EPT9 Deauville Day 4: Cyril Andre leads final 23 as big names fall
Sometimes in the run up to a main event final table you count on several players reaching the latter stages, guaranteeing an entertaining conclusion. Usually they're big names, with proven track records and a knack for flair and conspicuous skill. Other times they're simply the players who have impressed most during the week. Either way you count on them and grieve their departure. It was such a day today in the EPT Deauville main event.
A quartet of English raiders looked set to continue dominating the main event this afternoon, as 51 players returned to play down to 24. Sam Grafton, Luke Reeves, James Mitchell and Mathew Frankland were poised to make names for themselves beyond the English Channel, having brought back potent stacks this morning. Alas, only one of them would survive.
James Mitchell, the last Englishman remaining
Reeves fell in 42nd place and Mathew Frankland in 30th, while Sam Grafton, on the last hand of the day, busted in 24th as around him players were happily bagging up their chips for the night.
For Grafton it was a disappointing early departure after a week of great promise. As he left the tournament floor for the last time he did his best to look on the bright side of what had been a memorable performance. But he knew that even though the plaudits have been many such performances are often forgotten in the shadow of the eventual winner, and that it's final table prize money that funds a step up in stakes.
Out too soon, Sam Grafton
"I'm massively frustrated," said Grafton, who will have to wait for a first breakthrough result. "Obviously I'm really disappointed about the result. I definitely haven't played perfectly by any stretch but at the same time I think I'm kind of alright about busts, it won't devastate me or anything. I'll be back here clicking buttons at the next EPT."
It left Mitchell as the last of the four. He bagged up just short of a million chips after a day that started better than it ended, Mitchell losing chips late on to the chip leader tonight Cyril Andre.
Chip leader Cyril Andre
The Frenchman Andre also saw off the last of the champions Lucien Cohen (Salvatore Bonavena departed in 48th place). Cohen is a divisive figure when he plays, alienating some, simply annoying the rest. In light of this Andre took some belated pleasure in seeing off the former winner, inking "Deratiseur" ("rat-killer") onto his bag of chips. By that time Cohen had safely departed via the pay-out desk.
No double Deauville win for Lucien Cohen
England's loss today proved France's gain. Andre, on 2,108,000, leads a top five of French players. Just behind the leader is Remi Castaignon with 1,997,000 and the deadly serious Hugo Pingray has 1,864,000. Aurelien Guiglini with 1,671,000 and Matthieu Herve with 1,194,000 are in fourth and fifth place.
Scotland's Gordon Huntly, albeit by way of Thailand, also finished strongly, finishing with a little more than a million. His day had been helped by good fortune against Thomas Butzhammer followed by a series of well played pots. The Scot is playing some of the best poker of his career.
"I didn't come here to fold today," said Huntly, who admitted to loving playing this stage of the tournament, and who bolstered his stack in a key hand against Shahaf Hadaya, when he flatted with aces and got his chips in against Hadaya's pocket kings.
That helped send Hadaya, chip leader coming into the day, on his way to the rail in 32nd, leaving Huntly with a good stack, one which could well lead the ANZPT winner to his first EPT final of what has proved a frenetic competition.
"I haven't seen a lot of slowing down in the play here. Obviously this gives you some challenges when you think you may be good. I'm okay with that, but you've just got to choose your spots well and hope you're being smiled upon."
As far as experience goes the rest of the field is undergoing a steep learning curve. Walid Bou Habib will return tomorrow, as will Jeffrey Hakim, some of the more recognizable faces left, although both are located towards the bottom of the chip counts, a full list of which can be found here.
The Lebanese pair of Joseph Mouawad (no, not that Joseph Mouawad), and Joseph El Khoury are mid-pack, while the only player technically unable to drive here, Glen Cymbaluk, from Canada, is one of nine players above the million mark.
It was a speedy day in the conference centre of Casino Deauville, with play wrapped up in a little more than five hours. You can make your own prediction as to why things have gone so quickly - a slightly smaller field than last year, the fact that bets have to be doubled (making for some big pots), or the general enthusiasm of the local contingent. Whatever it is will no doubt play apart tomorrow when 23 will become eight, ahead of the final table on Saturday.
Here's how they'll line up tomorrow:
1 1 Fernand Michelet, France, 534,000
1 2 James Mitchell, UK, 990,000
1 3 Joseph El Khoury, Lebanon, 935,000
1 4 Yury Gulyy, Russia, 713,000
1 5 Jean Pierre Petroli, France, 770,000
1 6 Aurelien Guiglini, France, 1,671,000
1 7 Pascal Aznar, France, 706,000
1 8 Glen Cymbaluk, Canada , 1,100,000
2 1 Noel Gaens, Belgium, 443,000
2 2 Cyril Andre, France, 2,108,000
2 3 Walid Bou Habbib, Lebanon, 676,000
2 4 Enrico Rudelitz, Germany, 1,100,000
2 5 Matthieu Herve, France, 1,194,000
2 6 Freerk Post, Netherlands, 682,000
2 7 Romeo Robert, Belgium, 972,000
2 8 Gordon Huntly, UK, 1,015,000
3 1 Hugo Pingray, France, 1,864,000
3 2 Eilert Eilertsen, Norway, 1,000,000
3 3 Joseph Mouawad, Lebanon, 886,000
3 4 Jeffrey Hakim, Lebanon, 474,000
3 5 Remi Castaignon, France, 1,997,000
3 6 Franck Kalfon, France, 645,000
3 7 Eric Sfez, France, 883,000
It may have been quick but there are still plenty of things to catch up on, included in the links below, which also give details of the High Roller event which began today:
Continued live coverage of the High Roller event will continue on the live coverage page until play ends tonight. Coverage of the main event will continue tomorrow starting at 12noon, with EPT Live broadcasting from the very start.
Lastly, don't forget the Twitter contest ends tonight. Find out more about how you can win through to "The Big $22".
Stephen Bartley is a PokerStars Blog reporter