EPT8 Monaco: Guignon leads as epic day slims Grand Final to eight
There was a moment tonight when the PokerStars Monte-Carlo®Casino European Poker Tour Grand Final showed the first sign of coming to life, after a week of tense action that has now trimmed a field of 665 to just eight.
It happened nine-handed, in a simple hand checked to the river which was won by Lucille Cailly, the first woman to reach the last eight of the EPT Grand Final. Surprised to win the pot, Cailly leapt up, prompting the French rail to burst into a spontaneous Mexican wave. It was the first noise this event has featured all week, apart from that lunatic on Day 2 who three-outered a guy.
The feature table
Most impressed with this vocal support was card caller Robbie Thompson, who grinned like he'd just seen an old friend turn up out of the blue. "I finally got a gallery," he said to Cailly. "Make sure you bring them with you (tomorrow). They're gonna rock the house!"
To a man like Thompson, a gallery is crucial to generate an atmosphere to work in, and he may now just get one. The Grand Final will always be a draw for poker fans, and what they'll see tomorrow is a final table of unfamiliar faces. But it promises to be an intriguing one, led by the chip leader tonight Bernard Guignon.
Chip leader Bernard Guignon
Guignon had been among the also-rans when play started just after noon today. Back then it was Geert-Jan Potijk out front, but the Dutchman would be one of two chip leaders who shined brightly before crashing out. Potijk eventually went out in 14th place, sent there by Daniel Gomez, one place before the man who replaced him as leader, Ben Vinson, out in 13th.
Gomez took over the lead when the remaining nine players convened around the feature table for what would be five more hours of play. But soon it was Guignon who took command, the oldest player at the table. Having first seen off Pratyush Buddiga, he then took chips from Clayton Mozdzen to move up to four million. His final thrust saw off Alex Mostafavi in ninth place, bringing play to a close minutes before 1am.
So it's Guignon in the lead with 4,900,000, followed by the seven other finalists eyeing the €1,500,000 first prize, that you may not have heard of before.
Sergio Castellucio is perhaps the most familiar. The Italian has several EPT cashes including a 16th place finish in this event back in 2009. He moves up and down the leader board today, recovering from an early hit against Anatoly Gurtovoy. He bagged-up 1,410,000 tonight.
The other familiar face is Lucille Cailly, who survived an eventful day to secure her first EPT final table, the biggest result of her career so far, becoming the first woman to reach the last table of an EPT Grand Final.
Cailly put in a stellar performance yesterday, as madness ensued around her. Today she set out in the same spirit, busting Andrew Pantling in the first hand before out-flushing Michael Dietrich. Then the first set back for Cailly, one which may prove a pivotal moment. Spotting an opponent on tilt, she ran pocket threes into aces, halving her own stack.
Crucially, Cailly didn't let this error ruin her shot at the title, and after a cigarette got back to work, reclaiming her lost chips and more, bagging up 2,865,000 tonight.
Mohsin Charania has shown promise this week, leading for much of Day 2 and maintaining a stack of fighting weight. The American returns with 2,215,000 tomorrow after spending much of the day under the television lights today. This is only his second EPT cash finish.
Rodrigo Caprioli is one of the other dark horses at the final, as are Michael Dietrich, with fewer results to analyse, although Caprioli did reach the final two tables at EPT London in 2009.
A last word for Clayton Mozdzen. The Canadian couldn't watch when his tournament was on the line yesterday, but was able to sit through a couple of all-in moments to secure his return tomorrow with a stack of 1,430,000. Only last month he finished 14th in the EPT Madrid main event, beating that this week to reach his second EPT final, following EPT Warsaw in 2009.
Mozdzen got unlucky early on then doubled up, catching an ace on the turn to beat Anatoly Gurtovoy's pocket kings. Back in Madrid an ace on the turn had cost him his tournament life, now Mozdzen was seeing the roles reversed. After finally dodging some unconventional play from Mostafavi, and doubling up with nine players left, he secures his place in the last eight.
His comments this afternoon speak of how important an event like this is to a player.
"I've been here a few times and it's been so close yet so far, so I know the results I'm used to," he'd said. "I told myself this one is different, just gonna let everything take its place. I'm very confident everything's gonna go well though."
Seat 1 - Rodrigo Capriolo, Brazil, 2,945,000
Seat 2 - Bernard Guignon, France, 4,900,000
Seat 3 - Michael Dietrich, Canada, 1,550,000
Seat 4 - Sergio Castellucio, Italy, 1,410,000
Seat 5 - Mohsin Charania, United States, 2,215,000
Seat 6 - Daniel Gomez, Spain, 2,665,000
Seat 7 - Clayton Mozdzen, Canada, 1,430,000
Seat 8 - Lucille Cailly, France, 2,865,000
Those that had shined this week were one by one rendered surplus to requirements as a steady stream of main event players made their way to the pay-out desk in a day that lasted 13 hours.
Key departures included Pantling, in the first hand of the day, shortly followed by Vadzim Kursevich, this season's EPT Deauville winner, denying those who lend weight to that sort of thing, a first double winner.
Jason Wheeler would soon join him on the rail, as would one of the standout players of the past month Pratyush Buddiga, who was busted in 16th place by Guigon who slow rolled a pair of kings. No back-to-back final tables for Buddiga, or finished eighth in Berlin a week ago.
After Potijk in 14th and Vinson in 13th, the other Vadzim, Markushevski, departed in tenth, a reversal of his form earlier in the day that had taken his stack up to two million.
When Mostafavi departed, a man who started the day with a short stack and an entirely different name (Reza Mostafavi Tabatabaei) in ninth place, the day was finally over, the final eight in place, and just one more day to play.
Before that, catch up on all the action from today, as well as chip counts and official pay-outs, on the official live coverage page. Links to all of today's articles and interviews can be found below.
It leaves just one more day of main event play in this eighth season of the European Poker Tour and it all begins tomorrow at the slightly later time of 1.30pm with a one hour delay to the EPT Live coverage which starts at 2.30pm. You'll see all the action there, with all the hole cards, until we have a new EPT Grand Final champion.
If you want more poker check out Howard Swains's reports from the €25,000 High Roller event which plays ten levels today.
Until tomorrow, it's goodnight from Monaco.
All photography © Neil Stoddart