WSOP 2016: From Monaco media event to the big time, the rise of Victor Saumont
Things are not progressing as they usually do for Victor Saumont this week. In fact a lot of his world has been turned entirely on its head.
Saumont is no stranger to major poker tournaments and he's no stranger to the World Series in particular. He once spent a whole summer here hanging out with the best poker players in France.
But under normal circumstances at about this stage, Saumont is skittering between tables, notebook in hand, charting the progress of the participants for readers of the French version of PokerStars Blog. On the occasions he's not doing that, he's directing superlative documentary films about French players at the WSOP.
Basically, he's doing anything except playing the event himself.
But this year is different. At time of writing, we are in the mid-point of Day 4 of the $10,000 Main Event and Victor Saumont is sitting with 1.5 million in chips. His chips. Saumont won a satellite to play the Main Event on the eve of the tournament, and right now he has double the average stack of the 435 players left. Saumont has the very real chance of outdoing even the subjects of Nosebleed. (Seb Sabic skipped tournaments in Vegas this year; Alex Luneau was eliminated on Day 1 of the Main Event and still seeks his first bracelet.)
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Before coming to Vegas this summer, Saumont's tournament record was modest. It's fair to say that anyone whose second-biggest career cash is third place in an EPT media tournament is not quite threatening the Negreanus, the Holzes or the Seidels of this world.
But on arriving to Vegas, Saumont played a $570 tournament at the Golden Nugget and won $10,488 for 11th (at that point 67 times as much as his best previous result). With a chunk of that, he entered the live satellite to play the big one, and now here he is. He is already guaranteed at least $25,235 and has every chance of adding a zero to that.
On Day 1, Saumont found himself on the television table, playing alongside Martin Jacobson, among others. The cameras weren't on at the time, but he still needed to outwit a former World Champion.
On Day 3, it was even tougher. Saumont found himself on the same table as the monstrous stack of Shaun Deeb and his tournament life hung by a thread. Saumont lost with kings to aces, which cut his stack to shreds, and about 20 minutes later found kings again.
Opponent 1 opened, Opponent 2 three bet and Saumont four-bet with the second best hand in hold'em. And then Deeb cold five bet, covering all of them. "I had a really tight reputation," Saumont said, relating the hand this morning. It's how he found the fold and was shown aces by Deeb.
Galvanised by proof that his judgment was sound, Saumont returned today with 235,000 in chips. Then he went on one of those upswings that can happen in tournaments like this and can reward players for their skills at sticking around.
He now has Max Silver and Jonathan Karamalakis at his table, both with stacks of around 1 million. He has written about this world for long enough but is now clearly enjoying a spell on the other side of the notebook.
WSOP photos by PokerPhotoArchive.com.