EPT8 Campione: Passionate Hallaert a sucker for the game

ept-thumb-promo.jpgKenny Hallaert is fast becoming a regular face on the EPT, both on and off the tables. The 30-year old sits fourth on the Belgian all-time money list with $704,409, behind Kevin Vandersmissen, Team PokerStars Pro Pierre Neuville and Davidi Kitai (3rd to 1st on the podium respectively), which is no little achievement given that he splits his time between playing and tournament directing. The Belgian, who final tabled EPT Deauville last year and won two side events at EPT Loutraki, has come to prominence in an unexpected manner over the last couple of weeks: he finished runner-up in a $1 rebuy.

Okay, now let that soak in. He finished second in a $1 rebuy.

Now, that really shouldn't cause any waves, not in a normal day to day grind kind of way, but this $1 rebuy also happened to be the second event of the MicroMillions series which picked up 44,741 entrants, 175,277 rebuys and 18,945 add-ons to build a prize pool of $217,456. Hallaert, playing under the name SpaceyFCB, collected $12,562.45 for his second place finish, a final table finish which came just hours after getting knocked out of EPT Madrid.

"I busted the main event and was planning to play a side event but still had a couple of hours left so went back to my room. I played some sit-and-gos just to pass the time when I saw some tweets about the MicroMillions starting, so I thought, 'Okay, are there any I can play? Perhaps a turbo?' It just happened that there was a $1 rebuy turbo going on. I didn't register right away as I still wanted to play the €200 event."

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Kenny 'SpaceyFCB' Hallaert

Hallaert did some calculations (he is a tournament director after all) and thought again. With five minutes of the 90-minute late registration left, he jumped in.

"I'll almost always be bust by the time the side event starts as they'd only be around 2% of the field left but for some weird reason I was winning every pot. Instead of playing the side event I was going deep," said Hallaert with a shrug.

After just one initial rebuy and the near compulsory add-on the Belgian found himself invested in MicroMillions Event #2 for around $3, a far cry from the €5,000 event he'd been playing earlier that day. In that big boy event Hallaert had run K♦Q♦ into Nicolas Levi's A♠Q♣ to bust out in 49th for €9,000 and failed to find the 30% suck out he needed to stay alive.

Although it must be great to collect $12,562.45 for a $3 outlay, did Hallaert find it frustrating to run good in the $3 event rather than the €5,000 one?

"Obviously on average you will run better in a $1 tournament because the average level of experience is lower. You'll see more mistakes being made. But, yes, you still think why can't I accumulate a hundred million chips in the Sunday Million! In 2008, a week after the PCA I had an incredible run winning an $8 rebuy, $10 freezeout and a $50 freezeout and thought 'Goddamn it, why can't I put all these winning coin flips into a Sunday?' Then I won the Sunday Warm Up the next weekend, so I can't complain."

Hallaert, who worked the floor at EPT London and will be doing so again at EPT Berlin, might surprise some with what he said next.

"The honour of coming second (in the MicroMillions) was bigger than the honour of coming 49th in the EPT. Even if I came 25th in Madrid for a bigger pay day I think I would have been more happy with my result in the MicroMillions. It's not easy to go deep in an EPT, but it's not easy to come second in a MicroMillions, even if it looks easier because you just keep clicking the all-in button!

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Hallaert next to James Sudworth as the bubble approaches at EPT Madrid

"It's about the passion for the game for me. It doesn't matter whether I'm playing a $1 rebuy or a €5,000 EPT main event, I always want to try my best and get a good result. Of course, I'm not saying that at the beginning of a tournament that I won't make a looser call (in a smaller tournament) but it's still about the pleasure of the game. "

Tournament snapshot
Level 4: blinds 100-200, ante 25
Players: 360 of 391
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Rick Dacey
@PokerStars in Campione