EPT11 Barcelona: Nunes and Downes take down the Takedown with style
It was an event about skill, about luck, about intrigue, even sabotage (maybe, probably not). Whatever it was, this was competition at its fiercest, and with a few laughs thrown in along the way. Using a unique combination of elements we saw poker skills combined with imagination, and even nautical know-how. This could only be the EPT100 Takedown.
In the best traditions of these niche events, PokerStars pulled out a few pages of the originality book and waited to see what happened. The resulting plan was simple. That's a lie. It wasn't. But sometimes that makes for the best kind of contest, one that goes to the wire, and takes someone from marketing to explain it all. Luckily we had all of those.
So here goes.
Five qualifiers--who finsihed top of a special freeroll run for PokerStars qualifiers to Barcelona--were to take part, selecting their Team Pro of choice in their order of qualification. That list was made up of the genial bunch of Jake Cody, Theo Jorgensen, Joao Nunes, George Danzer and Christophe De Meulder.
The qualifiers were Primoz Adamic from Slovenia (Cody), Mateusz Mlynarczyk from Poland (Danzer), Gianfranco Visalli from Italy (Jorgensen), Luciana Manolea from Romania (De Meulder) and Bud Downes from the UK (Nunes)
Then came a series of challenges.
First up a Facebook contest, the results of which you can see for yourself here. Each pair set off in a taxi with an hour to take a photo of themselves with the PokerStars stuffed shark in the most creative fashion. Each photo would then be posted on Facebook with the most "liked" image meaning more chips for the winning team in the sit and go finale later in the day.
Then, having rushed back by taxi, the ten players re-convened in the Port Olympic marina, a short walk from Casino Barcelona, to race against each other on jet-skis, the results of which also determined their starting stacks.
After a starter and main course lunch together, teams then broke away to discuss tactics over desert (presumably with two spoons), before finally getting their hands on some chips for an all-out struggle to win one of three prizes amounting to entry into varying side events later this week.
As you might imagine, watching this was like tagging along with a highly ambitious school trip, taking in every page of the guide book in a little more than an afternoon.
You've never really seen a Team Pro in action until he's stripped to the waist and facing the prospect of plunging half naked into the cold Mediterranean. George Danzer, Mohawk immaculately raised, was looking in the face of real fear, and not entirely sure he liked what was looking back. In contrast Jake Cody was more interested in the suggestions being bandied about, specifically whether it would be a timed course or a straight line race?
"But there's no skill if it's a straight line," said Cody, wearing shorts for the first time in his life, who from the start had immersed himself in the single goal of winning the whole thing. Cue poker references, and another glance at the horizon and a best guess of how cold things could get if you misjudged a hairpin turn.
While the other prepared themselves for action Theo Jorgensen arrived late, running the last few steps for appearance's sake, before calmly opting to take part in his clothes. He too was relishing the competition, happily taking the jet-ski with the brakes rumoured to be unserviceable, which, in black and white, looked like a captured orca being manhandled into doing whatever cruel tricks its handlers wished.
And so I counted them all out, and hoped to be able to count them all back again. After laps around a track it was the previously nervous Danzer who sailed home victorious, his mohawk cutting through the air like an inverted keel, and very possibly helping with stability going into the corners.
And so to the tournament room. Points from the Facebook posts and the jet-skiing, had put Danzer, Nunes and Adamic on the biggest stacks, with the scores looking like this:
1. Theo Jorgensen - 8,250
2. George Danzer - 8,500
3. Luciana Manolea - 7,000
4. Primoz Adamic - 8,500
5. Joao Nunes - 8,500
1. Christophe De Meulder - 7,250
2. Mateusz Mlynarczyk - 8,250
3. Jake Cody - 8,250
4. Gianfranco Visalli - 7,500
5. Bud Downes - 7,750
The photos were fun, the jet-skiing exciting but it was the poker they had come for, albeit with different levels of experience, from keen amateurs to EPT regulars. But all that translated into a highly competitive poker session.
After a couple of hours' of play the mathematical possibilities were no longer in doubt, although for a while there had been one scenario that ensured a rather awkward draw. Instead it played out with a convincing win for Team Nunes/Downes, each winning their sit & gos to get their moment in front of the camera.
"It was absolutely brilliant," said Downes. "I couldn't have asked for more. The best bit was teaming up with Mr Nunes. He's a ledge'!"
"I had an amazing time," said Manolea, who had fun tangling with Jorgensen at the table on more than one occasion. "I couldn't pick a favourite part, they were all good, although I liked Theo's table talk."
It was a sentiment shared by third place Visalli: "Playing with the Team Pros was the best part of the day," he said. "I had a lot of fun with Theo."
As is the case with such events, taking part in the first place was prize enough. Well almost.
"I was trying to win," said Cody with a grin. "I wasn't messing around!"
Alas he and his team mate Adamic settled for second--once a Facebook-posting-jet-skiing-poker-player always a Facebook-posting-jet-skiing-poker-player.
So at the close there was a €500 Deep Stack ticket for Jorgensen's teammate Gianfranco Visalli, a €1,000 Turbo ticket for Cody' buddy Primož Adamič, while Bud Downes happily took possession of a ticket to the €2k deep stack, to the delight of his Team Pro, "the ledge", Nunes.
Let's do this again sometime.
Postscript: Actually, Downes was pretty keen not to use the €2,000 ticket. The reason? He's currently in the Main Event, on screen having been on the EPT Live webcast feature table since the start of the broadcast. And he fully intends to stay there.
Stephen Bartley is a staff writer for the PokerStars Blog.