EPT10 Deauville: Eli Heath does battle against the random, wins
It won't have escaped many people's notice, but there are a lot of French here in Deauville this week. Honestly, the whole town is in black and white with subtitles, and just take a look at the nationalities pie chart of the starting field.
Of all the stops on the tour, the field here is the most "local", ie, populated by players from the home country. Barcelona has an amazing number of Spanish, Sanremo is full of Italians, and German players flock to Berlin. But those fields are also full of Brits, Americans and Canadians; the concentration of home representatives is always higher here. (See figures below.)
According to Eli Heath, the 25-year-old British pro, the absent foreigners are missing out. Heath has been travelling the EPT circuit for a couple of years, usually with his friend and fellow poker player Olof Haglund, but is finding Deauville to be the very best spot of the lot.
"Hoping it'll be Dough-Ville by the the end of the week!" Heath tweeted as he set off to the Normandy coast, via Paris. And about 24 hours later he had won his first event: the €800 Random Bounty tournament, good for €28,000.
Heath is now closing in on the money in the Main Event, among the 116 players still remaining at time of writing (95 get paid), and is clearly having an enormous amount of fun in France.
"It's crazy," Heath said. "Most of the other EPTs are pretty tough, but at this one there's just so many French players, it's awesome. I'd recommend it to most regulars who want to come and play."
He added: "Half the field is French, doing a lot of unusual stuff. It's quite easy to accumulate chips. It's been awesome fun so far."
Players bandy about terms like "soft" pretty often without necessarily going into specifics, and Heath described the field here with that word in a tweet towards the start of day three. But the "soft" here is different from other places, with players' unpredictability proving its own challenge.
"It's very, very random," Heath said. "You have to watch what one guy is doing and try to pick up what you can. It's difficult because they are so random, but generally it's "bad" random rather than "good" random, if that makes sense.
"They're on the tight passive side. They call a lot pre-flop and then you can out-play them post-flop. They'll put a lot of money in the pot before the flop and if they don't make their hand, then they just give the pot away to you basically."
Heath may have found things slightly more difficult today, with the uber-aggressive Ludovich Geilich sitting to his immediate right. That is, of course, the best place to have someone like Geilich, but the Scottish player, who is a UKIPT champion and has made an EPT final table, is definitely "good" random. Heath will likely have found it hard to get his chips into the pot first.
But "randomness" is certainly something he has had to embrace, starting with that "random bounty" triumph. In that tournament, each player starts with a bounty on his or her head, worth either €100 or €1,000. (There are nine of the former to every one of the latter.)
"When you bust someone, you get their player card and the floor staff comes over and they give you either a €100 or a €1,000 chip," Heath said. "It's quite exciting seeing when you knock someone out seeing whether you get a 1K or a 100. I only got one €1,000 chip at the end and five €100 ones. But some guys had, like, three 1K bounty chips and the buy-in is only €1,000, so it can be good.
"It's more of a fun tournament than a big money one, but it's really nice to take it down, obviously. This has been a very fun trip."
Percentage of "home" players in Season 10 fields:
Deauville - 40%
Berlin - 30%
Sanremo - 27% (Season 9 numbers)
London - 25%
Barcelona - 9%
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.