Travel Diary: EPT San Remo

ept-thumb-promo.jpgI am always excited to go to San Remo, since I can almost taste the food while I'm on the airplane, and Italian food is definitely my favorite. No tight dresses on this trip! The shoes are also to die for in all the little one-off boutique shops along the main street. However this time, as I had it in my mind I was excited about the shoes, but it just so happened I couldn't find any I liked. So instead I bought a few hundred euros worth of cashmere. Well, when in Rome! Oops I mean San Remo, near enough. This is a blog about food and shoes right? Oh, right, poker -- don't worry, I'm getting there. But take a look at our sightseeing video of San Remo first up (Warning: contains shoes and puppies!)

After all the shopping and eating, well I am still eating but....the poker finally began. Day 1A, as always, was a little less busy than Day 1B but players were still on their way into the city. Daniel Negreanu however, was already there, and I caught up him ahead of 1A as he seemed to be one of those players who had been partying hard and he seemed glad to have home (and his dogs) in his thoughts.

As days 1A and 1B passed and a total field of 837 was halved, I was not getting any thinner, but many Team PokerStars Pros had made it into Day 2. Vanessa Selbst was going strong as usual, Liv Boeree and other PokerStars ladies seemed to be faring well too. Another lady was also spotted in the field, went by the name of Jen Harman, or Jen Traniello as she was playing alongside her husband Marco Traniello. It was the first EPT she had ever played, a little like Doyle Brunson at EPT London. Unfortunately Jen just missed the money. Team Pro Vanessa Selbst however, continued her aggressive style of play and made the money and Day 4, taking home €14,000. I like catching up with Vanessa Selbst because she always has something interesting to say about her play and others, but this time I caught up with her among other Team PokerStars Pros, to find out what they listen to in their headphones!

On Day 4, as Vanessa Selbst hit the rail, she left just three other Team Pros in the field, but the founder of the EPT and Team Pro John Duthie was to crash, bang wallop into the side of the rail immediately after, just leaving Dutch Pro, Lex Veldhuis and Norwegian Pro Johnny Lodden to fight it out amongst Team PokerStars. We had been seeing the same names constantly in the top chip counts and this was generally a war between Joseph Cheong, who has over $4.8m in live tournament winnings and Chris McClung, who was a Canadian player we didn't know too much about. However, after a little investigative work, we learned it was his first trip to Europe and after EPT London, this man had cashed in every single event he had played in here. Not bad going. Moreover, players were extremely scared of this hyper-aggressive player. Lodden and Veldhuis both exclaimed to me in interviews, "He will always four-bet you, if you want to play against this guy, you have to be prepared to go all-in."

It wasn't pretty when McClung finally came up against Cheong on Day 4. McClung was a protagonist in the biggest pot of the day, when he moved all-in with Q♥7♥ and found a call from Cheong's dominating kings, for a plate of 2.5 million chips. At the table fell J♥ 4♥ 2♣, then the gasp as the K♥ went down on the turn to give Cheong a set, but McClung had the flush and the irrelevant 9♠ fell on the river eliminating Cheong. McClung leapt up to 3.1million in chips. Not sure where Cheong went after this, but I'm pretty sure he would have perhaps kicked something or someone.

McClung hung on to the chip lead as he went into Day 5 and the final 24 players were moved to the Theatre in the casino. I caught up with Johnny Lodden, who spoke quite candidly about McClung's play in this interview.

However, his loose hyper-aggressive style was to get the better of him as he tangled in a pot and called an all-in raise from EPT Berlin Champion, Kevin MacPhee. He found his ace-queen hugely dominated by MacPhee's ace-king, and before he knew it 3.6 million in chips had become 200,000, and a few hands later he was "poof" like a cloud of smoke. The other players could breathe easy now. Their threat was out of the way.

The final table was comprised of EPT Berlin Champ MacPhee, Andrey Pateychuk from Russia, Hendon Mobster Barny Boatman, Sydney-sider Daniel Neilson, lone Italian Rocco Palumbo, Frenchman Yorane Kerignard, Bulgarian Dimitar Danchev and Slovakian Jan Bendik. Very multi-cultural, we think you'd agree.

The only hope of an EPT double crown winner was for MacPhee, but our hopes were imminently dashed as MacPhee walked in eighth place. The Brits had high hopes for Boatman, after he busted MacPhee, holding just a queen and a seven. I later asked him about calling MacPhee's all-in raise with his queen-seven. You can see his answer in the next video. This hand and MacPhee's elimination caused a little controversy on some social networking sites.

After a bit more chip-trading and some bust-outs, Boatman was sent to the rail; Hendon Mobster Barny had made it to fourth. Before we knew it, the huge chip leader of the morning, Daniel Neilson had become the short stack with just over 1.5m in chips, attempting to battle against Pateychuk's huge stack of 15.7 million. It was a recipe for disaster and soon he left the field, leaving Pateychuk to fight it out with Bulgarian Dimitar Danchev.

At one time I thought this heads-up battle would go on until the early hours of the morning. The bulk of chips trade places a few times, from Pateychuk as chip leader to Danchev, back to Pateychuk and so on, but overall, I thought Pateychuk played the better poker. He looked relaxed and in control, sat upright and intimidating. Danchev almost looked defeated the way he was sat hunched at the table, calling every raise Pateychuk had made as the small blind to protect his big blind, but showing hardly any post-flop aggression at all.

Then came the hand that changed it all...

From the button, Dimitar Danchev raised to 325,000. Andrey Pateychuk reraised to 900,000 and Danchev called. The flop came down 9♠4♠2♥ and then these players went into overdrive. First, Pateychuk bet out 1.2 million, Danchev then raised to 2.6 million and Pateychuk came back with an all-in shove which Danchev called.

Danchev held [10s]9♣ and Pateychuk had 7♣6♠. From here, Pateychuk turned an open-ended straight draw when the 8♥ fell on the turn and with a little luck on his side, the 5♥ fell on the river to make a straight for the Russian to win the hand, leaving Danchev with under 1 million in chips.

It was indeed a sick beat, Pateychuck and his runner-runner to make the straight and cripple Danchev. If Danchev could make it back from this, he could probably write some history in the books, but alas, it wasn't to be and the Bulgarian slunk off to sit on the red leather sofa on the stage and look a truly sad man. He couldn't quite believe it. However, Pateychuk was the man of the moment, having celebrated his 22nd birthday the day before, the Russian had created probably the best present for himself he could have ever asked for.

Here is his winner's interview.

So that was San Remo all tied up for us. It was emotional. I had got extremely fat, but at least I had plenty of new cashmere to keep me warm returning to London. No one can fail to fall in love with San Remo and its quaint and peaceful setting. We hope it's not too long until we can load up on the carbs, breathe in the sunshine, and become entranced in the action of an exhilarating poker tournament again.


Laura Cornelius
@PokerStars in European Poker Tour