EPT9 Deauville Day 5: Jeffrey Hakim steps into the limelight

Jeffrey Hakim's name has been in my notebook for two days now, reminding me that it was about time the Lebanese got some attention.

The first reminder came when Hakim cleared the bubble. Bubbles always bring back memories of Hakim's departure in EPT Barcelona a year ago. Back then he'd been the bubble boy, a moment captured by our resident photographer Neil Stoddart, who homed in on Hakim, captured the moment of his departure. Hakim's expression perfectly summed up the irritation and resignation of a such a moment to a pro who has seen it all.

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Jeffrey Hakim faces reality on the bubble in Barcelona

In Deauville, Hakim has not exactly been thrust among the chip leaders, and in the days leading up to today has been in the shadows of the more volatile lime-lit players, such as James Mitchell on the feature table and Sam Grafton, who departed in the last hand of the day yesterday in 24th place. Now could be Hakim's opportunity to step forward.

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Jeffrey Hakim

For such a regular on the EPT it's odd not to have seen Hakim feature more prominently in the business end of the pay-out list, although he has reached the penultimate day of both the past two EPT Berlin events. But a look at his record shows the results for a jobbing poker pro, scoring in various events around the world, and Hakim on table one, just played the type of level that could lead him to a first final table.

Hakim turned 24 big blinds into more than 1.7 million in the space of ninety minutes and, despite having the chip leader, Remi Castaignon, immediately to his right, has taken on the role as table champion, dictating the play and taking chips first from Franck Kalfon, and then again from Kalfon, who was reduced to shaking his head by Hakim who looks increasingly confident.

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Hakim takes more chips from Remi Castaignon

Actually if you were to describe how Hakim looks it would be calm. Hidden behind a pair of mirrored aviator glasses, he could be cast as the gritty sergeant tasked with capturing a hill in a 1960s epic war movie, alongside Telly Savalas. He has the stubble for it and would probably be asked to chew a cigar.

Here he reached the break with a smile on his face, describing this level to a Dutch interviewer as "a lot better."

"This was an exceptional level," he said, adding that it was turning into a good event for the Lebanese. Hakim tops the number of cashes leader board and is one of four in the closing stages, along with Walid Bou-Habib, Joseph El Khoury and Joseph Mouawad. "It would be quite the story if two or three of use reached the final."

Hakim is gracious to the end, but right now of the four it's he who's most likely to succeed.

Throughout the day, our live coverage will be on the EPT Deauville main event page. And you can also watch it on EPT Live on PokerStars.tv. But there's also the High Roller playing its second day simultaneously. Tune in to that too.

Stephen Bartley is a PokerStars Blog reporter