EPT10 Deauville: Welcome to the Day 1B crowds

Day 1B of EPT10 Deauville is now under way and there was the usual amount of fidgeting and waiting and pacing and chatting and coffee-drinking and cigarette-smoking and nervousness before Edgar Stuchly, President of the European Poker Tour, told dealers to shuffle up and deal.

Jan Heitmann, the Team PokerStars Pro, spent the 20 minutes before the tournament started sitting in a peaked cap beside the pinball machine checking things out on his iPad. When he entered the tournament room, he found he had been drawn in the seat beside his friend, compatriot and fellow Red Spade Natalie Hof, who is playing one of her first EPT Main Events since joining the team.


Natalie Hof, right, and Jamila Von Perger, during the ladies event

Ludovic Lacay was taking things easy at the bar. With his elbow propped beside a pot of coffee, Lacay was chewing the fat with his team manager and then Bruno "Kool Shen" Lopes, who strolled into the room drinking a can of Fanta.

When Lopes first appeared on the European Poker Tour, he was billed as a "celebrity player", two words that tend to be greeted with polite sniggers by reporters and hand-rubbing by players. Their role usually amounts to smiling for the cameras a few times, then calling down three streets with ace-jack on a jack-high board and getting knocked out by pocket kings.

ept madrid_day 3_bruno lopes.jpg

Bruno "Kool Shen" Lopes (pictured in Madrid)

However, Lopes is now no longer followed by television cameras wherever he goes and has seemingly abandoned rap for poker. He has amassed close to $800,000 in live tournament earnings, including a fourth place at EPT Madrid in March 2012. He has also won one €5,000 buy-in event (beating 109 players) and one €1,000 buy-in event (beating 338). He is significantly better than your average celebrity.

Antonio Matias wandered in and found a coffee. Kevin MacPhee followed soon after. They are both former EPT champions, with vastly differing profiles. But both are back in the mix in search of their second crown.

"Players take your seats around the tournament tables," said Thomas Lamatsch, tournament director. "We will try to start the tournament on time." Nobody -- and I mean nobody -- moved. The tables were still empty besides a dealer and nine stacks of chips.

Yann Dion ate a salad. Walid Bou Habib strolled into the room, wearing a daring white track-suit. In the lobby outside the tournament room, one man changed into a fancy dress shark costume. (If this was for a bet, his friends need to take a long look at themselves. He should have been made to wear the costume walking through the Deauville streets too, where it's, you know, unusual. Anything goes in a poker context.)

All of a sudden, the lights in the tournament room dimmed and a video presentation began welcoming players to "THE WORLD'S RICHEST POKER TOUR". Jean-Charles Pitt, the general manager of Casino Barrriere, huddled with Stuchly, Lamatsch and Lucille Denos, another tournament director, in a spotlight to offer his personal welcome to the Normandy coast.


Presentations at the start of Day 1B in Deauville

Stuchly then paid tribute to the "awesome combination of great poker and French hospitality" that we can expect in the town. On his instruction, dealers began their dealing--although something was still amiss.

"Lumiere, s'il vous plait," said Denos, seemingly the only tournament official who had noticed were still in darkness. Someone near a switch duly obliged, and off we went for another eight levels of fun.

There are currently 350 players registered for play today, but the number will only creep upward.

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.

Howard Swains
@howardswains in European Poker Tour