EPT10 Vienna: Roman Cieslik abandons surrender plan, decides to fight

At the end of Day 1A, the dealer on table seven was presented with a question she had never faced before. "Can I give him my chips?" said the player in seat three. "I don't want them. Who wants them?"

The player, Roman Cieslik from Germany, seemed totally on the level. He was trying to give away his stack to a table-mate.


Tournament room in Vienna: full of tough decisions

A few minutes before, the tournament director had announced that they would play four more hands, a standard procedure for the end of a day of tournament poker. Cieslik had a micro-stack, less than 5,000 tournament points, and had hatched a plan to move in regardless on the final hand.

He had miscounted, however, meaning that just as he was preparing to make his grand, last-gasp, do-or-die, sh*t-or-bust, stand, the dealer started handing round the bags and telling players to stow their chips. Faced with two more nights in a hotel before he could be reunited with this pitiful stack (this was Day 1A remember), Cieslik did not seem keen to prolong the agony. He proffered his four red chips and three blacks (4,300 total) to anyone who showed an interest.

It probably goes without saying, but this isn't really allowed under tournament rules. One player cannot simply hand over his or her chips to another separate from the field of battle. In actual fact, there are also strict rules against chip-dumping, as it's known, during a real hand. There are strong penalties for anyone suspected of making an agreement to move chips illegitimately from one stack to another.

The dealer did the only thing she really could: she ignored Cieslik's pleas to be able to hand over his chips. He was forced to bag them up, sign his name and head back to his hotel like the rest of the survivors. If he subsequently wanted to head off into the night, never to return, that was his business. He would simply be blinded away on the resumption of the tournament on Day 2.

For fairly obvious reasons, I was intrigued to see what happened to Cieslik's stack this morning as we reconvened at the Hofburg Palace for Day 2. Would we be looking at a no show from Cieslik, who was indeed the equal shortest stack in the room?

The answer quickly became clear. Absolutely not. Cieslik was one of the first players to take his seat today and had entirely changed his mindset.

"I decide to fight," Cieslik said. "I fight because nothing is impossible." He lifted up his stack with one hand and raised the thumb of the other. He told me he hadn't been entirely serious with his offer at the end of Day 1A; he knew he would be back.


Roman Cieslik: shorty 1

In fact, of all the people in the room, Cieslik should know never to retire from the fight before any last hope is extinguished. He quickly launched into an anecdote from October 2011, the story of how he won a tournament in Kings Casino, Rozvadov, despite being down to three big blinds at one point.

Cieslik told me how he had ground out the fallow period in that tournament, open folding ace-jack (and being shown ace-king) and then open folding pocket nines (and being shown pocket tens). He then got his chips in when he was ahead, pulled off a series of double ups, and ended up winning €44,000, the biggest result of his career so far.

One of his new table-mates muttered the inevitable "chip and a chair" line, and Cieslik nodded his head happily. He is going to fight.

Over the other side of the room, Tim Eulenbach was returning to a stack the exact same size as Cieslik's. Eulenbach had brought some attitude with him too, in the form of a beanie hat bearing the motto "New York F*****' City" (without the asterisks). He looked to his left at the big stack of Antoine Saout and knew he would have his work cut out.


Tim Eulenbach: shorty 2

But neither Eulenbach nor Cieslik were the first out. Indeed, at time of writing, they are both still in the tournament. The same cannot be said of Alexander Debus, who made a stand for his last 11,500 with 3♦4♦ and was called by Paul Berende's K♣[10h]. A king on the flop ended that pretty quickly.

Thomas Scholze was out from a neighbouring table soon after.

Day 2 of EPT Vienna is under way. Click through to the main EPT Vienna page for all the action.

Howard Swains
@howardswains in European Poker Tour