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2010 EPT Grand Final In Monte Carlo

Nicolas Chouity Wins Main Event

by Julio Rodriguez |  Published: Jul 01, 2010


Volcanic ash be damned, there was no way that the PokerStars European Poker Tour wouldn’t wrap up a sixth season with its annual event in glamorous Monte Carlo, the €10,000 Grand Final.

Sami KelopuroA total of 848 players participated in the main event, which was only a small drop-off from the 935 in the 2009 event, won by Pieter de Korver. That attendance was more than impressive, considering the chaotic travel conditions created after a volcano erupted in Iceland, making it near impossible for many to make it in time for the tournament.

Nonetheless, the tournament proceeded as planned, and for six days, some of the best players in the world clashed in an effort to take down the €1.7 million first-place prize. Notable in-the-money finishes came from Chris Bjorin (112th), Sander Lylloff (100th), Matt Kay (92nd), Kevin MacPhee (84th), Neil Channing (74th), Chris Moneymaker (69th), Davidi Kitai (66th), Mel Judah (56th), Alexandre Gomes (33rd), Lex Veldhuis (31st), Vicky Coren (26th), Nick Schulman (18th), and Sami Kelopuro (12th). Even some of the celebrities in attendance made deep finishes, including footballer Teddy Sheringham (103rd) and French rapper Bruno “Kool Shen” Lopes (42nd).

Chris MoneymakerWhen the field had whittled itself down to the final eight players, the EPT had truly produced an internationally friendly final table that featured players from Lebanon, Canada, Austria, Lithuania, Belarus, and nearby France. The chip leader entering the final day was Supernova online qualifier Nicolas “niccc” Chouity, who had more than 40 percent of the chips in play, leaving the other seven players somewhat short-stacked.

Despite the big chip discrepancy, the action did not begin with a flurry of eliminations. With a top-heavy payout structure, the subdued final table started off quietly, with few players willing to play back at the big-stacked behemoth that was Chouity. Many of the players opted to fold their way down past the push or fold point in chips, and one player was even content to sit for a round with just three big blinds.

Vicky CorenFinally, the second-largest stack at the table decided to play a pot with Chouity. Mesbah Guerfi checked a flop of 8Club Suit 4Spade Suit 3Spade Suit, as did Chouity. The turn was the 4Diamond Suit, and Guerfi bet 310,000. Chouity called, and the river was the KDiamond Suit. Guerfi then bet 785,000, effectively putting in half of his remaining stack. Chouity then announced that he was all in, and Guerfi called, showing A-K. Chouity then revealed slow-played pocket eights for a full house, and Guerfi was eliminated. Chouity had moved past the 14 million mark, nearly seven times his nearest competitor.

With all of that ammunition in front of him, Chouity had no problem mowing down others at the table. In quick succession, the Lebanese player took out Roger Hairabedian and Aleh Plauski, putting even more distance between himself and the rest of the field.

It wasn’t until Josef Klinger woke up with pocket kings to eliminate Andrew Chen that Chouity had anybody to worry about. Still holding a 3-1 chip lead on the field, Chouity then busted Herve Costa and went to the dinner break riding high on confidence.

When the final three players returned from the break, Chouity played his two opponents against each other perfectly, and used the pressure of the big pay jumps to continue to build his stack. He eliminated Dominykas Karmazinas in third place, and held more than a 5-1 chip lead going to heads-up play, as well as all of the momentum. To top it all off, Chouity had the rowdy support of his friends and family in attendance, while the elder Klinger fought to stay alive.

Sander LylloffThe final hand was as anticlimactic as it gets. Klinger shoved with pocket eights, and Chouity looked down to see pocket aces and made the easy call. The board came clean, and Chouity won the title. Although Chouity had two previous cashes in EPT events, the €1.7 million that he earned for winning was by far the largest payday of his career; not bad for a 23-year-old who qualified for the event in an online $22 rebuy tournament.

“It’s a dream come true,” he said. “There are very few words to describe how I feel after winning this title, but there’s a sense of relief, as well. After all of the hours of hard work, it’s great to see the payoff.”

Chouity was even more optimistic about what his win will do for poker in his home country of Lebanon. With only one casino in the entire country, the Lebanese poker community is very tightknit, and feels that the group of 30 Casino du Liban regulars will continue to make some noise. In fact, Dori Yacoub, another player from Beirut, finished third in the high-roller event the next night.

“Poker is definitely growing in Lebanon. Now that we have a champion of our own, I think a lot more players will try to get to these tournaments. You’ll be seeing a lot more online qualifiers, and hopefully, another champion or two.”

Here’s a look at the final-table results:

1 Nicolas Chouity €1,700,000
2 Josef Klinger €1,000,000
3 Dominykas Karmazinas €700,000
4 Herve Costa €500,000
5 Andrew Chen €400,000
6 Aleh Plauski €300,000
7 Roger Hairabedian €200,000
8 Mesbah Guerfi €140,000

Chouity Plays a Big Stack to Perfection

Chouity Plays a Big Stack to PerfectionGoing to the final table of a major tournament with a monster chip lead is great, but if you don’t know what to do with it, you might as well sit out and wait for a premium hand. Great players use their stack as ammo, and more importantly, they know how to handcuff the other greats at the table.

Nicolas Chouity had more than 40 percent of the chips in play at the eight-handed final table, and easily could have blinded himself down to a top-three finish. Instead, he steamrolled his opposition from start to finish, making his eventual victory a foregone conclusion. Here is his analysis:

“In the beginning, my main objective was not to allow Andrew Chen to pick up any chips,” Chouity said. “He was sitting to my left, and was probably the best player at the table, so it was very important that he didn’t get any momentum, especially in the beginning, when everyone was playing tight to move up the money ladder.

“I had a big stack, which was great, but it was crucial that I take Andrew out of the running early if I wanted to maintain that advantage. He had two very tight, very passive Frenchmen on his left who were folding almost every one of their blinds to him if I didn’t interfere. So, a lot of the time, I was opening when it was folded to me in the hijack or the cutoff, just so that I could take the play away from Andrew.

“I knew that he would eventually play back at me, to try to send the message that he wouldn’t be pushed around. Of course, once that happened, I wanted to let him know that I refused to let him run me over. Finally, I raised with A-9 on the button, and he defended his small blind. The flop came ace high, and he check-called a bet. The turn put three hearts on the board, and I checked behind. On the river, a fourth heart fell, and he fired a decent-sized bet. I called pretty quickly with my pair of aces, even though I didn’t have a heart, and he was bluffing. That hand left him pretty short, and he wasn’t able to play back at me anymore.

“We were three-handed after the dinner break, and I quickly realized that I could easily play them [Dominykas Karmazinas and Josef Klinger] against each other. Neither player wanted to bust out in third place, so I was able to raise pretty much every hand, knowing they would fold anything but strong aces and pocket pairs. If I got played back at, it was an easy fold. Other than that, it was easy for me to chip up big before heads-up play began. After that, it was easy, because he moved in and I woke up with aces. I couldn’t have asked for a better way for it to end.” Spade Suit

Tobias Reinkemeier Wins High-Roller Event

Those looking for action once their main-event runs came to an end were not disappointed by the variety of options that the 12-event EPT Grand Final series offered. While the focus stayed on no-limit hold’em, players were more than satisfied with the shorthanded, heads-up, and turbo variations available to them.

While the main event was being contested, the largest EPT high-roller event in history was taking place at the nearby tables with a field of 113 of the best players in the world.

Tobias ReinkemeierThe drama began far sooner than the final table commenced, as things got a little testy near the money bubble when Matthew Marafioti complained to tournament officials about the payout structure. Marafioti was upset that less than 10 percent of the field was being paid, and he petitioned for more than just the final eight players to walk away with some cash. After relentless pressure, the chip leaders finally gave in and agreed to alter the structure so that 11 players would make the money. Marafioti was eliminated in 12th place.

The trouble didn’t end there, however. When the field got down to the final-table bubble of nine players, Dori Yacoub raised to 38,000 and Luke “FullFlush” Schwartz then moved all in for just over 300,000 from the big blind. Yacoub tanked for a bit before making the call with the KClub Suit QClub Suit, setting Schwartz with his pocket tens into a frenzy. “What a donk call,” he said. “This is the most guaranteed paint ever.”

Sure enough, the board came KHeart Suit 9Spade Suit 2Club Suit 4Spade Suit 3Diamond Suit, and Schwartz was eliminated, but not before shoving all of his chips over, knocking them across the table without a care. The friendly banter at the table came to an awkward and abrupt halt as the players, dealer, and floorman quickly tried to sort out the mess that Schwartz had created. Despite the obvious lack of etiquette that he had just displayed, Schwartz continued to pace around the tournament area, muttering to himself and cursing in a tantrum. Yacoub didn’t mind, however, as he went to the final table as the chip leader.

When the final eight players returned the next day, it took only one hand to send someone to the rail. Michael Friedrich made his move with an ace, only to run into Allen Bari’s bigger ace. The board gave both players flushes, but Bari’s was higher, sending Friedrich to the rail.

Bari had some momentum, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the cooler that saw his big slick run into Tobias Reinkemeier’s pocket kings. The German then scored another elimination when his A-Q took out Sorel Mizzi’s A-8.

Dutch professional Paul Berende was the next to fall, courtesy of Olivier Busquet. Card Player 2010 Player of the Year front-runner Tom Marchese then went out in fourth place when his pocket nines failed to win the race against Yacoub’s A-K.

Yacoub couldn’t help but try a daring bluff against Reinkemeier and his bigger stack, and he quickly found himself out in third place. That left a Germany vs. U.S. battle, with the two online grinders nearly even in chips.

The two battled for nearly two hours before the penultimate blow was landed. Reinkemeier minimum-raised from the button and then called a reraise from Busquet for 220,000 more. The flop came down QSpade Suit 8Heart Suit 2Club Suit, and Busquet continued with a bet of 240,000. Reinkemeier called, and the turn was the ASpade Suit.

Busquet bet 450,000, and Reinkemeier called. The river was the 2Heart Suit, and Busquet bet 560,000. Reinkemeier then asked, “How much do you have behind?” Busquet counted out 1.2 million, and Reinkemeier promptly shoved.

“I can’t call,” said a dejected Busquet as he mucked, but Reinkemeier twisted the knife when he revealed the JSpade Suit 9Spade Suit for the bluff. Busquet then admitted that he had folded the best hand, J-10. That hand gave Reinkemeier a 4-1 chip lead, and it was over soon thereafter.

In the final hand, Busquet made his move with the ASpade Suit 2Club Suit, only to run into Reinkemeier’s pocket queens. The board didn’t help Busquet, and Reinkemeier claimed the high-roller event title.

Final-table results were as follows:

1. Tobias Reinkemeier €956,000
2. Olivier Busquet €597,600
3. Dori Yacoub €358,500
4. Tom Marchese €263,000
5. Paul Berende €191,200
6. Sorel Mizzi 143,400
7. Allen Bari €109,900
8. Michael Friedrich €81,300