EPT11 Deauville: Ivan Luca's European adventure

Until December of 2014 Ivan Luca had never cashed in an event outside of South America. Then between December 8th and today - so less than two months - he's racked up seven cashes in the Caribbean and Europe for a combined $206,789.

It's a stat that sounds impressive, but it's a bit like when they say a football team hasn't won at home for five months but neglect to say that they've not played a home game for four months. You see until December, the 23-year-old Luca had never played a tournament outside of South America. At the PCA in January Luca said: ""For an Argentinian to play the European tour is not easy - the distance is 11,000 to 14,000km, so the journey and the high travel make it hard to play in the most expensive buy-in tournaments. However, this year I decided to try playing the international circuit, beginning with online qualifiers to different tournaments. Fortunately I won packages for Prague, PCA and LAPT Bahamas."

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The boy can play in Europe too

As we alluded to above it's a move that's gone well for Luca. A fearsome online player under the screename 'Negriin', Luca has outright wins in the Super Tuesday and the Sunday 500 and he's translated those skills to the live arena seamlessly. He snagged a third in a €4,000 side event and a second in a €500 side event in Prague, cashed in the $25,000 High Roller at the PCA and then scored his biggest live cash ever here in Deauville. The €1,000 FPS Main Event attracted a massive 1,355 runners, Luca was chip leader when 22 players returned on the final day and ended up finishing fourth for €68,500. He followed that up with a 49th place finish in the EPT Main Event and today he's going for the trifecta as he's well placed in the €10,000 High Roller heading into Day 2.

He needed a second bullet but with 244,300 he started third in chips today with only Jonathan Little (283,100) and Eric Sfez (315,300) ahead of him at start of play. Alex Goulder, who was at the same table as Luca last night, said that he'd never seen anything like what happened during the last two levels of the day and said that Luca had won the vast majority of pots in the final two levels of the day. It was a table that contained David Vamplew and Dominik Nitsche and before play started they said: "We've played with him before, that's just how he plays."

When play started Luca had not yet arrived so we couldn't yet take a front row seat to watch his aggressive style of play. A couple of hands in he arrived and whilst still stacking his chips he got involved in his first pot of the day. With blinds at 1,000/2,000 ante 300 he opened to 4,200 and was called by both Andrey Andreev and Radoslaw Morawiec. The flop was an interesting J♣Q♠A♠, Luca threw out a continuation bet only to be faced with a big check-raise from Morawiec. The Argentinian starred at the board intently before folding his hand.

They'd been playing six-handed at this point but as the next hand was being dealt Roman Korenev and Davidi Kitai joined the table. If Luca's reputation for playing a lot of hands was true then he now had some stiff competition in the shape of Kitai. Whilst the first orbit of eight-handed play would feature aggressive play neither Kitai or Luca would be involved. The role of chief aggressor would instead fall to Team Pro Online's Vicente Delgado.

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Delgado - came out firing early on

After Andrey Andreev limped for the second hand in a row, Korenev raised it up to 6,000 only for Delgado to re-raise to 17,000 from the small blind, Andreev was quickly gone but Korenev clearly smelled something. But, with a stack of just 25 big blinds decided to fold his hand.

On the very next hand Maxim Panyak opened to 4,000 from under-the-gun, next to act Morawiec three-bet to 9,500 and action was now on Delgado in the next seat. He peeled some chips from his stack of around 150,000 and slid out a four-bet of 22,500. When it folded back round only Morawiec called. The 9♣5♣3♥ flop was checked through and the 2♥ hit the turn. First to act Morawiec bet small, just 9,500 and Delgado smooth called. On the 8♣ river Morawiec checked, Delgado bet around 45,000 and Morawiec's cards were swiftly in the muck.

Three more hands passed without any involvement from Luca, the Argentinian is keeping his powder dry for now.

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Ivan Luca relaxing at the tables

Coverage from the Main Event of EPT Deauville is on the Main Event page. Check out all the action from around the festival on the main festival page. Also follow the action on EPT Live and stay up to date with the sensational EPT app for iPhone, iPad or Android.

Nick Wright
@PokerStars in European Poker Tour