EPT11 Prague: Flippin' heck

Super High Roller events on the European Poker Tour are expensive. There's no getting away from that. But with a starting stack of 250,000 chips and a super slow structure, you have the best chance in the game of getting a decent return on investment, at least in term of time spent at the table.

A few paces across an aisle in the tournament room today, however, pretty much the exact opposite applies. This afternoon, the EPT Prague Poker Festival debuted the live version of the Full Tilt Flipouts tournaments that have proved a roaring success online.

A flipout tournament is pretty much an orchestrated carnival of all-ins. With the exception of the very first hand, where players are obliged to speculate "only" half their starting stack on whatever cards they are dealt, they are forced to shove their entire stack in the middle on every deal. It tends to follow that seven (from eight) players lose half their stack on the first hand, then most are polished off on the next.

Hand three will likely be heads up, and it's a bit of a miracle if you get to hand four. "Maybe seven minutes," a dealer said, when I asked him how long he was expecting his shootout table to last. The winners of the individual tables then head to a final, where they play more conventional poker.


Chaos around the Flipout table in Prague

Although this is the first time a flipout tournament has been fully embraced into the festival schedule (there has been one promotional event in Vienna), the event today, costing €100 for a ticket, ran like clockwork. Each player had two chips in their starting stack, the first of which they tossed forward at the outset. With no actual poker to be played, hands were dealt face up and dealers could then extract as much agony as they wished as they dealt flop, turn and river in slo-motion.

David Lappin and Ami Barer were two of the better known faces in the field, and they were on the same table. Barer seemed delighted when he was dealt J♥J♦ (Lappin had A♦[10c]) and the American player would have fancied his chances of amassing a big octuple up when the flop and turn came 2♦5♠8♦J♠. However, the 6♣ on the river left Gregor Abmayr leaping in the air. His 7♦4♦ made a straight and put him into the chip lead.

"All in guys, now we're all in every hand!" the tournament director, walking among the tables, said. "All in every hand!"

The first yelp came from a neighbouring table, where Uri Hader was stacking all the chips. He had flipped well, and won both hands dealt on that table. Soon there was another cry back on Abmayr's table, where he had repeated Hader's feat and taken his record to two from two. That put him in the final.

The last table to finish made it all the way to hand four, mainly because there was a three-way split pot on hand two. But eventually Alin Puscas's 6♠3♦ made a straight on a board of 4♦5♠8♠7♣J♣ and booked him a place in the more conventional stage of the tournament. I timed the whole thing at eight minutes, including a minimum of faff.

The final table players are:

Dimitrios Farmakoulis, Greece
Vladas Burneikis, Lithuania
Yaron Shasho, Israel
Uri Hada, Israel
Andreas Hartmeyer, Germany
Gregor Abmayr, Germany
Dan Blaustein, Israel
Alin Puscas, Romania

They will now play down to a winner and we'll publish the results among all the other side-event reports and round-ups later.

Howard Swains
@howardswains in European Poker Tour