EPT10 Deauville: A tricky trip to the Triple Crown

The one in horse racing is the most famous, the last claimed by Affirmed way back in 1978. In baseball it had been even longer -- Carl Yastrzemski in 1967 -- since one had been won, then Miguel Cabrera got there two years ago.

Poker also has its Triple Crown, a more recent creation. A side effect, if you will, resulting from the boom in tournament poker over the last decade-plus. Earning (1) a World Series of Poker bracelet, (2) a World Poker Tour title, and (3) a European Poker Tour Main Event earns a player the designation.

With his 2007 WPT Doyle Brunson Five Diamond World Poker Classic victory (worth a heady $2,482,605) and a win at the WSOP in 2011 in a $1,500 seven-card stud event (for a more modest $122,909), Eugene Katchalov has been chasing an EPT trophy to complete his tourney trilogy, his triumphant triumvirate, his trio of toppermosts.

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Triple Crown in his sights

With the WSOP awarding 70-plus bracelets per calendar year and the WPT offering upwards to two dozen chances every 12 months, it is readily apparent that the EPT leg becomes comparatively more difficult to obtain. There will be eight EPT Main Event winners in Season 10, meaning fewer opportunities for someone like Katchalov to get there.

We were mentioning again earlier Katchalov's friend and fellow Team PokerStars Pro Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier and how the pair help motivate each other when it comes to staying physically fit. So, too, does ElkY provide a similar impetus for Katchalov in this context, as Grospellier is one of just five players to date to have won the Triple Crown.

Gavin Griffin was the first to pick up wins in all three venues, and he's since been joined by four others:

Gavin Griffin
WSOP $3,000 Pot-Limit Hold'em (2004)
EPT3 Grand Final Monte Carlo (2007)
WPT Borgata Open (2008)

Roland de Wolfe
WPT Grand Prix de Paris (2005)
EPT3 Dublin (2006)
WSOP $5,000 Pot-Limit Omaha (2009)

Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier
EPT4 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure (2008)
WPT Festa al Lago (2008)
WSOP $10,000 Seven-Card Stud (2011)

Jake Cody
EPT6 Deauville (2010)
WPT London (2010)
WSOP $25,000 No-Limit Hold'em Heads-Up (2011)

Davidi Kitai
WSOP $2,000 Pot-Limit Hold'em (2008) & WSOP $5,000 Pot-Limit Hold'em (2013)
WPT Celebrity Invitational (2011)
EPT Berlin (2012)

While Katchalov chases the Triple Crown in the corner of the Casino Barrière's poker room, Triple Crown holder Kitai sits just a few yards away at the final table of the High Roller. (For some Kitai's membership earns an asterisk thanks to the WPT win coming in a non-open event, albeit one with 482 entries.)

We've mentioned Katchalov coming close a couple of years ago, taking third in the EPT8 Barcelona Main Event won by Martin Schleich. Schleich is also at that High Roller final table with Kitai where Kitai is close to leader Albert Daher while Schleich is on a short stack.

With Carlo De Benedittis's exit in seventh just one hand after Anthony Lerust (and his rail) departed, just six remain in the Main with Katchalov presently in third position with nearly 2.8 million.

But chip leader Sotirios Koutoupas has extended his lead on the field and is now up close to 8 million -- in other words, nearly triple Eugene's chips.

But as four decades' worth of thoroughbreds and thousands of baseball players well know, Triple Crowns don't come easy.

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Follow our coverage of the Main Event at EPT Deauville by heading to the main EPT Deauville page. There's hand-by-hand coverage in the top panel, plus chip counts, and feature pieces below. Follow the High Roller on the High Roller page. EPT Live is also on, so tune in there for a close-up view of the action.

Martin Harris is Freelance Contributor to the PokerStars Blog.

Martin Harris
@hardboiledpoker in European Poker Tour