EPT: Twee Belgen aan finaletafel Deauville

De Belgen Noël Gaens en Robert Romeo hebben de finaletafel van het €5.000 EPT Deauville Main Event gehaald. Het zal een lastige klus voor onze zuiderburen worden om de titel te pakken, want chipleader Remi Castaignon heeft een enorme berg munten. De Fransman heeft al zo’n 40% van alle punten in bezit.

Vandaag is de ontknoping van het EPT Main Event in Deauville. Drie Libanezen, twee Belgen, twee Fransen en een Duitser gaan uitvechten wie de eerste prijs van €770.000 in de wacht sleept. De beul van Freerk Post zit er nog in. De vlaming Noël Gaens kraakte gisteren met pocket zessen de Azen van Post preflop all in en luidde zo de uitschakeling van de Nederlander in. Gaens haalde vervolgens de finaletafel.

De Fransman Remi Castaignon heeft 9.9 miljoen van de pakweg 23 miljoen chips in play al weten te verzamelen. Castaignon kraakte Azen met Koningen en kon helemaal niets fout doen op weg naar de finaletafel. De grote vraag is of hij nog afgestopt kan worden. Tweede in chips is de Libanees Walid Bou-Habib met 3.8 miljoen. De Belgen hebben bescheiden stacks van rond de twintig big blinds. Met blinds op 40.000/80.000 start vanmiddag om 12:00u de finaletafel.

In de €10.000 Highroller wisten de Nederlanders het geld niet te halen. De Belg Davidi Kitai noteerde wel een mincash. Er zijn nog zes spelers over voor de finaletafel van vandaag, aangezien het toernooi gisteren niet kon worden afgerond. Martin Jacobson is de chipleader. Voor de winnaar ligt €313.000 klaar.

De livestream van het Main Event is weer te volgen via PokerStars.tv. Onder de chipcounts vind je profielen van de finalisten (in het Engels, met dank aan PokerStars). Veel kijkplezier!

Seat 1. Joseph El Khoury, Lebanon, 1,710,000
Seat 2. Jeffrey Hakim, Lebanon, 895,000
Seat 3. Enrico Rudelitz, Germany, 2,690,000
Seat 4. Franck Kalfon, France, 1,195,000
Seat 5. Robert Romeo, Belgium, 1,440,000
Seat 6. Walid Bou-Habib, Lebanon, 3,835,000
Seat 7. Noel Gaens, Belgium, 1,720,000
Seat 8. Remi Castaignon, France, 9,900,000

De finalisten:

Seat 8: Remi Castaignon, 29, Saint Aunix Lengros, France – 9,900,000

It’s not very often that a player arrives at the final table holding more than 40% of the chips in play, but insurance broker Remi Castaignon just accomplished this impressive feat with gusto, never losing his cool during a crucial Day 5 that saw him catching a few lucky breaks (including a massive KK vs AA suckout early during the day), eliminating several players in a row (including fellow countrymen Cyril André and Jean-Pierre Petroli) and displaying an overall excellent performance.

Hailing from a tiny village in the Pyrenées, Castaignon has been playing poker since 2007, mostly online tournaments and satellites for big live events. Reaching the final table in Deauville is his best result to date.

Seat 7: Noel Gaens, 57, Heers, Belgium – 1,720,000

This is Noel Gaens’s second EPT, as he also competed in one of the first EPTs in Dortmund. He plays a whole lot of poker, but is by no means a professional, running his own building firm with a staff of 40. He considers poker a hobby but it’s lucrative and he’s enjoyed a lot of cashes in his “career.”

Gaens has been playing poker since 1995 and used to travel frequently to Germany in the early years because poker wasn’t on offer in Belgian casinos. However poker is now way more popular in Belgium and Gaens is a regular cash game player at the PokerStars-affiliated Casino de Namur.

On Day 2, Gaens tripled up (with trips over trips) and hasn’t looked back since, although he admits he got lucky several times. Gaens says he isn’t easily intimidated and isn’t afraid of anyone at the final table. “I’m just going to play my own game,” he says.

Seat 6: Walid Bou-Habib, 42, Beirut, Lebanon – 3,835,000

When Walid Bou-Habib first appeared on the scene back in 2008 he came close to making the final table. That 19th-place finish in the EPT Grand Final for €46,300 may have made him think it would be easy but it’s taken a further five years and Main Event cashes, including a very creditable 16th place at the PCA for $100,000, for that final table to appear. Understandably he’s thrilled.

“It’s a great pleasure, really, just to prove to myself that I can do it. It was always like a big wall that I could not cross. Now, I’m crossing it,” says Bou-Habib, an engineer in food science and technology by day. The Lebanese “hobby” player is a serial online qualifier through PokerStars and has gone on to rack up $386,492 in live tournament cashes.

Seventh place will guarantee him a career largest score but given the number of short stacks left in, he’s in rude health to go significantly deeper than that as he currently sits in second place with 3,835,000. Bou-Habib is married with two children (12 and 10).

Seat 5: Robert Romeo, 41, Sambreville, Belgium – PokerStars qualifier – 1,440,000

French-speaking Robert Romeo started playing poker around 2007, first with friends and then online. Initially, he played just for fun but, as time went by, he started taking it more seriously.

This is his first EPT but he didn’t have to spend much to enter, having qualified on PokerStars in a €4 rebuy satellite! “And I didn’t take any rebuys, just the add-on”, he adds. Married with four children, Robert plans to buy a house and shower his family with presents if he wins. He says also that a victory would cause him seriously to consider taking up poker as a second job.

Seat 4: Franck Kalfon, 46, Saint-Brice en Forêt, France – 1,195,000

Franck Kalfon, who runs a textile firm, has been a regular fixture in Paris cardrooms – the famous Aviation Club in particular – for the last ten years. At first a cash game player, his eighth place finish in the 2008 Grand Prix de Paris (for €39,330) convinced him to dedicate more time to tournaments.

In addition to multiple wins in Paris events, he has made the money twice before at EPTs, both times in Deauville (39th in Season 6 for €14,700, 40th in Season 7 for €17,000). Reaching this year’s final table represents the best result of his career.

“I’m living a dream,” says Kalfon. “I’ll play to win,” he added, not worried about being short-stacked.

Seat 3: Enrico Rudelitz, 25, Freisein/Saarland, Germany – 2,690,000

Chemistry student Enrico Rudelitz has been playing poker for four years. He mainly plays tournaments but doesn’t consider himself a professional and Deauville is his first EPT cash. His normal milieu is smaller buy-in events like FPS Amneville in May 2012, where he finished seventh for €11,800, his biggest live cash so far.

Rudelitz came to Deauville with a group of German friends including PokerStars.de Snowfest champion Marius Pospiech and Jonas Lauck who won the FPS High Roller Event here in Deauville. All of these guys will be cheering him on from the rail at the Deauville final table.

Seat 2: Jeffrey Hakim, 26, Beirut, Lebanon – 895,000

Since playing his first EPT in 2008, serial qualifier Jeff “jeff710” Hakim has attended around 30 EPTs. “I almost always win my seat online,” says Hakim. “But now I come regardless, even if I don’t qualify. I’m not going to miss any EPTs.”

Hakim’s first EPT Main Event cash was at EPT Snowfest in Austria in Season 6, and his best result so far — out of six EPT cashes — was 16th at EPT Berlin in Season 7.

“I’ve definitely won more money online (he won the PokerStars 500 in 2008 for $91,500) but winning a live event means everything,” he says. “I don’t think I will ever move on from poker, I won’t feel complete as a player, until I’ve won a major title.”

He is the short stack going in to the final. But he also started Day 5 as virtually the shortest stack, then managed to turn 24 big blinds into more than 1.7 million in the space of 90 minutes.

Seat 1: Joseph El Khoury, 41, Beirut, Lebanon – 1,710,000

Travel agent Joseph El Khoury is one of 15 Lebanese players who competed at EPT Deauville and there are still three left –- taking them from 1.92% of the field on Day 1 to 37.5% for the final.

Lebanon is the current EPT Country of the Year. Like his fellow countrymen, Jeffrey Hakim and Walid Bou-Habbib, El Khoury is an EPT regular who has played around 20 EPTs in the last five years. He has cashed twice, both times in Prague, but his best live result before now was fifth place at WPT Cyprus last summer. That give him a $65,770 payday but he’s guaranteed at least €60,000 here in Deauville.