EPT8 Berlin: French speaking pros at it again in memorable season


Robbie Thompson is calling the shots on the feature table, the best in the business at creating atmosphere and getting the audience excited about things, from double ups to cards thrown into the muck. Sadly, things aren't going quite so easily here.

"It's like pulling teeth," said Thompson grinning. "He just pushed a four million pot, I couldn't even get a..." at which point Thompson made a slow clap gesture.

He's right. Welcome to Europe Robbie. It's deadly silent in the tournament room, even with the main event down to four players, each of whom are backed by friends in the crowd.

That said there have been exceptions this year. While some events are silent unwatched affairs featuring the girlfriends and loved ones of that guy who finished fifth, and that cleaner sneaking a few minutes off to watch, others have been raucous affairs. All it takes it a Frenchman at the final.

Or should I say a French speaker.

Looking back over the season the Francophones have, well, maybe not dominated with title wins, but have reached final table after final table, enough to get a crowd riled up with Gallic fervor. Nicolas Levi in Prague, Kerignard in Deauville, Levi again in Madrid (with Boujenah) and Soulier in Campione. Now it's Kitai in Berlin.

Davidi Kitai

It's now not unusual to see Ilan Boujenah, or one of the French pros gleefully high-fiving the French finalist, or cheering something that causes the others to laugh; their camaraderie unflinching.

Boujenah, who was himself the target of this support back in Madrid, where he finished sixth is here again today, although the fact that he's on his own railing the Belgian Davidi Kitai may explain the lack of vocal support, although that may change later. What did he put this flourish of results down to?

"The whole crew is running so hot in the last year," said Boujenah. "Psychologically, when you've got some friends who make deep runs and good performance, it make you confident that your game is good.

Ilan Boujenah

"We have a crew of like ten players that we have a huge Skype chat, spending all the tie together, playing sessions together. And any time you see your friend make a final you want to make another one. We're just so motivated.

The French speakers (Boujenah is from Israel), are not the first group to have a standout year, as he pointed out.

"We're a little bit like the English crew were last year," he said, referring to the likes of Jake Cody, Toby Lewis and David Vamplew. "They were just crushing everything. I just feel like it's been this all year. Vegas is going to be amazing!"

Turning to the feature table, where Davidi Kitai was chip leader, Boujenah was in no doubt about the talents of his friend, who he's certain will go all the way.

"The point is that Davidi is the oldest of us, he's 31, and has a lot of experience and is a wonderful player. I feel like now he has the serenity and experience. He cannot make second place, he's just going to win. He's ten times more mature than us. He's just going to win this one, this is his shot, and it's one fo the toughest EPTs of the year."

All true. But as far as Robbie Thompson is concerned, it would be nice if he'd shout about it a little more.

Stephen Bartley
@StephenBartley in Berlin