With the elimination of Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier at the end of day four, our final table of eight players for EPT Deauville was set. The Romanian Teodor Caraba leads, but there are two other major talking points from the final line-up: can the Team PokerStars Pro Peter Eastgate add EPT glory to his World Championship. Or can the young Canadian Mike “Timex” McDonald become the first ever two-time EPT champion?
Play is scheduled to begin at noon on Monday to determine the answers. Prizewinners to date are on the prizewinners page; chip counts, updated throughout the final, are on the chip counts page and follow PokerStars Blog for a blow-by-blow account of the action.
These are the contenders:
Seat 1 – Claudiu Secara, 35, Romania – 795,000 chips
Romanian players have made a big impression at this tournament, a sign of the country’s growing presence in international poker. Claudiu Secara is one of two on the final table, while a third, Robert Cezarescu, was knocked out in 13th place. Secara has played a number of EPT events and made it to day two of the Grand Final last year. His best result so far, however, was 12th place in Prague in December, where he won €31,400. Poker is not a full-time occupation for Secara – by day he’s the general manager of a timber company. “He’s not surprised to get this far,” said his wife Csila. “He’s a good player and he’s worked hard for this. He hopes to go even further.”
Seat 2 – Jake “neverbluff67” Cody, 21, UK – 4,650,000
Jake Cody is a former psychology student who is making his debut on the European Poker Tour in Deauville this week. Cody mainly plays online, where he has a string of good results, including a recent second-place finish in a $1,500 event, earning $198,000. Cody played numerous side events at this year’s PCA and also took part in the first PokerStars Italian Poker Tour event, which was won by his friend, Matt Perrins. Cody also cashed at the recent PokerStars UK and Ireland Poker Tour event in Galway.
Seat 3 – Michael “Fratton” Fratty, 34, France – 1,595,000
Michael Fratty qualified for the Main Event in a €250 satellite at Casino Barrière. He is an optician by day but has been a recreational poker player for the past 20 years, preferring these days to play Omaha online. He has won two $55 buy-in events on PokerStars and his best live result was second place in a €500 buy in hold ’em event in Paris. He has staged a remarkable comeback to make the final table here – at one point he was down to three big blinds. If he wins, he said that he will “buy a big flat and stop playing poker!” His wife is supporting him at home, where she is caring for the couple’s two children.
Seat 4 – Teodor Caraba – 21, Romania – PokerStars qualifier – 6,915,000
The dominant chip leader, and assassin of Betrand “ElkY” Grospellier when play was nine-handed, Teodor Caraba has been playing poker since childhood but seriously for around 18 months. He mainly plays online but also visits local casino where he plays in cash games. This is his first EPT event. “I know I’m good and the field was really weak to start with,” he said. “I’m satisfied with what I’ve done so far – now I just hope I win.” He won his seat in a $530 satellite on PokerStars.
Seat 5 – Peter Eastgate, 24, Denmark, Team PokerStars Pro – 695,000
Peter Eastgate bludgeoned his way into the poker consciousness in the most dramatic fashion possible, scoring his first major success at the 2008 World Series Main Event. He became (at the time) the youngest ever champion by outlasting the inaugural November Nine, winning $9 million and the platinum bracelet. It was no fluke. Eastgate cashed in the Main Event at the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure the following January and then took down a $5,000 side event. He followed that by finishing second at the Main Event of EPT London in October last year, winning close to $850,000. This is his second EPT final table and his fifth in-the-money finish – and he’s only 24-years-old.
Seat 6 – Craig Bergeron, 20, USA – PokerStars qualifier – 3,135,000
Craig Bergeron held the chip lead for much of day three and goes to the final table in fourth place. Bergeron is an extremely well-known mid-stakes multi-table tournament and sit and go online player. His best result so far was sixth place in the PokerStars Sunday Million last March, where he won $40,000. He also came second in another online event in November for a further $40,000. In live events, Bergeron’s best result was winning the €2,000 side event at EPT Dortmund last year.
Seat 7 – Stephane Albertini, 28, Corsica, 3,555,000
Stephane Albertini has been playing poker for 12 years or so, mainly in casinos and almost always cash rather than tournaments. He often comes along to EPT event but usually to play in the high stakes cash games that are are running at the same time as the tournaments. He has played in around six EPT main events but has never cashed – until now. His best live tournament results have been in Marrakech in Morocco, where he has cashed for sums around the €20,000 mark.
Seat 9 – Mike “Timex” McDonald, 20, Canada – PokerStars qualifier – 1,815,000
In 2008, when he was 18 years old, Mike “Timex” McDonald became the youngest ever champion of an EPT Main Event, earning $1.4m as he won in Dortmund and also became the first Canadian champion on the European Poker Tour. In Deauville today, McDonald now stands a chance of becoming the first two-time champion in the tour’s six-season history, on what will be his third EPT final table. A regular on the internet poker discussion forums, and a feared presence at the online tables, “Timex” has numerous five-figure successes in the major tournaments and more than $2 million in live winnings. He now divides his time almost 50-50 between the online and live game – and has recently found a new hunger. “I’ve felt a lot more motived by poker in the last six to eight months,” he said. “I wasn’t really feeling that motivated before.” Be warned.