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Home / Uncategorized / EPT Kyiv: Watching the fun table

Some years ago there was a peanut commercial featuring a man in a halted train carriage, all dark and dreary, with a handful of monochrome people seated around him, oblivious to what looked like a bleak future. The man is resigned to his fate until he sees another train, also stopped, this one in full colour and with a party taking place with beautiful women, martinis, you name it – all out of the reach of the man now desperate to switch trains. It was an homage to Frederico Fellini’s 8 ½. The film was a masterpiece. I don’t know how many peanuts were sold.

Right now those two carriages could be poker tables. On the fun table would be Shaun Deeb, while living a less vibrant existence on the table alongside would Team PokerStars Pro Katja Thater.

Deeb is enjoying himself with company. Listening to Deeb talk shop with Andrew Malott (dressed as a Phoenix Sun) and Carter Phillips is like listening to a police scanner or overhearing kids talk batting averages or the 0-60mph capabilities of Lamborghinis and Porches. Enthusiastic gibberish to all but the informed. Actually, it’s probably more akin to being under local anaesthetic as your doctors discuss how best to remove something you’ve had since you were born – the chit chat of great knowledge and talent – three Americans enjoying a motor-mouth hour 4,500 miles from home.


Shaun Deeb

Phillips had been talking about burnout while Deeb confessed to never resting, instead finding it difficult to understand how a poker player, any poker player, could resist even a few hands.

“Every day I miss poker,” he said. “is a day the games get harder.”

This was his explanation to Phillips as to why he had the urge to log-in and play a $1K tourney when he woke at 5am this morning, seven hours before he arrived here. Deeb inhabits a different poker world, and not just one of pyjamas and never going out. Phillips knew that. Malott knew that and I dare say the others at the table would know that had they spoken English.

Deeb may be a grand master of poker but despite his overwhelming success he dresses like a man wearing everything he owns – a baseball cap, t-shirt, casual shorts and tatty flip-flops – just the bare essentials for a comfortable day ruining the day of others.

Meanwhile on the Thater table it’s a showcase for every set of headphones and pair of sunglasses ever made, like a window display at Bloomingdales. It’s quiet here, introspective. The only movement, beyond the flick of a chip, is from the tall thin guy in seat five who bounces his leg up and down at 80 beats a minute. No one speaks but this table does feature equal measure of talent to the peanut table next door.


Katja Thater

As well as Thater there’s John Kabbaj, a recent World Series bracelet winner; Tristan Clemencon who came third at EPT Deauville last season, and Team PokerStars Ukraine’s Vlad Zguba. And while they may be a little of the quiet side at least they can conjure up a big pot.

When Elio Fox, who looks a little cat like, made it 600 pre-flop from the button he found callers in all of the above. With 1086 on the board Thater checked form the big blind as did Kabbaj. Zguba meanwhile made it another 1,000 which everyone but Thater called.


Vlad Zguba (without the Elvis sunglasses)

With a K on the turn Kabbaj checked, allowing Zguba to make it 2,000. Fox and Kabbaj eventually called for a river card 8. Kabbaj checked again giving the option to Zguba who still hadn’t changed his expression from that of stoic local in Elvis sunglasses. He checked before Fox threw out 8,500.

Kabbaj, still deep in a massage to have earlier pain removed from his shoulders, called to keep an interest in what’s now a huge pot. Vlad did the same, with less of the stress. He showed pocket aces to Kabbaj’s ace-king. Fox mucked before seeing either hand. Zguba took the lot. Fox had nothing left to do than to look longingly at Zguba, but he got nothing back. Zguba now has 54,000.

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A packet of peanuts from the lobby shop: 5 Hryvnia

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