EPT9 Grand Final Day 4: Mateusz Moolhuizen, TV star whether he likes it or not
"Be not afraid of greatness: some are born great, some achieve greatness and some have greatness thrust upon them." It's from Shakespeare, of course. Twelfth Night to be precise. And isn't it just like Mateusz Moolhuizen to have some pretentious blog writer reaching for the bard to introduce this unassuming Dutch player.
Over the past few weeks, Moolhuizen has been engaged in some kind of battle of wills with the poker gods and, in particular, the television poker gods. Moolhuizen played all of his EPT Berlin on the feature table, busting on Day 1. Then here in Monaco, his table was again picked for the studio treatment during the opening day.
Then on day two, and day three, he was back again. And even during a period when Moolhuizen's table was out on the floor, he was in the big blind when someone was eliminated from the TV set, making him rack up his chips and head back to the table under the lights. Whether or not Moolhuizen wanted to be famous, he had no choice. Fame was being thrust upon him.
"In Berlin, I was there but was really short, and every time someone bust from our table a new big gun would come with a lot of chips," Moolhuizen said this morning. "I felt like, 'Well, this is the first time on the TV table for me, but I hope it is the last time until the final.'"
He didn't get either part of that wish: he missed the final, but has been forced back to the TV table regardless. However if you will keep making deep runs in major tournaments, the attentions of the cameras and microphones are an occupational hazard. Even when Moolhuizen had some blessed relief from the hole cameras and television stage yesterday, his very presence on the final three tables of this enormous tournament meant television crews tightly ganged around him.
It has at least allowed friends scattered across Europe keep tabs on the player who is enjoying a real breakout season on the EPT. Originally half Egyptian and half Polish, Moolhuizen was brought up in the Netherlands and then moved to Warsaw a couple of months ago to study sport management. Everyone in all the places he has called home have been tuning in to watch him over the past few years, winning the Unibet Open in Malta in March 2011, then cashing three times at the PCA, before final-tabling the Berlin Cup High Roller in the German leg of the EPT. And now this.
"I don't mind it," Moolhuizen said. "I like the publicity; it's cool. Everybody at home is following the action, all my friends, all my poker friends from Poland and Holland, all my family, so I like it. Now it's getting close, so now everybody is watching."
Moolhuizen turned 24 last week, while contesting the IPT in Sanremo, but it was actually a birthday to forget. "Every tournament I bricked," he said, before realising things had got even worse. He had lost his passport somewhere in Italy, jeopardising his participation at the EPT Grand Final, for which he had qualified on PokerStars.
"He came over and asked if he could play the main event, and I said, well if you have some kind of ID we'll see if we can get you in," said Teresa Nousiainen, our tournament director here in Monaco. Nousiainen knew Moolhuizen from his regular appearances on the EPT this year and there's always special treatment for the famous. "He had a little bit of bad karma in Sanremo, but now he is in the final 16," Nousiainen said.
That, too, was a struggle though. "I've had the most coolers in this tournament that I've ever had: queens against aces, kings against aces, ace-king suited against kings," Moolhuizen said. "There have been a lot of set ups, but it was never for my entire tournament life, so I kept surviving and just grinding myself up again. After day two and day three I said to Frank (Dutch poker reporter) that it's a miracle I'm still in, so let's just do this now."
Day five would actually prove to be Moolhuizen's last here in Monaco. In the first level of the day, he found kings but lost to Grant Levy's ace-jack, busting in 16th place for €37,000. But if ever there was a player moving in the right direction in this game, it is Moolhuizen, who is already one of those players for whom any set back only seems to make him stronger.
A quick note on how to follow our coverage of the PokerStars and Monte-Carlo® Casino European Poker Tour Grand Final. Head to the main EPT Monaco page, where you will find hand-by-hand coverage from the tables in the panel at the top of the page, which also includes current chip counts and payouts as they happen.
Our feature coverage can be found below the panel, including the latest from the side events. And don't forget EPT Live. How could you? It's live now on PokerStars.tv.
Also we have the €25,000 High Roller going on, which we'll dip into throughout the day. Hand-by-hand coverage of that is on the High Roller page.