EPT10 Deauville: Who's your favourite now?
In Barcelona during Season 9, PokerStars Blog published a couple of articles looking at the long-standing EPT double-champion hoodoo, the statistical anomaly that has left us with unique winners of each of the EPT Main Events. (Part one. Part two.)
When we published those pieces, 84 tournaments had been played without a double winner, and we are already now another season and a half down the road with the jinx still in place. Mike McDonald may have been chip-leader heads up at the PCA earlier this month, but he didn't win. Of course he didn't. The "Double Champion" rosette is still in its glass case.
It is time maybe to reassess the contenders for that crown and to determine whether our shortlist of the most likely needs updating. We've seen another 12 winners now, all of whom are obviously in the running. And in actual fact, they can probably be considered more likely than many of the early champions as they have had their notable result during this more advanced period of the EPT.
It's a different game in Season 10 to that of Season 1 or 2, and it's hard to imagine, say, Jan Boubli managing to steer his way back to a final table.
The single most important criterion for winning an EPT Main Event is playing an EPT Main Event. That sounds obvious, but it's the reason that many of our brilliant former champions are highly unlikely to become a two-time winner. Antonio Matias is more likely to be the first double champ than Patrik Antonius; Salvatore Bonavena a bigger favourite than Julian Thew.
You have to be in it to win it, and many former champions simply are not.
Julian Track, who won in Prague just before Christmas, goes straight on to the list containing the likes of Antonius, Thew, Ram Vaswani, Joseph Mouawad and Jeff Williams, for example. Track was quite plain in his dislike for live poker, even after he took down that maiden title on his first appearance on the EPT. And so we can probably rule him out for a second crown solely on that basis.
Daniel Pidun, who won in Berlin last season, never really plays anywhere other than his home EPT in the German capital. And we're not going back to Berlin this time, so that kind of rules him out.
At the other end of the spectrum, the EPT stalwarts Ludovic Lacay, Ramzi Jelassi and Steve O'Dwyer have all broken their ducks since the first article was written and those three remain regulars on the tour. Tom Middleton also picked up a title in Barcelona this year and seems set to appear at most destinations, alongside the newly-crowned PCA champion Dominik Panka. These are early days for the Polish player, but he seems to have an appetite.
All of the above must now therefore join the likes of Kevin MacPhee, Jake Cody, David Vamplew, Michael Tureniec, Davidi Kitai, ElkY, Liv Boeree, Anton Wigg and Zimnan Ziyard in the group labelled "Rarely absent". The favourites for two-time glory are all in that bunch.
Although the boundaries of these categories are elastic, there have been some notables dropping out of that group over the past 18 months. For one reason or another, Arnaud Mattern, Sandra Naujoks, Roberto Romanello, Sebastian Ruthenberg, Rupert Elder and Andrey Pateychuk have scarcely been seen this year.
Even Jason Mercier is not as frequent a traveller as he once was, while my left-field pick for glory, Ronnie Kaiser, has also not really been seen since his virtuoso display in Tallinn. They also all therefore drop out of the top group.
EPT Deauville is actually a good place to run the rule over the field in this contest. Coming so close to the PCA, and clashing with the Aussie Millions, Deauville doesn't always attract as many of the top pros as other stops. A huge percentage of the field here is often drawn from France's thriving poker communities rather than the pool of well-known travelling pros.
It follows that if a former champ plays here (eschewing Australia), they can be considered serious about their challenge for two-time glory. MacPhee, Vamplew, Wigg, Tureniec, Kitai, ElkY, Ziyard, Lacay and O'Dwyer all played here, as well as Kent Lundmark, who is showing up very regularly these days. (Vicky Coren is also present, but she did not play at the PCA.)
We were saying during seasons seven through nine that the first two-time champion may not have even won his or her first title yet, but I suspect that is no longer true. It just seems too unlikely (based on nothing but dumb intuition, I grant you) that we could have someone new go back-to-back or something similar. That's not to say someone like Andrew Chen or Martin Jacobson won't finally run good when it matters -- twice -- but for the moment let's restrict our guesses to one-time champions.
If it was down to me, I would look seriously at the following: Ludovic Lacay, Jake Cody, ElkY, Kevin MacPhee, Anton Wigg, David Vamplew and Michael Tureniec. They have proven ability in tournaments of all sizes, both online and live, and all play on the EPT a lot. (Oh yeah, and McDonald. If anyone can get himself back in the position to try again, it's Timex.)
My picks: Lacay and Cody. Feel free to tweet your guesses to @PokerStarsBlog with the hashtag #DoubleChamp. We'll collate the guesses and maybe sort out some kind of prize if (when!) it ever happens.
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.