EPT10 Deauville: Katchalov looking to thwart Koutoupas in Greek odyssey, Triple Crown within reach
Eugene Katchalov is on the verge of completing his Triple Crown with his second-ever EPT Main Event final table appearance. The Ukrainian Team PokerStars Pro will have his work cut out if he's to convert his second-place stack into a first Ukrainian EPT win: chip leader Sotirios Koutoupas is playing with the full weight of a nation behind him.
"I want to be the first Greek player who wins the EPT," Koutoupas told us two days ago. "I'll do my best."
That best is good for a huge 6,400,000 stack and the part-time player is looking determined that he'll go one step further than his runner-up spot to Ramzi Jelassi at EPT Prague last season. Koutoupas has grown in confidence since then, banking two further cashes in EPT Main Events. Given his and his countrymen's recent successes, a Greek win would be deserved. A fourth-place finish would be good enough to return Koutoupas to the top of the Greece all-time money list. Given that he's currently got almost a third of the chips in play, you'd imagine that should all but be a shoo-in.
Katchalov came close to closing out his Triple Crown at EPT Barcelona in 2011, but had to settle for third and €315,000. He was far from on top form that day: he was suffering from jet-lag induced insomnia. This time things are very different.
"I feel incredible," said Katchalov. "I am just so happy to get another chance at an EPT title, considering I didn't get it in Barcelona two years ago."
As well as Koutoupas, Katchalov will also have to navigate his way past the collective might of Team GB who have three members at the final table. That trio does not include two-time WSOP bracelet winner JP Kelly who bust out in 10th (€41,200) losing a two-million chip flip, ace-king failing to connect against Eli Heath's pocket eights. Florian Ribouchon's elimination in 9th (€50,530) sealed the final table line-up.
EPT10 Deauville final table
Seat 1: Oliver Price (UK) 1,735,000
Seat 2: Harry Law (UK) 3,130,000
Seat 3: Carlo De Benedittis (Italy) 685,000
Seat 4: Eugene Katchalov (Ukraine) 3,280,000
Seat 5: Anthony Lerust (France) 1,295,000
Seat 6: Eli Heath (UK) 2,475,000
Seat 7: Rustem Muratov (Russia) 1,070,000
Seat 8: Sotirios Koutoupas (Greece) 6,400,000
Heath, who has already won a side event here for €28,000, is joined by fellow Brits Oliver Price and Harry Law. Price ran deep in the WSOP Main Event last year where he finished 49th for $151,063. The experience of the pressure in that event will no doubt help him with nerves tomorrow. Law, who you may have been reading about as Chun Ho Law, is primarily a live cash game player who has made the very profitable decision of splashing around in a tournament for a change.
"Everyone calls me Harry," Law told the PokerStars Blog while bagging up today. "No one ever calls me that other name."
France still in with a shot
The host nation's hopes were pinned on Florian Ribouchon and Anthony Lerust, but Ribouchon had just one of those days where he was constantly second-best. He eventually bubbled the official final table when he ran sixes into Koutoupas' pocket eights. He collected €50,530, a large return on the €5,300 buy-in, but it will be bittersweet knowing that the final table plays out tomorrow with €614,000 for the winner. Lerust may not have a lot of live cashes to his name, but he's performed well so far. Fortune could yet come calling for a title defence for the Tricolour following Remi Castaignon's victory last year, but Lerust will need to play his little stripy socks off.
The day got off to a flier with the elimination of Bahram Chobineh, whose accidental journey ended with a €27,680 payday when he busted out in 16th. Chobineh was playing the Main Event after losing a bet. The pace did not slow down with five players crashing out in short order: Jean-Yves Malherbe (15th, €31,000), Tatu Maenpaa (14th, €31,000), Dmitri Holdeew (13th, €34,350), Alexandre Amiel (12th, €34,350) and Alex Goulder (11th, €41,200). Then, as mentioned, Kelly clashed with Heath, big blind to button.
Final table payouts
PokerStars Online Qualifier Rustem Muratov got into the event for just €82 and has already turned that into at least €63,900, not to mention a bonus €5,300 for being the last man standing in the Skrill last longer bet. Skrill is the official payment provider sponsor of the European Poker Tour. He and Carlo De Benedittis are the short stacks and will a lot will need to go their if either are to get heads-up.
Join us for the final table tomorrow, which will be streamed on EPTLive, but you can also join the EPT Deauville High Roller updates by using the link supplied below (and quickly get up to speed with the action here). We'll leave you with the runaway chip leader Koutoupas, who we spoke with nine players left.
Click through to live updates, features and interviews from the EPT Deauville Main Event. You can also follow the High Roller updates here. You can also check out all EPT Deauville side event winners.
Rick Dacey is a staff writer for the PokerStars Blog.