EPT12 Malta: A Mexican stare off

I've just witnessed something that in all my years of reporting for the PokerStars Blog I'd never seen before. Never before had I seen the clock called on the flop because the pre-flop caller (not the aggressor) had taken too long to act. More specifically when that player was first to act so therefore facing no previous action on that street.

The player in question was Ferdinand Le Pichon and he'd got involved in a Mexican stare off with Mike McDonald - not for the faint hearted - but we need to rewind to the start of the hand to understand how they reached this point.

It was, in all honesty, quite a standard hand. Le Pichon raised to 26,000 from middle position, McDonald three-bet to 65,000 on the button, from a stack of about 410,000, and when it folded back to Le Pichon he got a count of the bet and then called. The Frenchman started the hand with around 380,000 total.

The flop fell A♥6♣4♥ and this is where the fun and games started. The Frenchman was in seat five and McDonald seat eight. Le Pichon's eyes were hidden behind mirrored sunglasses so whilst we can't say with 100% certainty that he was staring at McDonald his body position suggested this was the case. To anyone who's ever watched the EPT coverage it should come as no surprise that McDonald's eyes were fixed on Le Pichon, trademark stare in full effect.

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The famous McDonald stare...

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...and the Le Pichon version

Neither had looked at the board and it seemed it was now a case of who would blink first. They stared, they stared some more and they kept staring, this was deadlock. Something had to give, or rather someone, as the clock was called. We didn't see which player performed this action, but the floor was called and she informed Le Pichon he had a minute to act.

This seemed to stir Le Pichon into action as he checked and reasonably swiftly McDonald bet 45,000 and after about 10 seconds Le Pichon made the call. The 5♠ hit the turn and this time Le Pichon was far quicker to act and again he checked the action over to McDonald who again bet, this time 90,000. It didn't take very long for Le Pichon to check-raise all in and the decision was now on McDonald.

"That was a very fast all-in," he said. Before adding, "I'm pretty sure I'm going to call this though." A few more seconds passed and then the Canadian announced call.

McDonald: A♠K♥
Le Pichon: 5♣4♣

The Frenchman had hit two pair on the turn to take the lead over McDonald who had top pair, top kicker. The 8♦ river card gave Le Pichon the pot and left McDonald with just 32,000.

At this point there were 29 players left and the next pay jump was at 27th spot, an increase from €15,620 to €17,840. Having just been the button McDonald was in no great danger of having his stack swallowed by the blinds and folded two hands before taking a stand. Given the ante was 2,000 he was now left with 26,000 and elected not to move all-in, instead raising to 25,000. Nabil Abdien was sitting in the one seat so perhaps can be forgiven for not knowing exactly how many chips McDonald had. He peered round the dealer and asked McDonald how much he was playing. "Quite a bit," quipped McDonald who's solitary remaining 1K chip was being utilised as a card protector.

After taking this in Abdien raised to 60,000 and everyone else folded to leave the pot heads-up. First to show was McDonald, he opened J♥8♥ and was behind to Abdien's 8♣8♦. His live card would prove crucial though as the 7♦9♦K♦K♣9♥ board meant Abdien's pair was counterfeited.

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Abdien's pair was counterfeited

That got McDonald up to 84,000 - seven big blinds - and he wouldn't play another hand until he was in the big blind. Again Abdien was the opponent, raising to 26,000 from under-the-gun, it folded to McDonald and curiously he just called. On the 4♦8♣7♠ flop McDonald thought for a short time and then moved all-in and Abdien snap called.

McDonald: K♠5♣
Abdien: K♥T♠

The EPT Malta €25,000 High Roller champion was in need of help but none was forthcoming on the K♣ turn or A♠ river. So the bad news for the last remaining EPT champion in this event was that he wouldn't win a second Main Event title here in Malta, the good news though was that he'd made that pay jump as Johnny Lodden (29th) and Mikko Turtiainen (28th) had busted during his stay of execution.

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McDonald - laddered up

Everything about EPT Malta is on the main EPT Malta page. More specifically, all the hand-by-hand coverage of the Main Event is on the Main Event page and everything from the side events is on the side events page.

No really, begin plotting your own bid for EPT glory by downloading the PokerStars client and having a crack. Follow this EPT event via the EPT app. There you will get all the latest news, chip counts and payouts. You can download it on Android or IOS


Nick Wright
@PokerStars in European Poker Tour