EPT9 Berlin: Reigning champ Davidi Kitai battles through bubble, busts

Davidi Kitai doesn't have the usual look of a poker player. He doesn't wear sports clothing - no oversized baseball, sweat pants or sports jersey - and he doesn't fit the old school look either - no dress slacks, shirt or cufflinks. If you pulled the Belgian Triple Crown winner out of a line-up you'd guess that he was a struggling artist or perhaps a philosophy student, maybe even a spoken word beatnik. Kitai hides in plain sight.

Having won EPT Berlin last season many were surprised that he'd completed his Triple Crown. But he needs to win a WPT and a WSOP, too? Yes, he'd done both of those already and is now over the $3,000,000 mark in live tournament winnings. Today, however, he's currently looking more likely to make a smaller addition to that total than the €712,000 he won here beating Andrew Chen heads up.

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Last season, big time

In the lead up to the bubble, with 138 players remaining, Kitai nursed 65,500 giving him 13 big blinds. Then the action went hand-for-hand. Kitai, perhaps unwanting a difficult early position decision, wandered over to the rail to speak to someone who looked suspiciously like Casey Kastle. Kitai then wandered over to watch Barny Boatman jam all-in on Calvin Anderson, then slouched over to the TV table to see Boris Becker* fail to crack aces with J♥K♥ (even though he flopped a flush draw).

*It turns out it wasn't Becker, despite the card caller's claims that it was. Everyone wants a piece of Boris.

The blinds went through Kitai and he was closer to 10 big blinds now, the de facto shoving stack. Would he, the reigning champ, be more or less likely to jam than most? Would the memories of last season's run make him 'play for the win' more than would usually be considered sane? Or would the allure of cashing in 'his tournament' make him nit up more than normal?

"Maybe, but actually it doesn't change that much. When I'm short stacked I play for the money, when I've got a big stack I don't care about the money," said Kitai.

It should have been expected really. You don't swipe a Triple Crown by playing on false belief and back-to-back superstitions. Talking of which, does Kitai think he can pull off an incredible comeback for a shot at a title defence?

"For the moment I don't think about it. When I started the day with 280k I was thinking about it. Still, in poker it's a chip and a chair. I still have a chance but will need to double up," he said.

Maybe a couple of double ups.

"Yeah, a couple," he said glancing a smile at his stack.

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This season, little stack

The bubble burst during the last break and Kitai got it in with the ducks shortly after but, like the song, he regrets nothing. One win and two cashes isn't bad in back-to-back years.


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is staff writer for the PokerStars Blog.

Rick Dacey
@PokerStars in European Poker Tour