EPT10 Deauville: Chips (and reporters) flying to the feature table

If we were birds and thus really did look at a roomful of poker tables from a "bird's eye view," with a knowledge of the Day 4 table draw we might have imagined one table in particular -- Table 11 -- being lifted up from the floor, transported toward the tourney room's corner, and dropped down amid the spotlights.

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That's because with four players returning to stacks of one million-plus today, three of them had drawn seats around Table 11 -- Team PokerStars Pro Eugene Katchalov of the Ukraine (1,194,000), Norbert Szecsi of Hungary (1,184,000), and the Greek Sotirios Koutoupos (1,129,000).

My colleague Howard Swains flapped his reporter wings to the other side of the room to start play to look in on Ludovic Gelich before his elimination. Meanwhile I perched on the rail with the others -- and viewers at home watching EPTLive -- to see what might happen with all of those big stacks.

With the average stack just under half a million -- and the rest of the feature table hovering around that mark aside from the short-stacked Frenchman, Michel Pomaret -- it was a wonder the table didn't tip over to the long side opposite the dealer where all of those chips sat before seats 4, 5, and 7.

Short stack struggles

It was Pomeret initially taking his short stack up against the table's millionaires. First came a preflop shove from under the gun at the start of play, called by Katchalov from the button. It was A♠K♦ versus A♦K♣, and a ten-high board with no flushes gave EPTLive guys an early chance to sing "Everybody Loves a Chop Pot."

About a half-hour later, Koutoupas became the object of Pomeret's chip-building efforts. A button raise from Pomeret and big blind call from Koutoupas, then a pair of checks brought them to the turn with the board showing 8♠Q♦3♠[10h].

When Koutoupos led for 27,000, Pomeret raised to 60,000. The Greek leaned forward.

"How much do you play behind?" asked Koutoupos. "Twenty... two hundred... two hundred twenty thousand... excuse me," answered Pomeret, using more words and more time to answer than seemed essential.

Koutoupos leaned back, then called.

The river brought the 4♦ and a quick check from Koutoupos, and acting with a great deal more economy than he'd previously showed, Pomeret shoved in a flash. Koutoupos only waited a beat before calling, tabling his Q♠2♠ for top pair.

Pomeret shook his head slightly while showing his A♠K♦ -- the hand that had earned him half a pot before, and none of it this time around. He sat with his arms folded for a moment, smiling grimly, then at last patted the table with both palms, wishing the table luck departed to collect his winnings for finishing 39th ($14,010). Meanwhile, Koutoupos collected the chips.

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Sotirios Koutoupos

Big stacks bully

Another short stack and Frenchman -- Mustapha Amaouche -- came to take Pomeret's vacated seat, and unlike his countryman he'd spend the level steering clear of the others. Meanwhile the big stacks continued to pressure the others.

The Romanian Ghoerge Gradinaru raised his button, but Katchalov three-bet him from the blinds. A four- and then five-bet ensued, and after a tank Gradinaru folded, having gone from 521,000 to 310,000 without getting to see a flop.

Katchalov kept right on defending his blind versus late raises, later taking another pot off of Norbert Szecsi to move up over 1.4 million. Then it was the Brit Alexander Goulder raising Koutoupas's small blind, the latter's three-bet pushing Goulder aside.

As the level came to a close, a happier turn of events from Goulder helped elevate him to the category of big-stacked players. An open shove from Aurelien Soutchkov in the small blind with J♦J♠ was quickly called by Goulder who held A♥K♥, and an ace on board sent Soutchov out in 32nd ($14,010).

Maenpaa now the man

We pulled back from the feature table momentarily as the level concluded. Ten players fell during Day 4's first 90-minute level, two from feature table. Another big stack -- Tatu Maenpaa of Finland -- had taken a seat there just before the break.

Five millionarires were now at the feature table -- Koutoupas (1,448,000), Katchalov (1,354,000), Maenpaa (1,283,000), Szecsi (1,250,000), and Goulder (1,228,000) -- with just a couple more elsewhere scattered among the field. Somehow table's legs were still holding up under the weight.

Then as Level 21 began, the inevitable finally happened as two big stacks clashed. Maenpaa claimed all of Szecsi's stack in a hand that saw him shoving a two-hearted flop with K♥Q♥ and Szecsi calling with A♥A♠. One more heart came on the turn to give Maenpaa the flush, and when the river was a club Szecsi was out in 31st ($15,950) and the Finn is now soaring over the field with more than 2.5 million.

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Tatu Maenpaa

We continue circling the field, although like birds attracted to seed, we're finding it hard not to hover in the corner where all of the chips seem to be.

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Follow our coverage from 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. EPT Live also starts today, 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