EPT9 Berlin: Don't I know you from somewhere?

There was an amusing moment at EPT London last month when Vicky Coren tweeted a picture of her starting table, which featured James Dempsey and Toby Lewis to her immediate left. Barny Boatman was one of the first to reply by saying, "At least you're the only one not drawn with a former champ".

The tournament reporter Chris Hall was the first to call Boatman out on this, tweeting, "Err, @810ofclubs (ie, Lewis) is a former champion" to which Lewis himself replied and proffered the humble hash-tag "#worstEPTchamp".

I don't think anyone would claim that Lewis is really the "worst" EPT champ, and he's not even the least recognisable of that brood (which was really Boatman's only mistake). There are many, many former EPT champions who manage to fly under the radar at these tournaments far more effectively even than Lewis. I mean, there's one sitting at Lewis's table in Berlin this afternoon.

Lewis is a scholar of the game, but I wonder if even he recognises the gentlemen sitting in the two seat of his table today. It is Thang Duc Nguyen, who triumphed on the European Poker Tour in Baden during season three.


Thang Duc Nguyen: flying under the radar

Nguyen is a German businessman and only a recreational player, who has nonetheless wracked up a good few results through his career. He has finished eighth in a €10,000 WPT event and has had a couple of other deep runs at the EPT besides his victory. He will almost certainly never be a superstar of the game, but doesn't seem to mind one bit.

One player you would expect to recognise Nguyen is also on that table: the Team Pro Dario Minieri. Minieri, you see, also had his breakout performance on European soil at the same EPT Baden event won by Nguyen, finishing third for the first six-figure tournament score of his career.


Dario Minieri, as viewed from Thang Duc Nguyen's seat

Minieri has found cashes hard to come by (at least in live poker) over the past few seasons and it has now been three years since he troubled the cashiers on the EPT. But he is still an irresistible sight to behold when he's on his game, and he's had a pretty good start to this tournament. He was up to about 40,000 pretty early on, which is about 40,000 more than he often has at this stage.

Vanessa Selbst has also now joined that table, on which Steven Silverman has also been seated since the start. They are likely to break it soon, which will no doubt delight all of them. It's no fun playing against such dangerous foes in a field so big.

The adjacent table is also something of a brute. ElkY and Pieter de Korver are neighbours, and until very recently David Williams was also there. Williams, however, has now been eliminated after he got his last 20,000-ish into a four-way pot with an over-pair (tens) on a nine-high flop. He was up against an ace-nine and a nut flush draw and another nine hit.


David Williams' day is done, burrito hunting begins

That sent Williams home - or at least scouring Berlin for a Chipotle, the food outlet that I hope pays him royalties based on the number of mentions he gives them on Twitter.

Elsewhere in the field, there are at least two more champion v champion mini-battles. Jake Cody is sitting with Nicolas Chouity, while Mohsin Charania is with Ramzi Jelassi.

Don't forget the way to follow our main event coverage. There's hand-by-hand stuff, including chip counts, in the panel at the top of the main EPT Berlin page. There will be feature pieces below that panel, including updates from the side events. EPT Live is now live. And everything to do with the European Poker Tour is on the European Poker Tour site.

Howard Swains
@howardswains in European Poker Tour