EPT11 Malta: Place your bets on the battling De Meulders

The Italian Poker Tour Main Event is down to its final 380 players. Ha! Its "final" 380. This is a monster and even though the field is still bigger than most tournament held around the world on a regular basis, it means that 900 people have already gone broke.

That's what happens when close to 1,300 people play: you make the final 380 and it feels like you should should have won something. But, as each and every one of those final 380 players are very well aware, nobody has actually won anything yet. All that is certain is that that 900 have lost.


Many, many tables

This feeling extends beyond the boundaries of the tournament itself and also applies to the various sub-plots playing out in the room. Among them is a last longer bet between three of the Red Spades from Belgium: the Team PokerStars Pros Christophe and Matthias de Meulder and their friend Gaelle Garcia Diaz.

In a bid to generate some additional interest in the event among followers of the PokerStars Belgium Facebook page, the De Meulder brothers and Diaz arranged a contest that pitted friend against friend against friend. Followers were asked to vote (by means of a "Like") for who they thought would last the longest in the tournament, and then all the people who "Liked" the winner would be put into a prize draw to win a Sunday Storm ticket.

By the end of yesterday, Diaz was already out, meaning her supporters were already disappointed. But both De Meulders were still in - Matti with 18,800 and Christophe with 61,600.


Christophe de Meulder: Leading at the start of the day. Not any more

Diaz had actually attracted the fewest likes -- she is not a professional player, so won't have been insulted -- but, as Matthias de Meulder pointed out this morning, it was probably the value bet for a follower to "like" the player who was trailing in the contest. That way, should that person last the longest, the chances of winning the prize draw element were highest.

"Yeah, but there's a reason she's got the least votes," Christophe said, not unreasonably.

The brothers were also pondering introducing some other incentive to the contest, something like a forfeit or a penalty for the first player out -- a particularly harsh punishment given that the identity of this person (Diaz) had already been established and was not present during the discussions of what it could be.

The two De Meulders are like this: they can be conspiratorial when you get them together (just ask any of the poor Belgian celebrities they used to gang up on during their pre-pubescent television pranking career) but also competitive between the two of them. As I was first talking to Matthias this morning, Chris strolled up, took Matthias's fruit salad from his distracted sibling's hand, and started munching through it.

"Hey, why are you eating my food?" Matthias said.
"Share and care," Christophe shot back.

Christophe had been in particularly bullish mood. He had the biggest stack and seemed to be well set to take down this personal contest, as well as edge into the money. But within the first couple of levels, Matthias had tripled up and Christophe turned to Facebook to moan rather than boast:

"Last longer update: 1st break: Matti should have been out 7 times but instead has 102k, I'm rolling with 62k. Have some catching up to do..." he said.


Matthias de Meulder: Taking control of the last-longer

Keep tabs on both of the De Meulders via Twitter (Matthias is @mattionfire; Christophe is @Crispokers) or Facebook (here's Chris and here's Matti). And we're covering the IPT Main Event on PokerStars Blog.

Follow all the action from the EPT Malta festival at PokerStars Blog. We have hand-by-hand action from the €25,000 High Roller in the panel at the top of the €25,000 High Roller page. Feature pieces are below. We also have a man on the IPT Malta stop. You must also download the EPT App, available on both Android or IOS, because endangered species die if you don't.

Howard Swains
@howardswains in European Poker Tour