EPT10 Deauville: Before and after Eugene, Part II

The final day of play of the EPT10 Deauville Main Event has begun. From the 671 who started the tournament, just eight are left. Each has played hundreds of hands and made thousands of decisions over the past week amid long, winding journeys to the final table.

Such is the nature of large field tournaments. There's no quick path to victory. It takes time... and patience... and lots of work.

Last Sunday we spoke with Eugene Katchalov at the very first break of Day 1A. He'd chipped up a little during those first couple of hours of play, getting his EPT10 Deauville Main Event off on the right foot.

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We spoke to him then about his long, step-by-step journey toward physical fitness that over the course of many months had created a striking pair of "before" and "after" photos of the Team PokerStars Pro.

It's an inspiring story. In fact, my colleague Rick Dacey and I have been so inspired we've decided to follow Katchalov's advice when he says it's good to have a friend to help push you when it comes to sticking to a regimen of exercise. "Even if you don't work out together," he says, "just having someone to compare your progress with is important" as a mutual motivator.

Rick began 2014 with a goal to run 365 miles during the calendar year. While logging plenty of miles through the air reporting on events for PokerStars in January, he'd only managed eight miles running during the year's first month. Then this morning he added another mile-and-a-half to his total with a windy seaside jog.

Given Rick's modest start, I've decided to chase him this year. My total presently sits at zero, putting me 9.5 miles behind at the moment. And so like Katchalov and his workout partner (and Triple Crown holder), Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier, Rick and I will be pushing each other to reach that finish line by the end of December.

Meanwhile... poker. After talking with Katchalov back on Sunday, we mentioned how Katchalov this week was pursuing a goal of producing another "before and after" set of photos beginning with one of him behind the short starting stack and ending with another of him behind a much bigger one today.

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The EPT Deauville Main Event finish line is still far in the distance, but after taking his starting stack of 30,000 to the 3,280,000 with which he begins the final day, Katchalov has nonetheless again produced another inspiring contrast for us to consider.

Katchalov is making a return trip to an EPT Main Event final table, having come up short in his Triple Crown quest once before with a third-place finish at EPT8 Barcelona. There he was suffering a bit physically, battling tiredness and ill health -- and starting the final table with a much shorter stack (he was eighth of eight to begin) -- to make it as far as he did.

His physical well-being today provides another contrast, then, as does that mountain of chips he brings to take on his last seven opponents. There's a long way to go, though, and leader Sotirios Koutoutpos's 6.4 million-chip stack creates another formidable challenge to overcome.

Stay tuned to see how the race to an EPT trophy goes for those two and everyone else at today's Main Event final table.

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