The best player at the outer tables right now is undoubtedly James Mitchell, who towers the others as one of the chip leaders.
He’s one of a strong British contingent in Deauville who have begun to dominate these later stages, with Sam Grafton on the TV table on course for a first EPT final table.
While Sam Grafton is personable, cocky, confident, quirky, with a baseball cap pushed back over his head so that it points upwards, wearing bright clothes and old fashioned over-sized 1980s spectacles, Mitchell is the opposite.
Mitchell prefers a simply woollen jumper, and not to shave. When I spoke to him last night he seemed to prefer answering in a way that was as non-committal as possible, as if others might be listening who might then take whatever he’d said and use it against him. If they were listening he didn’t give them much to go on.
I asked him about yesterday. He’d made a hash of the first two levels, he’d said, losing every pot he played, including one in which he folded pocket kings against queens and ace-king, which would have earned his a sizeable pot. But he had a solution, and it was simple.
“I decided to start winning pots instead of losing them.”
“Less folding? Less folding really,” he said. “If someone bet the flop I’d fold, so I stopped doing that.”
There was also the matter of the TV table.
“It’s a bit annoying,” said Mitchell, who spent a whole day under the lights yesterday (and several hours this afternoon). “The action’s slower. I think people play a bit tighter, because they don’t want to embarrass themselves on TV. I’d rather not be on the TV table.”
But any distress had been hidden well. Mitchell, seated to the left of arguably the two best players, made the most of his advantage, finishing yesterday with 983,000. Today that figure is up to nearly 1.3 million.
Stephen Bartley is a PokerStars Blog reporter