EPT9 Prague: The last leg of the ElkY v Hairabedian €100K grudge match
If ever there was a reason to stay until the end of an EPT9 festival, it comes in the form of the €5,000 six-handed turbo tournament that usually rounds off the final day. It is not a tournament to go looking for much value, however, as it is almost as stacked as your average high roller event. One starting table today featured Jonathan Duhamel, Andrew Chen and Mike McDonald in a row, while round another sat Steve O'Dwyer and Mike Watson. Dan Kelly, Bryn Kenney and Paul Berende were also in the mix.
Both ElkY and Roger Hairabedian also joined the action for this one, as they entered the closing stages of their personal duel. In truth, their contest is a little one-sided and is essentially a freeroll for ElkY, who stands to win €100,000 from Hairabedian if he can top the French live poker rankings for the year. (We explained all this earlier.)
However ElkY is now behind Hairabedian on the leader board and has all but given up the ghost. He reckons he needs to finish in the top three in the €5,000 to have any chance of overhauling Hairabedian and doesn't seem to fancy his own chances. He told us earlier that he isn't really thinking about it any more, which was surprising. If anyone can finish in the top three of any tournament, it's ElkY.
This event offered the first chance for our photographer Neil Stoddart to capture both of the competitors in one frame. Although it would have been nice for the fates to have conspired to put ElkY and Hairabedian on the same table, where they stood the chance to knock one another out, they were instead arranged back-to-back.
ElkY, therefore, would not have seen the hand that would send Hairabedian to the rail in the early stages, but would no doubt have seen his countryman wandering out. Down to three tables, ElkY is still there.
This head-to-head duel is not the only personal contest being played out. With Marvin Rettenmaier heads up in the High Roller event, he can overhaul the sensational Dan Smith and take down the Player of the Year accolades for 2012. Smith has had a ridiculous year, but Rettenmaier has also been out of this world, winning two WPT titles.
It's a bit like what's going on in tennis at the moment. In any other era, Andy Murray would be world No1, but he just so happens to have been born at a similar time to Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. In any other poker year, Smith or Rettenmaier would have had the PoY title locked up a long time ago.
But as it is, they are still going at it. Smith, of course, has leapt into the €5,000 to mount a rearguard action against the approach of Rettenmaier. It's bloody difficult to keep up with all this.
Stop press: Word reaches us, via Dan Smith's Twitter account, that there are no Player of the Year points on offer in the €5,000, so it would seem Rettenmaier is going to take the prize whatever happens. All this is yet to be confirmed, and the workings are notoriously difficult to follow, but both interested parties seem pretty convinced.
Follow hand-by-hand coverage of the main event, plus latest chip counts, in the panel at the top of the main EPT Prague page. Follow high roller coverage on the High Roller page and look at the side events page for, you guessed it, side events reports.