EPT8 Monaco: De Meulder and Mattern take on the media

ept-thumb-promo.jpgChristophe De Meulder is on my nemesis list. He may smile that twin grin beneath a swoop of well-coiffed hair but I know what's going on. He's evil. He must be. No-one with a clear conscious slowrolls aces in a media tournament freeroll surely? Especially not a Team PokerStars Pro who knows that you're writing an article about the event to appear on their sponsor's blog. What kind of sadist does that?

De Muelder joins EPT photographer Neil Stoddart on a scribbled piece of paper headed with the title 'TheY mUSt PAy'. The snapper is another soulless beast: he slowrolled me with aces to bust me out of the last media tournament on tour. Native American Indians used to believe that a camera could steal a person's soul. They were right, Stoddart has been harvesting them for years. If you've played an EPT then chances are a little piece of your humanity is locked up in the photographer's hard drive. If you've played a ladies event then it definitely has, he circles those tables like a vulture.

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Christophe De Meulder

Yesterday a €2,000 media freeroll was laid on by the Monte-Carlo®Casino mixing local and tour press with members of Team PokerStars Pro and, as it would happen, some random promotional girls who were just hanging around texting and showing their legs off.

My plan was to sit down, interview a Team Pro at the table, bust and write up the account. My table draw did not permit this. Across the four tables there were Vanessa Selbst, Arnaud Mattern, Richard Toth, Joe Cada, Ville Wahlbeck and, of course, De Meulder. None of them were at my table. I may be one of the only players to ever be gutted that they've got a soft draw; the 'star draw' at my table was PokerStars Blog video presenter Laura Cornelius. Unsurprisingly, she didn't last long. Thankfully neither did our table, it was a turbo freeroll after all.

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Joe Cada, today at the TV table

I was bumped onto Mattern and De Meulder's table. This was more like it. Mattern I know well, he's always willing to help out with the media, a forward thinking sponsored player. I told him as much and asked why he was always happy to get involved. Was it for the PR? Was he bored or was he thinking about his career?

"I have a lot of free time on my hands to be honest. I lead a very boring life," said Mattern with a straight face before laughing. The Frenchman likes to laugh.

"It's not that I never hang out with players, I do sometimes with normal players like Vanessa Selbst, but a lot of players are making bets all the time or only talking about poker. I like this sometimes but I really like normal people and in this world that means hanging out with the media, the dealers, the interviewers and the TV crew. They're normal fun people to hang out with. Most of them have good and funny personalities. It doesn't mean that I don't like the players, it's just that when you're away so much it's nice to have a break from the game," said Mattern.

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Arnaud Mattern

If he was playing the media long game then he was doing some with aplomb, which is obviously somewhat different from doing so with a plum (which would cost you approximately €12 here in Monaco).

"I think I had the best table draw but not only was it the funniest but I was beside the two cutest chicks and I had Mad (Harper) on my right, which is good value. She's good to have around," said Mattern.

I think he meant it in terms of good table chit-chat but given that Harper, the EPT media co-ordinator, tried to fold her option on the big blind and couldn't get her head around the denomination of chips he could just as easily have meant about her play.

Mattern, having already said that he was 'not made for gambling, I'm made for love,' proved his point by getting sent to the rail but, quite possibly still (unsuccessfully) trying to hit on the ladies at the table, the Team Pro took to the dealer's seat. A couple of misdeals later the Frenchman dealt my short stack pocket sevens and my chips went into the middle.

"Oh, it's a good one," said De Meulder, picking up his cards from the big blind, the last player left in the hand.

The Belgian peeled out the second card.

"Hmmm, this one's pretty good too," he said with friendly grin.

De Meulder slowly put the cards down on their back, smiling way too much for my liking. Aces. And Mattern was dealing... Okay, false accusations of collusion aside, De Meulder did seem to be a nice guy. But it was true about Stoddart; he is harvesting souls. You have been warned.

Tournament snapshot
Level 11: blinds 600-1,200, ante 100
Players: 252 of 665
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Rick Dacey
@PokerStars in European Poker Tour