EPT10 Deauville: The gentle hum of the tournament floor punctured by the rattle of French check-raises
The air-conditioning unit in the ceiling of the EPT Deauville press room is making two noises. There's a low, almost reassuring, hum, but also a constant throaty rattle. It's as if it's constantly clearing its throat to say something, but just can't spit it out. I imagine we'll consider both noises as firm friends by the end of the festival - perhaps less so the frequent metallic clanking of the air hockey table that's at the foot of the stairs. Down on the tournament floor, however, the players are moving to the tune of a different beat.
The riffle of chips chirrup around the room, while every so often a call of 'floor!' breaks the rhythm. EPT floor veteran Luca Vivaldi was called to rule over whether someone has to pay the big blind twice. That player, Marc Uzan according to the media card propped up on his chips, wasn't too happy with the situation, but things soon worked out in his favour. Fergal Nealon had opened the pot and Uzan, still uptempo from being told to pay the big blind, defended - well, you would if you thought you'd paid twice. Nealon barrelled bets on the flop, turn and river of the J♣2♥3♥9♠2♦ board and Uzan check-called down... until the river.
Uzan put in a large check-raise over the top of Fealon's 6,700 river bet. The Irishman didn't like the change of tune. Uzan is a regular in the clubs around Paris, so I've been told by French poker reporters, and would be unlikely to blow up and dust off his stack with seven-high, for instance. Fealon, however, was not to know this. Perhaps the earlier ante-based frustrations factored into his decision, perhaps he had a hand that was too good to pass. He called and was shown pocket threes for a full house. Grim dynamics laid Nealon down to 50,000, boosting Uzan up to 80,000. The chorus of chip riffles resumed.
Alessio Isaia, an authentic Italian IPT and WPT winner, was sandwiched between Michel Leibgorin and Mathurin Fall. While most players come equipped with headphones, tablet and power bar, Leibgorin opts for a cap, dual magnifying glasses and eye drops. One magnifying glass, which lights up at a flick of a switch, is static and points down at his hole cards. The other is something you'd expect to be found alongside the deer stalker hat of Sherlock Holmes, or perhaps in a Victorian pathologist's kit bag: a long handle mounted with a large, thick convex lens. Leibgorin, a player with $751k in career cashes, which included a side event win here last year, points his magnifying glass at the flop each time it's dealt. The glass lingers longer when he's in the pot, as opposed to a cursory flash when not. The Q♦9♣T♠ flop picked up a long inspection when he played a three-bet pot against Isaia. The Italian banged in a 7,500 bet on the river and Leibgorin check-raised hard to 28,500. It was enough to win the pot.
At the next table along, Mohamed Kerkeni told Eugene Katchalov that he, Kerkeni, had lost his balls. Katchalov laughed and continued to stack his chips. It's all part of the gentle hum of a poker tournament. Some get chips, some lose their balls, and somewhere there will always be a Frenchman check-raising.