EPT11 Deauville: Vultures follow the scent of blood, but better off staying at home

Whenever the EPT charabanc rolls into town, the various spokes in the wheel start assessing the factors that will affect their particular lives the most. Daniel Negreanu, for instance, eyes up vegan eating options, James Hartigan (of admittedly weak bladder fame) looks for egress from commentary booth to bathroom facilities and ElkY sources a seamstress to carry out emergency sequin-sewing duties should the need arise.

For tournament floor-staff and reporters, however, one of the first points of interest is the distance between poker tables. Anyone who has ever spent some time dancing around the obstacles of a tournament room -- elbows and players rocking back on their chairs and drinks tables and detritus, etc. -- knows that their quality of life will be greatly affected by this simple matter of space management.

Here in Deauville this week, with a full complement of side events on the festival agenda, tables have been shunted together somewhat to make the most of the available room. Those of us who like to glide between tables, notebooks in hand or cameras on shoulders, exchanged knowing nods earlier in the week. "This will be fun come bubble time," we said.

So it proved during an extended period of bubble play at Casino Barriere this afternoon. The usual throngs that gather around tables when any pot of note plays out duly squeezed themselves into improbable gaps in a bid to...well, I don't know what they were hoping to achieve. It's just a poker tournament, after all. Anyway, these rabbles grew even more populous and agitated after Thomas Lamatsch, the tournament director, announced that we were five places off the money and asked his dealing staff to announce to the room every time a player was all in and called.

The corridors between tables, not even really big enough for one person to squeeze along, quickly grew to resemble the Tokyo underground during rush hour.


The bubble scrum at EPT Deauville

The wise move here was to skirt around the edges. If so, you'd have seen Ronan Montfort, of Team PokerStars Online, double up with pocket kings. He had shoved his short stack shortly before that too, but got no callers. (He confessed later that that was just a weak ace and he was praying not be be called.)


Ronan Montfort: Timely double up

One table along, Nicolau Villa-Lobos was sitting with one of the shortest stacks in the room but was barely seeing any hands. The reason was that at least two of his table-mates were in that mood particular to pre-bubble time: looking at the backs of their cards for about a minute, then grudgingly looking at the front of them for another minute, then eventually throwing them away.

"I can understand why they tank," Villa-Lobos said. "And it's OK for me."

Eventually Lamatsch had had enough of all the slow play and said they were going hand-for-hand. That meant there was no sense in slowing things down any more, but it also encouraged the wanderers.

During one hand in particular, which ended with the elimination of Luciano Santos De Hollanda, a crowd of at least 25 surrounded the table. A visibly confused member of the janitorial staff was mesmerised by the kerfuffle and ambled over to join in, black bin-bag in hand. She had to be hauled out of the throng -- and I promise I'm not making this up -- by her colleague, who grabbed her by the arm and heaved her away. She will have a wonderful story of a heroic rescue from the clutches of a baying mob.


All in on the bubble at EPT Deauville

Santos De Hollanda's elimination took them on to the stone bubble, and the flock of vultures continued following the scent of blood. Again, sticking to the outside, it was possible to watch a hand play out between Alex Tikhoniouk, last night's leader, and Omar Dahmani.

Both players had about 300,000 chips when Dahmani opened to 12,000 from under the gun. Tikhoniouk called from the big blind, and the two of them went to a flop of 7♦7♥K♥. Tikhoniouk checked and Dahmani bet 20,000. Tikhoniouk called.


Alex Tikhoniouk: Leader runs into quads

The turn was the Q♣ and Tikhoniouk led for 28,000. Dahmani called. The river was Q♠ and Tikhoniouk checked. Dahmani bet 58,000 and Tikhoniouk called. Dahmani rolled over 7♣7♠ for flopped quads and took a huge chunk from the Irishman.

Over the other side of the room, Georgios Kapalas was in a great mood. "I want to do another interview tomorrow," he said, remembering that when PokerStars Blog caught up with him during the previous break, he had 230,000 chips. He was then sitting with more than 900,000 and soon pushed through the million mark too. We aim to please.

As the tournament clock clicked down towards the end of the level, the smart spectators had decided to end the wandering with the crowds and decamp to the press room to watch the TV. And as it turned out, that became a very wise decision indeed.

Jannick Wrang, one of the handful of former winners still in the field, was sitting on the feature table, alongside ElkY et al. Wrang had dwindled to a short stack when action was folded to him on the button and he pushed forward the three towers of chips he still had in his possession.


Crowds to the feature table, please!

It seemed to be an all-in move, and David Jaoui, in the small blind, certainly thought so too as he elected to call. But it soon transpired that Wrang still had a few chips covering his cards and had not actually said, "All in". So it was actually taken as just a raise.

Nevertheless, and before Lamatsch could get to the TV table to oversee the action, Jaoui bet in the dark and Wrang called in the dark, essentially putting them all in before the flop. When the kerfuffle had died down and the dealer could go through the motions, she put down 5♥[10h]4♠ and Jaoui said, "Sorry." He had [10c][10d] and had flopped a set, way ahead of Wrang's A♦9♥.

Wrang picked up a wheel draw with the 3♦ turn, but the A♠ completed the board and that was the end of the road for Wrang.


Jannick Wrang: Number is up

That put the remaining 87 players at EPT Deauville into the money, and, we hope, taught everybody a lesson about the futility of jostling through the tournament room in the hope of catching a bust out. Just watch it on EPT Live.

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