EPT11 Deauville: The thrill of the game with David van den Berg, 'trembling like a maniac'

When you're playing your first ever event on the European Poker Tour, you set yourself a few goals. You want to have fun, you want not to disgrace yourself and, if things go well, you might fancy your chances of sneaking into the money.

David van den Berg, who won a satellite here at Casino Barriere to enter the €5,000 Main Event, his first ever on the tour, says that his expectations have been realistic throughout the week -- roughly equating to the three points outlined above.

However, after a sensational hand during the first level of Day 4, during which he knocked out both Ruben Visser and Lucas Monnier, Van den Berg is the tournament chip leader with 26 players remaining and looking at soaring way higher than he could possibly have hoped.

"I'm having so much fun here," Van den Berg said, having only just calmed down after an extraordinary coup. "When the ace came on the flop, it was amazing. It's just a totally crazy adrenalin pumping. I was like, 'This isn't happening.' But it was. I was just trembling like a maniac for ten minutes or something. It was amazing."

That, right there, is why people play on the European Poker Tour. Doubters should just take a look at this 39-year-old from Laren, in The Netherlands.


David van den Berg: First time on the tour

To rewind slightly for context, Van den Berg, a purely recreational player used to competing for a couple of hundred euros, came to Deauville with his wife and a friend and entered a €550 live satellite. He took a €500 add on, and successfully took his seat in the Main Event for a €1,050 outlay. Van den Berg then finished Day 1 with 72,000 chips, Day 2 with 90,600 and then navigated his way into the money.

After that, he started today with 426,000 and said he was prepared to take whatever prize money he had already locked up. But then came that hand.

Monnier got the action started, moving all in for 86,000 from under the gun. Milan Rabsz called from the hijack, which persuaded Van den Berg, sitting with A♦J♣ to call from the button too. That might have taken them to a flop, but Visser, in the big blind, also now moved all in, for 246,000.

And they weren't done. Rabsz called Visser's shove, putting the decision with Van den Berg, and he weighed up his options. Just as he was thinking what to do, however, Monnier, who thought the action was over, revealed his hand. Although he quickly turned it over again, his 8♦8♥ had to stay exposed, which gave Van den Berg some additional information.

"I put Ruben on a high pair, and the other guy (Monnier) already showed the pair of eights, so that was lucky," Van den Berg said. "I had two over-cards and I thought, 'OK, he (Rabsz) bet 250 or something' and I figured, 'OK, if I push all in, maybe he folds'. I thought he had maybe ace-king or something. I pushed him all in and he folded."

That part of the plan went swimmingly for Van den Berg, but Visser quickly tabled K♣K♥ and had a stranglehold on the hand.

That said, Van den Berg's ace was live, and the flop of [10h]4♣A♥ was enormous. "It was a bad beat for him," Van den Berg said. "Before, he had jacks and aces and lost them both. It was very unlucky for him."


David van den Berg, left, eliminates Ruben Visser and Lucas Monnier, both standing, on one hand

Visser spoke about the hand later, when he dropped by the press room. He ran the percentages through a hand-range app on his phone, and said that assuming Van den Berg hoped his shove could fold out better aces in Rabsz's hand (exactly what Van den Berg had claimed) his play was fine. Even if he put Visser on exactly the hand he had, Van den Berg's shove had merit.

"I don't think the other guy (Rabsz) is supposed to fold very often, but it's actually an all right play," Visser said.


Ruben Visser: Pairs beaten all day

Van den Berg said he had never played with Visser before, with the two occupying different ends of the poker ladder in their native Netherlands. "I'm totally recreational, and he's a big pro," Van den Berg said. "I didn't know him, but I've seen him on TV and stuff."

But now it's Van den Berg still featuring in front of the EPT Live cameras, looking at heading deep into the money. Visser, meanwhile, is in the commentary booth.

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.

Howard Swains
@howardswains in European Poker Tour