Thursday, February 17, 2005

French Open--18 remain--John Gale is gone

John Gale just busted out. With the big blind at 8000, Gale raised in early position with AQ to 20,000. Peter Eichhardt called the rise from the big blind. The flop came down 283 with two clubs. Eichhardt immediately announced all-in and Gale called with ace-high and no clubs. Eichhardt turned up 75 suited in clubs. A four on the turn gave Eichhard the gutshot draw to go with his club draw. The king of clubs on the river gave the hand and substantial chip-stack to Eichhardt.

2700 Euro

19--Frank Bastow, England--PokerStars online qualifer
20--John Gale, England
21-Ivo Donev, Austria
22--Joseph Mrejen, France
23--Jean-Pierre Petroli, France
24--Morten Sembach, Denmark
25--Ezra Galston, USA (he says 'Hi' to his parents)
26--Jeff Duvall, England
27--Mika Tapio, Finland

Bubble bursts, heart breaks...and dinner break chip leaders

Before we continue, the Stars staff here in Deauville wishes to send some good wishes toward the Stars support team. We know you're reading and we know you're working very hard today. Thanks and keep your chin up

After a series of spectacular hands and showdowns, we reached the bubble. Twenty-eight players remained when we went hand-to-hand.

Only pictures can tell this story (blurry as the pics are...)

This is Jean-Claude Perera, a man who, under the gun, came in with a small bet

And this is Keith "The Camel" Hawkins, a man who put in a big enough raise from the button to put Jean-Claude all-in. Jean-Claude, after a few seconds thought, called...forcing Hawkins to show...

It was perhaps the only thing Jean-Claude did not want to see...for he turned up...

Folks who read these blogs know I call this match up the OOH! That's "Only Online Hand" for the uninitiated. And it makes all the railbirds go "OOH!" But wait...the flop!

The crowd again went "OOH!" But wait...the turn and river...

It's dramatic any time you see it happen. But when it happens on the bubble and to poor Jean-Claude, it's simply heartbreaking

We're headed to dinner with 27 players remaining. The hope is we'll play down to the final table of eight tonight and take tomorrow off.

The two biggest stacks right now...

Gale is sitting in the neighborhood of 200,000 in chips

Brandon Schaefer of the USA is sitting close to 180,000 in chips

Back after dinner.

In-game chip update

With one level left before the dinner break, we have several big stacks vying for the chip lead...

Among them...

Britain's Sam Orams, Keith Hawkin, John Gale, and Jeff Duvall...
America's PokerStars online qualifiers Justin Bonomo and Brandon Schaefer,
and Sweden's PokerStars online qualifier Peter Eichhard.

Thirty-six players remain. We hit the money at 27.

Notable bust-outs: David "Devilfish" Ulliott and Isabelle Mercier.

And the writers are still hanging on. Mike "Lucky Blind" and Tony "Tikay" Kendall have recently doubled up.

This was just a three-minute break, so we're back to the action now.

So you want pocket aces?

After watching one of the biggest hands of the day, I posed the question...

If you had a chance to have pocket aces one time in a tournament, what kind of opposition do you hope to face?

And I received some very thoughtful answers...

My personal favourite scenario would be at some point well into the
tournament, so you are likely to be able to get all in preflop and get
called, you want to find: AA v AK v AK v KK. Then you are 93% favourite to quadruple up, nice! --Anonymous

I guess I'd want someone to open with a raise, someone to
re-raise, and I go all in with Aces. All the money goes in, and the other
2 have KK!....Making the Aces roughly 96% fav. --Adam

When I'm somewhere near the bubble, not sure I'll make the final table, against an aggressive player who'll take me on and another shortish stack all-in! Pocket Aces are wasted when the blinds are small. --Richard

They are all wonderful scenarios and things about which we dream when we're sitting looking at 83 offsuit all day. Well, consider this hand that actually played out this afternoon.

With the blinds at 500/1000, the player under the gun brought it in for a raise, making it 3000 to go. The player directly to his left called the 3000. The rest of the table folded around to the small blind who pushed in for about 15,000 more. The big blind then announced he was all in for a similar amount. After some thought, the other two players called. At once, we had a pot worth more than 70,000.

With both blinds all-in, the other two players saw the flop, TT5 rainbow. The player under the gun who had been the first raiser pushed all in and the player to his left folded, saying he folded a middle pair.

That left the remaining three players...


The turn and river, a nine and three, improved no one and the player who found aces in the small blind quadrupled up. He remains in the tournament with 39 players remaining.

Certainly, it wasn't any the perfect scenarios listed above. However, when you have callers, just about any scenario works. In this aces, AA faced JJ, QQ, and a middle pair.

Aces hold up

French Open Day 2 Chip Leaders

With 51 players remaining at the end of Level 11 (800/1600/150), PokerStars. com oinline qualifier Justin Bonomo and PokerStars Caribbean Adventure Champion John Gale are neck and neck for the chip lead, each holding more than 140K in chips.

Thanks for all your replies on the pocket aces question below. I'll take a few more, post some answers, and then show you what happened here earlier today.

Interactive blogging

One of the most exciting hands of the tournament raised this question: When do you want pocket aces?

Of course, the obvious answer is...well, always.

But if you had a chance to have pocket aces one time in a tournament, what kind of opposition do you hope to face?

Send me an e-mail at the link on the right with your answer and I'll detail the hand a bit later.

French Open Day Two begins and Insta-Photo Gallery

Note: I've just received an updated list of today's starters, including nationality. You'll find it in place of this morning's wrap-up at the end of the post

Sometimes on the first day of the tournament, as a player rests her chin on the edge of her chair and ponders a call that will likely insure she'll be in to the end of the hand, she'll think simply, "What do I have to do to survive?"

Now, though, as that player ponders the call again--this time on Day 2--everything changes. Sure, survival is still a consideration, but now there's an added element of ambition. She has surived until Day 2. Now, it's a question of whether she can win.

In the end, the player above decided to fold her pocket tens, sighing with relief when her opponent flashed pocket jacks.

Après-midi? Really??

When I finally escaped the poker room early this morning, a security guard followed me out, chasing me down the hallway. He spoke in French and seemed to insist I understand. I apologized and told him I spoke only a little French. "Un peu," I said, holding my fingers close together.

He spoke no English, so he continued to speak in French. Eventually I understood him to say, "Hotel Normandy." It barely helped that he was making wild hand motions that seemed to indicate he either had some serious shoulder issues or he wanted me to go swimming with him.

Finally, I got it. The door between the casino and hotel was locked and he had to unlock it for me. And he didn't care to go swimming.

Once I made it back to my room, it was nearing 5am and finding no alarm clock, I called for a wake-up call.

"For 1 PM, please," I said, thinking perhaps I should throw a sil vous plait in there for good measure.

The man at the reception desk seemed a bit dubious. "Après-midi?" he asked, seeming to think we had a language barrier to overcome. Après-midi means afternoon, after all.

"Oui, après-midi."

"D'accord. Merci."

I turned on the shower and searched the mini-bar for some juice. The phone rang and it was the reception desk again. And, still, he was doubtful. Something deep down made him call me back to confirm that I really wanted to get up at...

"Treize hours?" he said. The incredulity at the poker lifestyle was just as charming as it gets.

I had to laugh.

Yep. I need a wake-up call for one o'clock in the afternoon.

As a familiar player would remark, "That's poker, baby."


Halfway through Level 10, we have 75 players remaining. Some of the small stacks are strating to fall off. I figure my late afternoon update should provide some idea of who is truly going to be out in front for the race to the final table.

In the meantime, here are a few pictures from the start of play today.

The field thins

Considering a call

A Fishy look

A 'BadGirl' smile

PCA champ, John Gale and his stack of chips

Fellow poker blogger Mike "Lucky Blind" Lacy checking his hole cards. Lacy is a cash qualifer from

French Open Day Two underway

The cards were in the air at 2pm sharp today. Nine players dropped off in the first 18 minutes.

We began the day with 104 players, at Level 9, 400/800/100 blinds and antes.

I'm headed into the fray and will return shortly with some early action.

Putting Day One of the French Open to bed

It has to be beautiful to wake up at lunchtime and find your chair waiting for you in a big tournament like this. Moreover, it has to be certainly brilliant to wake up and find 10,000 chips waiting for you.

Ten thousand chips and a chair.

If only there were such a guarantee that one could go to bed with the such good fortune. The nature of these things--these tournaments where one mistake or a day full of cold cards--means quite simply that more than a hundred people who awoke from restless dreams to a 10,000 chip reality are headed back to bed or out to Deauville bars with neither a chip, nor a chair.

We could all cry in unison for them, but we would be singing without hundred or so people left in this contest. They are people who will retire back to their restless dreams and return Thursday afternoon to their chair and chipstack.

We were not without dreams, though. 'Tis better to have dreamed...oh, you get the idea.

Those who've read these blogs before know, while I keep an eye on the big-name players like I'm supposed to, I'm a sucker for a Cinderella story. I thought I'd found one in Bill Munley. Bill joined us from Pennsylvania. He used 15 Frequent Player Points on to win his entry into the EPT's French Open. What's more, he wasn't even sure he could come. He'd been trying to sell his seat and realized when he returned from a Las Vegas trip (just a couple days before this tournament) that he was going to play here. He scrounged up a passport on the quick and made the trip. Alas, he couldn't get anything going today and left with about 145 players remaining. With a few more days left in the festival, he's hoping to make good in the Sit-n-Go tournaments that are running most nights.

Scandinavian Open champ Noah Boeken found himself out early in the day, just moments after his mentor Marcel Luske busted out with two pair vs. a rivered set. Boeken is leading the way, running over the one-table freeze-outs. Word on the street is he's already won enough in those tournies to cover his trip.

It takes a poker player's heart to handle the swings in this room. As the final level of the day began, I watched a poor soul with a desperately short stack call an all-in bet on a 99Q board. When he desperately needed to hit a flop, this particular hand answered his prayers. He held A9 for flopped trips. What's more, his opponent had pushed him all in with JT, an open-ended straight-draw. When a queen came on the turn, it killed all but two of his opponents outs. And it happened...a queen came on the river to build a bigger boat and the man who was expecting to double up ended up chopping the pot. He muttered a word in French that I understood, but, in the interest of good taste, will not publish here.

It was quickly becoming that time of day when the short-stacked either chose to cling to life or push on a prayer. Fellow poker blogger, Mike Lacy of poker blog Lucky Blind was a survivor turning a 3000-sized stack into 33,000 after the dinner break, hitting the board with J9, 88, and 67. By the end of the day he sat with around 55,000. Who says writers can't play poker?

Mike "Lucky Blind" Lacy

Also maintaining the writers' cause is writer and poker player Keith "The Camel" Hawkins. Late in the day he controlled one of the biggest chip-stacks in the room.

The Camel holding his water and a big chip stack

Here are a few of your other big stacks.

Thomas Mathiesem (aka clarkaoo) from Norway

Dave "Devilfish" Ulliott, who replayed his James Bond impersonation at the end of the day, broadcasting his cell phone's 007 theme over the public address system

Peter Eichhardt, from Sweden, who reluctantly gave up his online screen name...FoxyLisa. Incidentally, he was a cash qualifier on Stars

Jeff Duvall, an EPT final table finisher in London

John Gale, PokerStars Caribbean Adventure champion

Indeed it is a hearty field that retires to bed or hits the taxis for a night/early morning on the town.

After a long session of hard work by poker guru Thomas Keller, we have the chip counts as they stand at the end of Day One. On his behalf, I'll apologize in advance for any misspelled names.

Orams Sam 101,975 Britain
Steffen Dam 78,175 Denmark
Gale John 71,025 Britain
Hawkins Keith 67,850 Britain
EichhardtPeter 62,500 Sweden
Mathiesen Thomas58,750
Duvall Jeff 56,050 Britain
Lacy Mike 54,575 Ireland
Galston Ezra 53,225 USA
Fariolo Julian 50,100
Bonomo Justin 49,500 USA
Leumi Mike 46,000
Zerbib Jerome 43,450
Chow Howard 39,575 USA
Nassif Gabriel 38,075
Lofthouse Melanie 37,750 Britain
Nilsson Henrik 36,775
Ulliott Dave 36,750 Britain
Vandenbourg Erik 36,000
Leibgorin Michel 35,125
Pagano Luca 34,950 Italian
Henning 34,425 Swedish
Petroli Jean- Pierre 34,325
Schaefer B. 33,525 USA
Lellouche Anthony 32,575
Liffey Rory 31,800 Ireland
Baston Frank 30,450
Coonbes Bob 30,450
Westberg 29,875
Creagh Adrian 29,175
Poulain A. 28,700
Giles Haddad 28,625
Dalhuijsen 26,775
Kakaoun 26,625
Wenzel Todd 25,800 USA
Perera Jean- Claude 25,075
Sindelar Eric 24,725
Mercier Isabelle 24,450 Canada
Dalby Eric 24,325
Torbey 23,700 France
Davidsen Peter 23,675 Denmark
Barnay Patrick 23,625
TuckmannJeremy 23,250
JerlstromJonas 22,750
Abouaf Dan 22,725
Coldwell John22,125
Falk Daniel 21,100 Sweden
Lemercier 20,775 France
Wraith Mark 20,775
Ilja Hony 20,675 Holland
Resewhr Charles 20,525
Boutilliere Jerome 20,475
Donev Ivo 20,475
Chicheportiche 20,375
Ristine Mark 20,250
Arshad Wilhelm 18,325
Phy Pham 18,300
Mrejen Joseph 17,825
Zajdenberg M. 17,325
Francis Keith 17,275
Olson Carl 16,675
Wilhelm Janne 16,000
Thomas Jean- Mark 15,925
Choquet 15,325
Eskeid Fred 14,425
Pham Xujen 13,950 Britain
Albion Phillip 13,375
Peretti 13,250
Mortesson Patrick 13,100
Cascarino Tony 12,725 Ireland
David Amelie 12,675
Bebeaulox Ronnie 12,625
Carlson Peter 12,150
Lovas Christer 11,825
Audet Audrej 11,600
Bueno Patrick 11,375
Sonigo Franck 11,100
Hartigan James 11,075
Gregersen K. 10,675
Douieb Jerome 10,550
Metsa Aki 10,000
Tann Willie 9,475 Britain
Atheas L. 8,650
Kendall Tony 8,600
Sitbom Guy 8,025
Petit Emile 7,625
Scapula F. 7,500
Testud Paul 7,475 France
Sembach Morten 7,450 Danish
Xanthos Bambos 7,250
Mercado John 6,525
Stolzmann Steve 6,450
Aiken Michael 6,425
Champagnol Patrick 6,100
Tellef Aune 5,325
Svartback Jonatan 5,000
Quesada Renald 4,850
Vladdar Steve 4,700
Dumont L. 4,000
Furguson Andrew 3,825
Patel Jigher 3,750
Cummins Eugene 3,175
Fressenon 3,075

We start again at 2pm Deauville time on Thursday.

Day One in the books--results pending

After more than ten hours of play, Day One of the French Open is in the books. Unfortunately, I can't post today's final chapter until the chip count comes in.

The chip count is underway and I'll post it and a final report as soon as the count is complete.