Friday, February 18, 2005

French Open Day 3 Wrap-up

Final table players and chip counts can be found at the end of this post

Carl Olson and Brandon Schaefer live just a couple of blocks from each other in Seattle, Washington. They went to high school together. They went to college together.

Saturday, they go to the final table together.

It's an improbable story, to be sure. Olson, a recent college graduate, won a cash qualifier on PokerStars.com earlier in the year, but didn't feel much like making the trip overseas by himself. So he made a deal with his buddy Schaefer. He offered to pay for Shaeffer's hotel room if Shaefer agreed to fly over with him. Schaefer was in the middle of some life changes, switching jobs and preparing to move to California. He figured...why not?

And then he decided to make it interesting, entering a few PokerStars.com Frequent Player Point qualifiers for the French Open. He missed on his first couple of tries and then, on his last possible opportunity, he won.

So, figure the odds on that while I type the next few words...

FPP-qualifier Brandon Schaefer goes into tomorrow with not just a chip-lead, but almost a 2-1 chip lead over second place.


Schaefer is all smiles

Oh, and not to be outdone, the buddy that conned Schaefer into coming here in the first place is not doing too shabby either. He sits third in chips.


Carl Olson, a picture of how buddies can get you into more than you expect

Doing the quarter mile in thirty-miuntes

I'm not a big drag racing fan. It's a lot of going really fast for a very short distance then quitting when it seems like it's just getting started. Of course, there is something fabulously powerful about those cars that shoot off the starting line, pushing their engines so hard they explode in a ball of flames and frustration.

The play today looked much the same way, a fast and furious start followed by a slow, grinding roll to the final eight players.

Here's how it looked at the beginning of the day:

Table 1
1--Keith "The Camel" Hawkins--191,500, England (PokerStars online qualifier)
2--Carl Olson, USA--87,500 (PokerStars online qualifier)
3--Eric Vanderburg, Holland--133,000
4--Brandon Schaefer, USA--205,000 (PokerStars online FPP qualifier)
5--Bob Coombes, England--345,000
6--Tony "Tikay" Kendall, England--55,500
7--Mike "Lucky Blind" Lacey--246,000 (PokerStars online qualifier)
8--Luca Pagano, Italy--138,000
9--Peter Eichhardt, Sweden--249,000 (PokerStars online qualifier)

Table 2
1--Peter Dalhuijsen, Holland--172,000
2--Justin Bonomo, USA--105,000 (PokerStars online qualifier)
3--Willie Tann--51,000
4--Mark Ristine, USA--52,000 (PokerStars online qualifier)
5--Jeremy Tuckman--60,000
6--Sami Torbey, France--91,000
7--Jerome Zerbib--99,000
8--Melanie Lofthouse, England--57,500
9--Sam Orams, England--134,500

With the blinds already at 5000/10000/1000, the shortstacks had to make a move fast. American Mark Ristine made his move early, pushing all in with Big Slick. On the button, Melanie Lofthouse hoped her A3 was good and called for almost her entire stack. The board didn't help her and with only an ante left, she left in 18th place on the next hand. While horrible for Lofthouse, it was an omen, of sorts, for what would happen to Ristine for the rest of the day.

Double knock-out

Bob Coombes came into the day as the chip leader. He could afford to be fearless. So, when he raised to 30,000 under the gun, perhaps it was no surprise that Tony "Tikay" Kendall pushed in the rest of his stack, 75,000. What was a little more extraordinary was Eric Vanderburg's announcement that he, too, was all in for a little more than 100,000.

So, while we're living in the realm of surprise, consider this: Coombes called them both, confidently flipping up a pair of kings to battle Tikay's AT and Vanderburg's AQ. The board eventually paired Tikay's ten, but it was no good and Coombes scored a double knock-out.


Bob Coombes, punching with both fists

Jerome Zerbib was the next to go, getting all in with AT versus Jeremy Tuckman's aces.

Tuckman' perhaps, was feeling a little froggy, and decided to jump, getting all-in pre-flop shortly thereafter, putting his AJo against Peter Dalhuijsen's pair of kings. Dalhuijsen felt a little uneasy when the flop came down 78T, giving Tuckman the gutshot draw. Dalhuijsen felt absolutely sick on the turn when a nine came down and made Tuckman's straight. Dalhuijsen was left with just a couple of chips and exited shortly thereafter in 14th place.

Britain's Sam Orams had been getting knocked around at the table, losing a significant portion of his stack when Sami Torbey sucked out a straight with a KT versus Orams' AJ. A few hands later Orams raised with QTs and Justin Bonomo pushed all in with A9. Orams called and got no help from the board, leaving in 13th place.

As that was happening, the other table was about to erupt. After getting chipped away all day long, Mike "Lucky Blind" Lacey pushed all in for about 88,000 in middle position. Luca Pagano cold-called the bet. Peter Eichhardt then moved all-in for an amount that would've meant Pagano had to sacrifice his entire stack. Pagano folded.

Lacey turned up AJ suited in diamonds to Eichhardt's pair of jacks.

"Three outs," Lacey muttered.

But the flop made it interesting, coming down KT8 with two diamonds, giving Lacey a gutshot and flush draw. He needed an ace, a queen, or a diamond. The turn made it more interesting, pulling out a seven, offering the possibility of a chopped pot if a nine fell. Alas, the river was a king and fellow poker blogger Mike Lacey left in 12th place.

Waiter, could you please bring a platter of good fortune to Table 2?

It must be something in the California water. Or maybe it is that Mark Ristine hadn't gotten very lucky for most of the tournament. Whatever it was, something happened when we had eleven players left.


Mark Ristine

Willie Tann moved all in from the button with AKo. With very few chips in front of him, Ristine immediately called with Q6o. The flop brought 622 and Ristine cheered. Then the turn came with an ace and Tann broke a big smile. So, imagine everyone's surprise when the river was a six, one of only two outs Ristine had to stay alive.

It continued moments later when he pushed all in with a pair of tens. Jeremy Tuckman called and flipped up a pair of kings. But, woah, woah, woah...Justin Bonomo still had cards and hadn't acted.

"I guess I fold," Bonomo smirked.

Tuckman's hand stayed alive, but he was given a ten minute penalty for revealing his cards prematurely. Moments later he'd wish he'd never seen the kings, for the flop came down ten-high, giving Ristine the set and doubling him up again.

Could it happen again? Yes, again.

Willie Tann got into it again with Ristine, getting all in with a pair of tens versus Ristine's A3. And, of course, Ristine hit his ace and send Tann out in eleventh place.


Willie Tann

Ristine almost seemed to feel a bit guilty for his good fortune. At the same time, as he said during a break, it was the first time he'd been lucky the entire tournament.

While Ristine's engine ran wide-open, the tournament's dragster motor decided to give up the ghost. With only two players left to go until the final eight, the players tightened up and it got very, very slow.

Like the last shot of oil from the bottom of the engine, Keith "The Camel" Hawkins trickled to his demise, getting in with pocket sevens from the button. Olson called with AJ and made a jack on the flop. Hawkins was crippled and on the next hand said goodbye in tenth place.


No TV time for The Camel


The final nine

Ristine was still strong and began the beating on one-time big chip-stack Peter Eichhardt. Ristine called Eichhardt's all-in bet preflop with AJ and made his ace on the flop, doubling up once again.

Bonomo

It's been implied that I have a bit of a Justin Bonomo fetish because I've featured him so many times on the PokerStars blogs. Here's my defense: He's qualified online for the PokerStars Caribbean Adevenure, the Scandinavian Open, and the French Open. That is consistency, folks. He cashed in the Caribbean, nearly cashed in Denmark, and made the final table here in France. Again, consistency.


I do not have a Bonomo festish. I'm a happily married man. I do not have a Bonomo fetish

All of that not withstanding, though, his next hand would prove to be very, very ugly.

With the blinds at 7500/15000/1500, Brandon Schaefer raised to 40,000 in middle position. On the button, Bonomo made it 100,000 to go. It might've worked had Luca Pagano not re-raised all-in from the big blind for 191,500. Schaefer folded quickly (he later said he had pocket eights) and Bonomo went in the tank, counting the money in the pot and how much it was laying him. Finally, he called, flipping up 49 suited in diamonds. Luca turned over pocket queens. Bonomo never improved. Luca ended up making quad queens and taking down a half million chip pot. Bonomo survived, but barely.


Luca, not sleeping with the fishes

Dealer: "The ladybug doesn't play, sir"

With only one player left to go before we broke for the day, Sami Torbey pushed in his entire stack, including his ladybug card marker, hoping against hope his AQ would hold up. Eichhardt called with AK. It looked as though we were on our way to a night on the town when the flop and turn came down 257J.

And then the ladybug played, spiking a queen on the river to double up Sami and send us into another hour of play.


Peter Eichhardt, ladybug victim

But like the ladybugs that invade my house once a year, Torbey's bug could only survive for so long.

With barely enough chips to survive another orbit, Bonomo announced he'd likely play with any two cards. The table folded around to Torbey in the small blind who pushed all in against Bonomo's big blind. Bonomo happily flipped up A8s against Torbey's Q5. Bonomo made his ace on the turn and Torbey took his ladybug home.

Now, the players have to wait another 20 hours to play again. When they start under the TV lights tomorrow, the final table will look like this:

Seat 1--Mark Ristine, USA--251,000 (PokerStars online qualifier)
Seat 2--Peter Eichhardt, Sweden--202,000(PokerStars online qualifier)
Seat 3--Jeremy Tuckman, England--372,000
Seat 4--Brandon Schaefer, USA--691,000 (PokerStars online FPP qualifier)
Seat 5--Bob Coombes, England--163,000
Seat 6--Justin Bonomo, USA--124,000 (PokerStars online qualifier)
Seat 7--Carl Olson, USA--349,000(PokerStars online qualifier)
Seat 8--Luca Pagano, Italy--316,000

Good luck to all the players. We'll see everyone tomorrow night.

To the TV table we go...tomorrow.

Here's the final TV table heading into Saturday

Final Table

Seat 1--Mark Ristine, USA--251,000 (PokerStars online qualifier)
Seat 2--Peter Eichhardt, Sweden--202,000(PokerStars online qualifier)
Seat 3--Jeremy Tuckman, England--372,000
Seat 4--Brandon Schaefer, USA--691,000 (PokerStars online FPP qualifier)
Seat 5--Bob Coombes, England--163,000
Seat 6--Justin Bonomo, USA--124,000 (PokerStars online qualifier)
Seat 7--Carl Olson, USA--349,000(PokerStars online qualifier)
Seat 8--Luca Pagano, Italy--316,000

A full report is on the way. Payouts to the other finishers are below.

-----
Brutality.

It's like watching looped video of a child falling on his face or an old man kicking a dog. The chips have been moving around the final table like a volcanic glacier thaw. That is, fast and furious.

Former chip leader Peter Eichhardt has suffered beat after beat, one of them so terrifyingly ugly he had to call out for a glass of water. He is now one of the shortest stacks at the table.

One-time big-stack Justin Bonomo tried to steal a raise at the wrong time with 49s and ran into Luca Pagano who eventually made quad kings. Bonomo is still in but had his stack cut by 66%.

The Camel departed after pushing all in with 77 and getting a call from AJs. A jack on the flop ended The Camel's roll.

9500 Euro

9--Sami Torbey, France

5400 Euro

10--Keith "The Camel" Hawkins
11-Willie Tann
12-Mike "Lucky Blind" Lacey, Ireland (PokerStars online qualifier)

4500 Euro

13-Sam Orams, England
14--Peter Dalhuijsen, Holland
15--Jerome Zerbib, France

3600 Euro
16--Eric Vanderburg, Holland
17--Tony "Tikay" Kendall, England
18--Melanie Lofthouse, England

French Open Day 3 set to begin

For a period of one hour Thursday night, Bob Coombes was an English destroyer. Like a kid with a video game, he zapped opponents in every way. He did it with big cards. He did it with big draws. When the night crossed into early morning, Coombes sat as chip leader.


Bob Coombes

In just a few minutes, he the rest of the remaining 18 players will come back into this ballroom to battle down to the final eight.

Here's the line-up on this third day of play

Table 1
1--Keith "The Camel" Hawkins--191,500, England (PokerStars online qualifier)
2--Carl Olson, USA--87,500 (PokerStars online qualifier)
3--Eric Vanderburg, Holland--133,000
4--Brandon Schaefer, USA--205,000 (PokerStars online FPP qualifier)
5--Bob Coombes, England--345,000
6--Tony "Tikay" Kendall, England--55,500
7--Mike "Lucky Blind" Lacey--246,000 (PokerStars online qualifier)
8--Luca Pagano, Italy--138,000
9--Peter Eichhardt, Sweden--249,000 (PokerStars online qualifier)

Table 2
1--Peter Dalhuijsen, Holland--172,000
2--Justin Bonomo, USA--105,000 (PokerStars online qualifier)
3--Willie Tann--51,000
4--Mark Ristine, USA--52,000 (PokerStars online qualifier)
5--Jeremy Tuckman--60,000
6--Sami Torbey, France--91,000
7--Jerome Zerbib--99,000
8--Melanie Lofthouse, England--57,500
9--Sam Orams, England--134,500


Mike "Lucky Blind" Lacey (left) and Tony "Tikay" Kendall


Sam Orams (left) and Brandon Schaefer


Justin Bonomo and Melanie Lofthouse

As I type, EPT creator John Duthie is pacing through the ballroom in bath slippers as his crew sets the stage for the the final table. The dealers are counting out the final 18 players' chips. The players are behind two glass doors, eying the chip counts and tapping their feet.

This is such a fun moment. Some of the runners have stacks that teter on the edge of nothingness. Others control pyramids of yellow 1000 euro chips that threaten to tip over and crush the more dainty of dealers.

When we finish this afternoon, we will be left with eight players who will move over to Duthie's stage and play under the television lights.

I'm going to start making my way on the other side of the velvet ropes to get a good look at the tables.

I'll provide info on the unfortunate ten as they leave us.

French Open Day 2 Wrap-up--18 remain

There were high hopes that the French Open would wind down to eight players tonight. Alas, the play was too tough and there will be no day off for the players tomorrow.

Chip counts for the final 18 can be found at the end of this post. In the meantime, a brief recap of the day's events.

Desperation

"Someone call time," the player said. "Someone."

He had reached pleading and was on his way to begging. We'd been waiting for nearly five minutes for the bet to be called. What made the pleading all the more remarkable was that the pleader was the one who was making the decision. He begged someone to call the clock on him and no one would. One player flipped a chip like a coin, but since the chips look the same on both sides, it was no help.

Finally, the player pushed all-in and his opponent folded.

It was not the hand, but the sheer desperation that made the drama so rich. These times when we we're playing down to the final eight are lousy with high-drama and suspense that can break hearts as quickly as it shoots spirits as high as Deauville clouds.

It seemed as we reached 40 players that the tables were breaking and condensing faster than hands were being played. But the drama continued. Poker-playing writer Tony "Tikay" Kendall turned desperation into a money finish, doubling up with jacks versus chip-leading John Gale's pocket nines.


Tony "Tikay" Kendall

Shortly thereafter, PokerStars Frequent Player Point qualifier Brandon Schaefer rocketed toward the chip lead after calling with the two pair he made on the turn and river against his opponent's all-in king-high bluff. He woudn't hold the chip lead, but he would make it to Friday with a strong stack.


Brandon Schaefer

We were nearing the dinner break when we reached the bubble. I chronicled the hand a bit earlier in this fashion...

***


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
***

It was 10pm when the 27 remaining players returned from the dinner break. Some of them came back with full bellies, while others chose not to eat. I watched one player eat crackers from the bar while another stood in a corner, quietly bobbing his head to the music on his iPod. While all of the players knew they wouldn't leave the ornate ballroom empty-handed, they all knew that they had serious work to do if they wanted to make it to the big money.

The carnage started quickly with Finland's Mika Tapio getting all-in pre-flop against AK. Two kings on the flop ended Tapio's run.

England's Jeff Duvall who had held on to a strong stack for two days lost most of it one hand, getting all-in with QQ against countryman Bob Coombes aces. The loss didn't kill Duvall, but it crippled him and elevated Coombes to chip leader. A couple of hands later Duvall left in 27th place.

American Ezra Galston went out next in 26th, offering a hearty hello to his parents back home. Then, Denmark's Morten Sembach pushed in with AT on an 839 board and Bob Coombes called with, 67s. Coombes made his open-ender on the turn and sent Sembach home in 24th place.

Two Frenchmen left next. Jean-Pierre Petroli and Joseph Mrejen left in 23rd and 22nd respectively.

Fellow poker blogger Mike "Lucky Blind" Lacey hung on until just before the end of Level 16, then got all in with England's John Gale on a king-high flop. Lacey outkicked Gale's K6 with K9 and doubled up. It would not be the first time. By the end of the day he was in third chip position, just a few thousand off second place.


Mike "Lucky Blind" Lacey

Everyone's favorite nice guy busts out

John Gale had maintained a good lead most of the day, amassing a big chip stack and using it to his advantage. After getting involved in his last hand, he simply remarked, "That's poker."

With the big blind at 8000, Gale raised in early position with AQ to 20,000. Peter Eichhardt called the raise 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 Peter the hand and substantial chip-stack to Eichhardt.

Gale later said he felt like he made the right read and right play. Now, he's looking on to the EPT event in Vienna.

When the day ended, these were those we left behind, but with money in their pockets.

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

The final 18

It's a strong couple of tables leading into Friday. Here are the final chip-counts for the day.

Bob Coombes, England--345,000
Peter Eichhardt, Sweden--249,000 (PokerStars online qualifier)
Mike "Lucky Blind" Lacey--246,000 (PokerStars online qualifier)
Brandon Schaefer, USA--205,000 (PokerStars online FPP qualifier)
Keith "The Camel" Hawkins--191,500, England (PokerStars online qualifier)
Peter Dalhuijsen, Holland--172,000
Luca Pagano, Italy--138,000
Sam Orams, England--134,500
Eric Vanderburg, Holland--133,000
Justin Bonomo, USA--105,000 (PokerStars online qualifier)
Jerome Zerbib--99,000
Sami Torbey, France--91,000
Carl Olson, USA--87,500 (PokerStars online qualifier)
Jeremy Tuckman--60,000
Melanie Lofthouse, England--57,500
Tony "Tikay" Kendall, England--55,500
Mark Ristine, USA--52,000 (PokerStars online qualifier)
Willie Tann--51,000

Play starts at 2pm Friday, when we'll play down to the final eight.