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Making WSOPE History In Cannes

by Rebecca McAdam |  Published: Dec 01, 2011

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Guillaume HumbertYes we Cannes

The French Riviera city of Cannes usually evokes images of expensive shopping, luxury vacations, celebrity sightings, and of course, the annual Cannes Film Festival. In October it also became associated with the World Series of Poker Europe as the highly anticipated festival pulled into the Casino Barrière de Cannes Croisette for its French debut.

This was the first time that the WSOPE had been held outside of London and with the move came a few changes. The hop across the English Channel ensured a currency switch from sterling to euro; the festival itself was moved forward from September to October, meaning it would take place after the European Poker Tour London instead of before, and the new facility was prepared for double the capacity with a planned 75 concurrent poker tables. Most importantly, the number of bracelet events increased from five to seven plus there were also two non-bracelet events; the €550 buy-in ladies event and the Caesars Cup.

This year a €1,620 buy-in, three-day, six-handed pot-limit Omaha event and a €3,200 buy-in, three-day, no-limit hold’em shootout were added to the schedule, and the £10,350 High Roller heads-up event from last year became a €10,400 no-limit hold’em split format this year. The four-day event started off ninehanded, changed to sixhanded on the second day, and finished off heads up on days three and four.

At time of writing, this event was in full swing with some of the biggest names of the poker world battling it out, while three out of the seven bracelet events had already found their champions.

Success For The Swiss

Barman Guillaume Humbert decided against heading to Vegas this summer to take part in his first WSOP but to wait and go to Cannes instead. It turned out to be a good decision as the Swiss man took down event no. 1, the €2,500 sixhanded no-limit hold’em tournament, for a payday of €215,999.

The 26-year-old topped a field of 360 in his first major live tournament to become the first WSOP bracelet winner from Switzerland. He beat Azusa Maeda heads up despite Maeda holding the chip lead going into the final battle. It was Maeda’s first major live poker tournament cash as he, like Humbert, is more of an online player. If he made it to first place instead of the €133,471 runner-up prize, he would have been the first Japanese WSOP champion. Instead Switzerland gets its very first WSOP bracelet-wearing bartender.

Où Est Le Bracelet, Phil?

All eyes were on this event and not just because it kicked off proceedings in Cannes but because Phil Hellmuth was at it again — the 11-time gold bracelet holder was once more in search of his 12th and things looked good for a while with the American pro getting nearer and nearer to the official sixhanded final table. The “Poker Brat” made it excruciatingly close receiving €24,183 for his seventh-place finish, and accumulating some WSOP Player of the Year points to help him in his race with front-runner Ben Lamb. He also increased his lead as the player with the most cashes with this his 84th time in the money.

Here are the final-table results and payouts:

1. Guilluame Humbert - €215,999
2. Azusa Maeda -
€133,471
3. Roy Finlay — €92,629
4. Matan Krakow — €65,068
5. Adrien Allain — €46,250
6. Marton Czuczor — €33,255

Other well-known players who went deep included Casey Kastle (€17,790), Anton Wigg (€13,228), David Benyamine (€13,228), and Freddy Deeb (€9,936).

After winning, Humbert said, “I can’t believe it. It’s amazing. This is my first live tournament. I can’t believe this has happened to me… I am going to put some of the money away so I can maybe open up some kind of bar business. But it is early to tell. I have not thought about that yet… I always knew I could do something in poker, and now – today’s the day.”

Andrew HinrichsenAussie, Aussie, Aussie

Cannes witnessed some explosive poker action when Australian Andrew Hinrichsen took down event no.2, a €1,090 no-limit hold’em event, in what was a record-breaking field, to become the sixth ever Australian WSOP champion.

Hinrichsen lined his pockets with the €148,030 top prize for topping a massive 771-strong field; the largest turnout ever recorded in the World Series of Poker Europe’s history. This in turn created a total prize pool of €740,160 which Hinrichsen took the lion’s share of, but it didn’t always look like it was going the 23-year-old’s way.

Overcoming the final table was no easy feat. Players such as John Eames and Roberto Romanello were going to do all they could to prevent the Australian from walking away with the bracelet. When Hinrichsen battled his way down to the final three there was no clear chip leader but the two Italians remaining weren’t going to make it easy for the young poker pro. His stack was soon slashed down to just over 200,000 and third-place was growing ever closer but soon Hinrichsen got the double up he needed and from there he didn’t look back.

He quickly moved into the lead and then finished things off with ASpade Suit KSpade Suit, out-kicking his heads-up opponent Gianluca Speranza on a king-high board.

Here are the final-table results and payouts:

1. Andrew Hinrichsen - €148,030
2. Gianluca Speranza — €91,262
3. Tarcisio Bruno -
€67,281
4. Bernard Guigon — €50,146
5. Roberto Romanello - €37,874
6. Eric Baudry -
€28,977
7. John Eames — €22,449
8. Nabil Nedjai — €17,608
9. Gregory Lejolivet — €13,982

Steve BillirakisAmerican Glory

The 2011 WSOPE then added an American to its list of winners as the third bracelet was set to travel all the way home to Las Vegas from Cannes. Steve Billirakis earned his second gold bracelet and €147,171 ($202,587) in the €5,000 pot-limit Omaha championship after topping a 180-strong field including a tough final table featuring players from eight different nations such as Eoghan O’Dea, Sam Trickett, Ramzi Jelassi, Sam Chartier, and Jerome Bradpiece.

The first player to hit the rail was this year’s WSOP main event finalist, Eoghan O’Dea. The young Irish pro’s father Donnacha won a bracelet in a pot-limit Omaha event in 1998. If Eoghan had hung around long enough to take it down, he and his father would be the only father-son duo to win bracelets in the same game. Doyle and Todd Brunson are, to this day, the only father-son combo to win WSOP bracelets.

Bradpiece raised to 15,000 in mid-position and Trickett made the call from the button. O’Dea came along for the ride and the flop was dealt ASpade Suit 7Spade Suit 6Diamond Suit. O’Dea bet 45,000, Bradpiece folded, and Trickett bet the pot. O’Dea moved his remaining 75,000 in and the two turned over their cards. Trickett showed ADiamond Suit QSpade Suit 10Diamond Suit 8Spade Suit while O’Dea revealed AClub Suit QClub Suit JSpade Suit 7Heart Suit. The turn was dealt the JDiamond Suit and the river was the 5Diamond Suit giving Trickett a flush and putting O’Dea out in ninth for €21,221.

The chip leader at the start of the final table was Englishman Sam Trickett but his tournament life was cut short by Italian Michele Di Lauro who put him out in fourth place for €77,642. After a raise of 48,000 and a call, Di Lauro and Trickett saw a 7Spade Suit 5Club Suit 2Diamond Suit flop. The two then got it all in with Trickett the player at risk.

Trickett held KHeart Suit 10Diamond Suit 10Spade Suit JSpade Suit while Di Lauro had QClub Suit 3Club Suit 7Heart Suit 2Heart Suit. The turn fell the AClub Suit and the river was the 9Diamond Suit. Di Lauro’s two pair was enough to end Trickett’s dreams of a bracelet and the young pro pocketed €77,642 for a respectable fourth-place finish.

Billirakis then went on to clean up, eliminating Jelassi before facing Di Lauro for the final stage. The American took his last opponent down when he called Di Lauro’s all-in on a flop of ASpade Suit KDiamond Suit 7Club Suit. Billirakis held AHeart Suit KHeart Suit QDiamond Suit 3Heart Suit, which held to make him the third champion of this year’s Series. Di Lauro received €147,171 for second place.

Here are the final-table results and payouts:

1. Steve Billirakis — €238,140
2. Michele Di Lauro — €147,171
3. Ramzi Jelassi — €105,937
4. Sam Trickett — €77,642
5. Jerome Bradpiece — €57,912
6. Konstantin Uspenskiy — €43,950
7. Erich Kollmann — €33,922
8. Sam Chartier - €26,610
9. Eoghan O’Dea -
€21,221

Billirakis won his first WSOP bracelet in 2007 in a $5,000 mixed hold’em event. At the time he was the youngest player to ever win a bracelet but that didn’t last long as Annette Obrestad soon took over when she won the inaugural WSOP Europe main event on the eve of her 19th birthday.

The next issue of Card Player will cover the four remaining bracelet events, as well as the Caesars Cup which sees Europe captain Bertrand Grospellier and his team battle against the Americas captained by Phil Hellmuth. The WSOPE will also have a new champion, following in the footsteps of James Bord (main event winner 2010) and Card Player publisher Barry Shulman (2009). ♠