 8♣8♠. Renga then stood up and placed his J♥T♥ over the K♣ and 9♠ to show that he had turned a royal flush. You can never be too safe. -- MC

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Kaspars Renga celebrates his royal flush

3.10pm: Hallaert all-in
More raise and take, including for Alex Wice who moves around like Dervish, a constant graceful flow of movement, collecting and throwing out chips. Poker-yoga. Then Martin Jacobson opened a pot for 160,000 from under-the-gun. The action reached Kenny Hallaert on the button who moved all-in for 1,749.000. Back with Jacobson who removed his headphones and thought for a minute. Then he folded. -- SB

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Kenny Hallaert

3.05pm: Who you calling a rat?
Lucien Cohen has his rat out again. It's getting old really quickly.

Cohen had opened to 180,000 and Martin Jacobson had moved all-in for 2.555 million from the big blind. Okay, everyone needs a little time to think over a decision like this but how much brain grinding are you really doing by pulling out a plastic rat and moving it around the table?

"Parlez francais?" Cohen asked Jacobson. "What's your name in English? Rat?"

I'm not sure if rat is slang for a bluffer on the French poker scene or not but Cohen, after having his moment showboating to the partisan crowd, folded his hand using the plastic rat's nose to muck the cards. Jacobson is up to 2.805 million now.-- RD

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Real heaven at the final table

3pm: Wice making his intentions clear
If Kenny Hallaert thought he had a great seat by being to the left of chip leader, Alex Wice, he can think again. Wice made his intentions perfectly clear by putting him all-in for around two million chips when the action folded to him in the small blind. Hallaert gave a "that's the way it's going to be, is it?" smile before folding.

Wice did do him the decency of showing him A♣J♣, though. -- MC

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Kenny Hallaert

2.55pm: Call, check, bet, call, splat
Lucien Cohen just ran splat into Julien Claudepierre. Cohen completed from the small blind only for Claudepierre to raise from the big blind, making it 230,000 to play. Cohen called and saw a flop of 8♣4♠A♦. Both players checked for a 3♥ turn card. At this point Cohen fired out 300,000 which Claudepierre called for a 5♣ turn card. Another check from Cohen, who watched Caludepierre bet 550,000. Cohen called but didn't show. Claudepierre had batted him away with A♠A♣. Cohen down to 4,000,000. Claudepierre up to around 6,000,000. -- SB

2.45pm: Renga's reverse rollercoaster
Kaspars Renga is riding a reverse rollercoaster at the moment; swift ascents followed by slow, casual declines. He's just doubled up through Julien Claudepierre with A♠A♦ to the Frenchman's A♥9♠. The J♠Q♠3♣T♦ turn brought some outs and a few chops for Claudepierre but the 2♣ river bricked. Regna is up to 1.5 million while Claudpierre drops to around 5 million. -- RD

2.40pm: Turbo hand
Alex Wice and Lucien Cohen just played out a turbo hand. Wice raised to 160,000 from the button and Cohen peeled from the big blind to see the 4♥J♦3♦ flop. Cohen checked and Wice quickly bet 200,000. Call. The turn came A♣ and the speed of decisions didn't slow down as Cohen check-called a 350,000 bet. The river fell K♣ and Wice's 600,000 bet was called. Wice slammed down J♣T♦ like it was the nuts but Cohen tabled A♦6♦ for the pot and went on to celebrate loudly with his railing supporters. -- MC

2.30pm: Claudepierre takes pot from Cohen
A pot develops between Julien Claudepierre and Lucien Cohen. Claudepierre opened for 180,000 under-the-gun before the action was folded to Cohen in the big blind. He called for a flop of Q♣5♥K♥.

Cohen checked to Claudepierre who bet 240,000. Cohen then raised to 540,000, which Claudepierre called for a A♣ turn card. Both checked that for a 6♦ river which was also checked. Cohen turned over Q♥T♠ while Claudepierre took the pot showing K♠8♠. -- SB

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Julian Claudepierre

2.25pm: Wice cracks aces to bust Anthony Hnatow in 7th place (€110,000)
Alex Wice is up to 12 million after a heart breaking, ace-cracking river. On the first hand back after the break Anthony Hnatow opened to 180,000 and Wice, more than happy to assume the big stack role, three-bet to 600,000. The action folded back around to Hnatow who waited a few heartbeats before moving all-in for 1.6 million total. Wice snap called, showing he's not going to be a player to raise-fold in this spot.

Hnatow: A♠A♦
Wice: 8♥6♥

This was Hnatow's chance to get back into this final table. The Frenchman had been playing a lot more snug than in the last few days, not a surprise given the big money pressure. The flop conspired against him; 6♠Q♥2♦. Wice had both backdoor and pair draws. The 4♥ turn pushed Hnatow to his feet. It was not a good card for him. The 2♥ was even worse. Wice held the flush, took the 3.2 million pot and stretched his consummate lead even further ahead. This is fast turning into a blood bath. They like their meat rare in France. -- RD

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Anthony Hnatow: I'll get me coat

2.23pm: Bust out!
There's been an elimination on the first hand back. Details to come, but if you are a supporter of Anthony Hnatow, look away now. -- SY

2.20pm: Players back, state of play
The players are returning to their seats to face new blinds of 40,000-80,000 and a 5,000 ante. Here are the current chip stacks. -- SY

Alex Wice, Canada, PokerStars qualifier, 10,558,000
Julien Claudepierre, France, 5,048,000
Lucien Cohen, France, 4,390,000
Martin Jacobson, Sweden, PokerStars qualifier, 2,215,000
Kenny Hallaert, Belgium, 2,194,000
Anthony Hnatow, France, 1,354,000
Kaspars Renga, Latvia, 865,000

1.54pm: Level ends
That's the end of level 27. We're now on a 15-minute break. -- SY

1.50pm: Renga survives as Wice storms into the chip lead
Ladies and gentlemen, we have just witnessed one of those tournament-changing pots. There was hush, tension and an annoying bloody Frenchman pushing me in the back who doesn't realise how close he came to having my elbow smashed into his face.

The action started with an under-the-gun raise to 130,000 from Martin Jacobson which was quickly shoved on by Kaspars Renga for 600,000, also in early position. Alex Wice, just one seat along, made the call. The action folded around to Jacobson who slowly and methodically, as he always acts, made the call. The pot was already 1.8 million.

The 7♠T♥J♥ flop was checked by both players but the 8♥ turn was a huge card bringing serious straight and flush draws. Still, it was good enough for Jacobson to fire one million. Wice made the call. This was getting serious. The pot was now 3.8 million. Silence, bar some chattering in the cheap seats, had settled on the table and when the K♦ river card was dealt Jacobson pushed out a huge 2 million stack.

"How much more are you playing?" asked Wice. Tournament director Thomas Kremser intimated that it was a little over two million more. Wice set him in. At once, Jacobson tipped his head back in frustration and Renga - yes, we'd almost forgotten about him, too - put his head in hands assuming that he must be out. Jacobson passed pocket tens for a flopped set that he knew must now be behind.

Wice: A♥Q♣
Renga: A♦Q♦

Renga, a very tight player as we may have mentioned, was thrilled to chop the pot. He's now on 900,000. More importantly Jacobson has dropped to 2 million while Wice leaps to 9 million (full chip counts to come). -- RD

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Kaspars Renga can't look

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Martin Jacobson has to let it go

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Alex Wice gets all the gold

1.35pm: Cohen corners Jacobson
Martin Jacobson opened for 130,000 in early position which Lucien Cohen called in the small blind. The flop came K♥7♥A♥ which Cohen checked. Jacobson made it another 130,000 which Cohen called. On the Q♥ turn Cohen was check-calling again, 250,000 from Jacobson this time. But then on the 6♦ river, when Cohen checked Jacobson did the same. The Swede was reluctant to show, saying he had pocket fours. For some reason Cohen wanted to see them before showing his own 5♥6♥ for the flush. -- SB

1.30pm: A turn of events
When the 7♣ appeared on the turn it seemed like a blank card, but not so to Lucien Cohen. The hand started with a Julien Claudepierre raise to 130,000 from second position and a quick call from Cohen in the big blind. The flop came 5♥T♠K♦ and Cohen checked quickly to face a 180,000 bet. Call. Cohen checked upon seeing the turn and faced a 460,000 bet this time. The increase in bet size stalled him for once and he began fiddling with his chips and rubbing his face. It was too much for him to call and he let his hand go. -- MC

1.25pm: Claudepierre and Jacobson tangle
Julien Claudepierre has just taken 460,000 off Martin Jacobson in a battle of the blinds. Anthony Hnatow passed his button (another surprising example of Hantow's change of pace today) allowing Claudepierre to open the pot with a small blind raise to 170,000. Jacobson came back over from the big blind with a three-bet to 460,000 putting Claudepierre to the test.

The Frenchman reached into his chips and - with a slight shake to his hand perhaps? - four-bet to 1,060,000. Jacobson sat studying the hand long enough for Lucien Cohen to get out of his chair to have a protracted Q&A session with the rail, and Alex Wice to wander away from the table and find himself a can of RedBull. -- RD

1.20pm: Wice scoops the blinds
Alex Wice opened to 130,000 from the hijack and took the pot unopposed. Anthony Hantow folded in the big blind. The young Frenchman's play has been uncharacteristically quiet. Maybe he's had complete rags or maybe the big money has tightened up his play. -- RD

1.15pm: Raise and take
Martin Jacobson raised and took on the button before Anthony Hnatow did the same in early position. Jacobson and Kenny Hallaert saw a flop of 8♦9♥J♦ on the next hand, one that Jacobson won with a bet of 145,000. Wice took the next hand with a raise and take from the cut-off. -- SB

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Martin Jacobson

1.10pm: Time to hear from Jacobson
Chip leader Martin Jacobson has played his first real hand of note and it didn't go too well. Lucien Cohen opened the pot with a 140,000 raise from early position only for the Swede to three-bet him to 380,000 from the small blind. Cohen called quickly to the 5♠2♣7♣ flop where he faced a 410,000 c-bet from Jacobson. Cohen, who's not one to dwell, raised it up to 900,000 and took the pot as Jacobson folded. -- MC

1.05pm: Jacobson and Hallaert
Martin Jacobson and Kenny Hallaert, who are two of the names that you expect to have a good chance to claim today's title, have just tangled for the first time. Jacobson had opened from the hijack for 130,000, having done so the previous hand and successfully swiped the blinds, but was three-bet to 370,000 by Hallaert in the small blind. Jacobson leant forward to survey the chip castle in front of Hallaert. Either it was too big or too small for what he was thinking and he passed his hand. One up to Hallaert in this early skirmish.

Wice and Jacobson are still out in front. -- RD

12.58pm: Ruslan Prydryk eliminated in 8th for €66,800
Ruslan Prydryk is the first player to be eliminated, busting in eighth place earning €66,800. Following a raise of 130,000 by Julien Claudepierre, Ruslan moved all-in for around a million. The action was folded through the blinds back to Claudepierre who announced "call".

Claudepierre A♠Q♠
Prydryk 6♠6♦

The board ran A♦4♦2♥3♦3♥ to send the Ukrainian to the rail. -- SB

12.55pm: First out
We have our first elimination. Ruslan Prydryk is out - details to come. -- SY

12.50pm: Hallaert gives up to Cohen
Kenny Hallaert isn't the kind of player to throw away chips unnecessarily. After firing a c-bet into Lucien Cohen, who has proved to be fairly trappy from what I've seen, he gave up on a 6♠9♠2♣5♠ board.

Hallaert had raised from the cut-off to 135,000 and had been called by Cohen. His 160,000 flop bet was called before he check-folded to a 260,000 bet on the turn. Cohen raked in the pot to cries of "Allez!"-- RD

12.45pm: Double for rock-ish Renga
When Kaspars Renga raises the whole world should tremble. He's been incredibly tight and combined with being short stacked you know he's going to be packing something serious. Maybe Alex Wice thought he could abuse that tightness, he did make some significant folds yesterday when he was already heavily invested. This was not going to be the same though.

Renga opened to 166,000 from the cut-off, which was around a third of his stack. Wice three-bet to 330,000 from the button forcing Kenny Hallaert and Lucien Cohen out of the hand in the blinds. Renga moved all-in and Wice made the call.

Renga: A♥A♣
Wice: Q♦J♦

The 6♣6♥K♠4♥Q♠ board held up for Renga to double up to 900,000. -- RD

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Kaspars Renga likes what he sees

12.35pm: All Wice for now
Every pot has been won by Alex Wice so far. He got a walk in the big blind and the next hand he raised to 130,000 from the small blind. Kenny Hallaert made the call from the big blind to see the K♣2♥Q♥ flop. Wice led for 130,000 and Hallaert called to go to the 7♠ turn. Wice check-called a 230,000 bet before he checked to face a 320,000 bet on the 3♥ river. He took longer this time but called again. "Ace-high", said the Belgian. No good here, though, as Wice tabled Q♣J♥ and took the pot. -- MC

12.28pm: Side bet
For a small fee, members of Team PokerStars Blog have written down their predicted order of eliminations. Have you? Do it. Do it. Bacardi Cola. Do it.* -- RD
* If you haven't watched the remake of Starsky and Hutch that last part will make no sense to you

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The final table: where will they finish?

12.27pm: Housekeeping
We have eight minutes remaining in level 26 before the blinds move up. The next player to bust will win €66,680. You can check on all the payouts so far, and also on the latest chip counts.

12.26pm: Video
Settle back and enjoy the video introduction to the day. It's got moving pictures and everything...

12.25pm: Final begins
After all the usual delays, we're under way. Here is the pic of our intrepid players. -- SY

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Final table players at EPT Deauville

12.15pm: Waiting
We're still waiting for the formalities and photos to be completed. The final eight players will then be introduced and we'll begin. Don't count on that happening in the next ten minutes. -- SY

11.55am: Final table day
A long month comes to a close in northern France for poker players today. After two weeks in the Bahamas for the highly successful PokerStars Caribbean Adventure across the ocean lay waiting the small town of Deauville, Normandy, a town usually asleep at this time of year, but one that opens its doors for the European Poker Tour each year at the ornate Casino Barriere Deauville.

This year a record field of 891 walked through that door, stopping to join several queues to collect various coloured wrist bands, joined another one to get into the tournament room, settled on a Crudite sandwich for breakfast and lunch, and then took a seat. Back on day one they were all competing for a first prize of €880,000. Now 891 has become eight and one of them will be crowned the latest EPT champion by the end of the day.

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Martin Jacobson's chip stack yesterday

Leading the final table into Day 6 is Sweden's Martin Jacobson. He snatched the lead as Day 5 closed yesterday, bagging up 7,280,000 to lead previous leader Alex Wice in second place with 6,248,000. The pair lead the remainder of the field by some way and will sit alongside each other today:

Martin Jacobson, Sweden, PokerStars qualifier, 7,280,000
Alex Wice, Canada, PokerStars qualifier, 6,248,000

Kenny Hallaert, Belgium, 3,599,000
Julien Claudepierre, France, 3,244,000
Lucien Cohen, France, 3,085,000
Anthony Hnatow, France, 1,644,000
Ruslan Prydryk, Ukraine, 1,154,000
Kaspars Renga, Latvia, 470,000

But let's be cautious. Before you start putting money on Jacobson to go one better than his second place at Vilamoura earlier this season; or for Wice to nail down the form that this week has kept him around the top of the chip counts, there's still the chance of an upset. Anthony Hnatow showed urgency in his play yesterday, combining effectively with perfect timing. He will pose a threat, as will the plucky Kenny Hallaert.

Then there's always the underdog. Kaspars Renga will be in no hurry to leave, while the local heros Lucien Cohen and Julien Claudepierre will not go down without a fight.

Yep, we guarantee even more clichés like that as the day progresses. You can suggest your own in the comments box below.

The stage is set (a stage has actually been set up overnight) for a thrilling finale to EPT Deauville. The players are arriving, as are the spectators who will fill the bank of seating overlooking the final table. Play will be under way shortly. -- SB

PokerStars Blog reporting team in Deauville (in order of money won on slot machines last night, with an initial stake of €5):Simon Young (€13.50 on the 'Fruits and Jewels' machine), Stephen Bartley (-€1 having decided to save the other €4 on the 'something to do with pirates' machine), honourary blogger Alan Rogers from the video team (-€5, 'I've no idea what I'm doing'), Rick Dacey (-€15 having reloaded twice on the 'Guns n' Vodka machine) and Marc Convey (-€40, elsewhere, playing online)

Simon Young
@MrSimonYoung in European Poker Tour