Thursday, March 17, 2005

Chip counts going into final level of the day

Beginning the 600/1200/100 level, the final of the day, with 48 players remaining, here are some of the chip leaders:

Romain Feriolo: 100K
Rob Hollink: 95K
Mikhail Ustinov: 82K+
Scott Bush: 80K+
Willie Tann: 80K
John Fanning: 78K
Martin Knape: 75K+
Brandon Schaefer: 70K+
Jan H. 70K+
Robert Mizrachi: 68K+
Julian Gardner: 65K+
Gus Hansen: 60K
Isabelle Mercier: 50K+
Kevin Seeger: 50K
Anthony Lellouche: 48K+

Dinner in Monte Carlo

There were two different menus tonight. At the Café de Paris, there was roasted lamb, baked ham, ravioli Marsala, and a shrimp cous cous. I also had a nice strawberry tart.

In the poker room, the menu was a bit different. The appetizer was a ripe grapefruit. The salad was a one-outer. The main course was a mysterious Swede. I suspect those who feasted are now sitting somewhere with the top button of their trousers undone.

Andreas Harnemo (above, second from the right) a quiet man from a little place on the Artic Circle, seemed to be the man to beat. Fresh off a second place finish in Vienna. Harnemo rolled into today and collected chips like wild tourists during a seedy Las Vegas casino brawl. Somehow over the course of two levels, Harnemo created a mountain of chips 90,000 high. Ever the quiet, affable Swede, Harnemo sat quietly, using his chips and re-raises as daggers.

And then the waiters walked in and quiety announced the dinner menu. Apparently everyone was hungry for some Harnemo. French Open winner Brandon Schaefer flopped the nut straight against Harnemo. Jan Heitmann got all in with aces versus Harenmo's ace-king. It began a series of events that ultimately resulted in Harnemo breaking his silence, slamming his hand on the felt, and, yes, losing every one of his 90,000 in chips.

Now, Schaefer and Mikail Ustinov, who were both diners at the Cafe d'Andreas, have come together as chip leaders, each with more than 90,000. Schaefer cleansed his palate with a ripe grapefruit, which was apparently not an homage to Johnny Chan.

Table talk defined

If silence is golden, the featured table is no precious metal. In Europe, table talk is not all that common. In some cases, it just doesn't happen at all. So, at our new featured table, it's amazing the European sensibilities haven't combusted into something like the Sterno flames that keep the food warm.

The first ingredient is John Fanning, one of the Fannings behind the (in)famous music downloading service Napster. I feared for a few minutes Fanning may fall unconscious, as I didn't think he was breathing between sentences. Funny, it seemed, because of majority of conversations took place with the second ingredient Robert "Merci, Mama!" Cohen, a man who speaks little English.

A Frenchman standing near his table remarked with a smirk, "He doesn't speak French very well either." I'm pretty sure he was kidding.

But Cohen is a good player who can hold on to his small stack for hours on end.

If you add a sprinkle of Nathan Kelly to that mix, you have the recipe for a table so loud and gregarious, the words rumble all the way down the French coastline.

Because the table was made for TV, the EPT producers put the players on the featured table.

Steve Stolzmann, a Wisconsin firefighter who learned poker from his son, had fallen into a long run of folding. At one point Fanning looked up and said, "Steve, where are you from?"

"Wisconsin," Stolzmann replied.

"Do they ever raise in Wisconsin?" Fanning smirked.

"No," Stolzmann said dryly. "We only limp. And fold."

Just about the time I was thinking Stolzmann should've said, "We only raise dairy cows," Robert Cohen exclaimed, "Ssssssssh!"

The table looked up and Cohen nodded to Stolzmann. Cohen closed his eyes and rested his head on his hands in the international symbol for, "He's sleeping."

Who says you need to speak the same language to have a good laugh?

As I was recovering from my chortle, young Nathan Kelly jumped up and threw on his coat in disgust. He'd been steaming for the better part of an hour. Cohen had put him on tilt by raising and raising and raising.

Now, Kelly had pushed in the rest of his stack with a pair of sevens. Fanning had called with pocket eights.

The dealer laid out the turn as Kelly begged for a seven. It didn't come.

On the verge of full implosion, Kelly watched as the dealer laid out the turn...a seven.

Kelly reversed his implosion and exploded into his wireless mircophone, removing his coat and getting ready to sit. Then someone pointed out the four diamonds on the board. Fanning had the eight of diamonds.

Kelly pulled his coat over his head and begged for a club. When the dealer laid out a black rag, Kelly again fell into his chair, exhausted. He had held on again.

The funny thing...someone had mucked a seven. Kelly had a one-outer and hit it.

He yawned last night and today has found no chance to rest

When it came time for dinner, I rushed in the direction of the ravioli Marsala and found myself at dinner with Patrick "curzdog" Curzio. His fiancee, a fine young lady, was almost in the middle of an apoplectic fit. While she'd brought a book to read (The House of Sand and Fog, I noticed), she'd not read a page. Curzdog had been giving her a heart attack all day long. At one point he was down to just more than 1000 in chips. Just before dinner, he'd brought his stack back up to a respectable level, but gotten all in with Barny Boatman. Curzio held pocket queens. Boatman held pocket eights. The flop came down with an eight and Mrs-to-be Curzdog nearly died. Right there on the floor. It was only made worse (better, actually) when the dealer laid out a queen on the turn, giving curzdog the set-over-set win and rocketing him up to 25K in chips.

They both had wine with dinner (that's curz and his fiancee, not curz and Boatman)

Feel free to look below for chip counts from the dinner break. We've started back now with 57 players remaining. We'll play either two more levels or down to 27 players, whichever comes first.

Swedish apocolypse--Dinner break chip counts

How it happened is almost impossible to say. I'm not sure we'll ever hear the full story.

Andreas Harnemo, the man who held a comfortable chip lead just one hour ago...

has lost it all.

All. He's gone.

As the players get ready to head to dinner, here are some chip numbers to tide you over.

Mikail Ustinov: 90K+ (Thanks to Rolf from Poker Pages for the help on this one)
Brandon Schaefer: 90K+
Anthony Lellouche: 70K+
Willie Tann: 70K
Robert Mizrachi: 70K+
Isabelle Mercier: 50K+
Julian Gardner: 55K+
Scott Bush: 50K+
Jan H. 45K+
Ben Sprengers: 45K
Gus Hansen: 40K

Monte Carlo In-Game Chip Report Updated with Photos

Heading into the 300/600/75 level with 75 players remaining, here are some notable chip stacks.

Andreas Harnemo, 2nd place finisher at EPT Vienna event: 90K+
Markus Golser: 60K
Alex Jacob: 54K
Robert Mizrachi: 54K
Julian Gardner: 50K
Barney Boatman: 50K
John Fanning (of Napster fame): 50K
Anthony Lellouche: 50+ (he was much bigger but just doubled up Yalie Alex Jacob)
Isabelle Mercier: 45K
Ben Sprengers: 44K
Scott Bush: 43K
Alexander Stevic: 40K+
Jan H: 40K
Brandon Schaefer: 37K+
Marcel Luske: 35K

Murderer's Row, from left to right, Julian Gardner, Brandon Schaefer, Andreas Harnemo, and Barney Boatman

John Fanning, one of the brains behind Napster, builds a stack on a table so talkative it became the featured table during the break

Isabelle Mercier, playing good cards and collecting chips

After riding a smaller stack most of the afternoon, Marcel Luske won a big pot just before the break to bring his stack up over 35K

Johnny Chan may have his trademark orange, but Brandon Schaefer has his grapefruit

Monte Carlo Featured Table Action

I try my best to avoid rampant expression of opinion here. Still, I feel compelled to point this out from the beginning of this post:

Reality TV sucks eggs. Hard boiled eggs.

That is, with one exception. That exception sits just a few feet from my workstation.

There is nothing egg-sucking about televised poker.

Each day, the EPT is featuring one table. Today, it has been exceptionally fun to watch.

It began with Gus "The Great Dane" Hansen, the radiant Cecilia Nordenstam, and "Friends of Bloggers" Patrick "curzdog" Curzio and Scott Bush, Mads Andersen, Luis Jaikel, Kirill Garasimov, and Martin Vallo.

Hansen, a man who can play just about any two cards to success, threatened to be quite a foe.

Nordenstam, despite her disarming beauty, is not one with whom to trifle.

While the action around the room has been very good so far, I decided to sit and watch the featured table for a bit. Patrick "curzdog" Curzio came to the featured table with one of the smaller stacks and looked to double up as early as he could. The players folded around to curzdog in the small blind. When he threw out a raise, I read him for a steal. The bet was just big enough to be fishy. Little did I or his opponent in the big blind realize, that was exactly what curzdog wanted everyone to think. His opponent came over the top all in. Curzio had him covered and immediately called, showing pocket aces. The big blind had KQ and never improved.

Patrick "curzdog" Curzio (left)

The story of the featured table so far has been Scott Bush. The Frequent Player Point qualifier came to the table with just more than 22,000 in chips. While he rarely plays weakly, I expected him to shrink a bit in the face of Gus Hansen. Again, I'm learning to stop expecting things. Bush did the exact opposite, raising and re-raising Hansen at almost every opportunity. Only once in the first level did I see Bush lay down a hand to a Hansen bet, and that was to a check-raise on a raggedy board. On the last hand of the last level, Bush showed down queens on a jack-high board for another big win. Bush is now nearing 40,000 in chips with the blinds at 300/600/75.

Scott Bush

Of course, there is other action around the room. Alexander Stevic, the champion of the EPT Barcelona event, began the day as chip leader with nearly 49,000 in chips. At the first break, he had about the same amount.

Alexander Stevic

In other news, French Open winner Brandon Schaefer has moved up to more than 40,000 in chips. EPT Vienna second place finisher Andreas Harenmo has built up a nice stack as well. Blogger Ben "Milky Bar Kid" Grundy had doubled up twice, taking his small stack and turning it into 20,000 in the first level of the day. And at last report, Isabelle Mercier had turned her 17,000 Day 2 starting stack into 45,000.

I'm out in search of big-stack play.

Monte Carlo Grand Final Day 2 begins

As I walked up the stairs to this ballroom, players were rushing in and out, changing their clothes, and wiping sweat from their brow. Just a few minutes into the day and already there is stuff about which to talk.

Young American Justin Bonomo, already on the shortstack, had the displeasure of drawing the big blind on the first hand today. He pushed in the rest of his chips and his time was done. It also appears that Russian Tennis Star Yevgeni Kafelnikov has departed early in the day.

The TV producers have picked a fine and diverse featured table. Gus "The Great Dane" Hansen, the radiant Cecilia Nordenstam, and "Friends of Bloggers" Patrick "Curzdog" Curzio and Scott Bush are four of the eight at the table. Mads Andersen, Luis Jaikel, Kirill Garasimov, and Martin Vallo round out the list.

The main room is dim for TV purposes and both rooms are hot. Suddenly I find myself glad I wore a short-sleeved, stinky shirt this afternoon.

Monte Carlo Day One Wrap-up and Chip Counts

Maybe it was the burning TV lights. Maybe it was the skulking anxiety. Maybe it was my imagination. Whatever it was, it seemed someone sucked the oxygen out of the room and left us all holding our breaths for the entire day. As early morning threatens to become sunrise, it's diffcult to comprehend that we just spent twelve hours in the middle of a poker tournament with a history-making €2.11 million prize pool. In these hours, in a perfectly oxygenated hotel room, it almost seems a dream, like something you might watch on TV.

In fact, this day began in front of TV camera. Here at the EPT Monte Carlo Grand Final, a €10,000 buy-in event, the EPT television crew brought in its gear and introduced the television series to a daily featured table.

It began with familiar faces. 2004 WSOP champion Greg Raymer sat next to the vocal Tony G. The Russian tennis star Yevgeni Kafelnikov increased the star power. It was a place where even champions couldn't survive for long. Frequent Player Point qualifier John Withers sat in the one-seat and had been having a rollercoaster day. His zenith arrived in the form of a pair of jacks. He got all-in with them and ran squarely into Raymer's aces. For Withers, though, luck came a'callin' and flopped him a jack. The beat didn't bust Raymer, but it hurt him. Shortly after the dinner break, Raymer bid goodbye to his tablemates.

If Raymer left with a feather in his cap, it was this: he outlasted the other WSOP Main Event bracelet-holder. 2003 champion Chris Moneymaker didn't last through the second level. A tablemate told me Moneymaker flopped the dummy end of a straight on an all-spade board. Though Moneymaker had a spade, it was only an eight. He went to war with his only opponent and ended up all in, finding himself up against the ace-high flush. He left the room quickly and left the larger-than-life posters of his own face behind him.

It was a day when the room would ride on a quiet murmur for hours, only to be shocked to life by the occasional primal scream. The first one that shook me from my chair came from the mouth of Italian Luca Pagano. All-in pre-flop with aces, he had his opponent, FPP qualifier Daniel Tierny, dominated. Tierney held kings. Like a child's balloon with an untied end, Pagano's hopes spluttered invisibly into the ether as the dealer laid out an AQTJ to give Tierney the Broadway straight. Pagano stood with uncontrolled yell and stalked the room like a lion that's just been shot with a too-small bullet. He still had chips and paced around the room until it was his turn to act again. He finished the day with a few chips and a much calmer demeanor.

Luca Pagano

Now, understand, I play a lot of cards. It takes quite a bit to give me the willies. And yet, somehow I actually found myself shaking a little bit after watching the following hand which I chronicled a little bit earlier.

I walked up on what might've been Brandon Schaefer's last stand. When I arrived, four community cards sat on the table. Several thousand euro sat in the pot and Hendon Mobster Ross Boatman had just pushed in the rest of his stack after a significant bet from Schaefer. Schaefer fell into agony. The board was king-high with rags accompanying the painted card. It was obvious that Schaefer, in early position, felt that Boatman, on the button, had either made two pair or a set. Schaefer made to muck his cards a couple of times, then counted out his stack again. Three times he held his cards in the air in front of his eyes and winced. He asked how much Boatman had left and then winced again after seeing Boatman had him covered. Just watching the hand, I fell into a slight shaking fit. Just when I thought Schaefer was going to give up, he said, "I'm not good enough to fold. I call." He pushed in the rest of his chips and flipped over two aces. Suddenly deflated, Boatman turned over K4 for top pair, weak kicker. The river didn't help Boatman, and Schaefer, who wasn't good enough to fold, took almost all of Boatman's chips and doubled up.

Ever-smiling, ever-winning, Brandon Shaefer

Schaefer and his buddy Carl Olson surprised everyone by taking first and second at the EPT French Open in Deauville last month. While Schaefer finished the day with a healthy number of chips, Olson couldn't get rolling today and will have to be happy watching his friend from the rail.

And the rail is a crowded place. Swede Mikael Westerlund, who made final tables at the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure and EPT Scandinavian Open, busted out very early. EPT Vienna champ Pascal Perrault soon followed, as did Hendon Mobster Ram Vaswani. Devilfish lasted a bit longer, but in the end, couldn't survive until Day 2. More than 80 people wil spend the rest of their time in Monte Carlo enjoying the sights.

Pacal Perrault, no back-to-back EPT wins

Still, 121 players remain, some famous, some not. Each has their own story and whoever finally wins this thing will make it interesting. Here are a few shots and captions to help bring the morning home.

Danny Ashman, a young gun from Massachusetts, USA walked up to me before the final level and declared, "I'm going to win this tournament." He convinced me that it would make me seem much smarter if I predicted now that he would finish well. Convinced enough by his respectable chip stack, I took this picture and filed it away. Later, he got moved to then-chipleader Barney Boatman's table. On one memorable hand, Boatman turned a straight with T8 on a 99JQ board. He bet into Ashman who flat called. The river was a seemingly harmless deuce. Ashman put out a very callable bet and Boatman happily called with his straight. Ashman turned up 92 for the rivered boat and took down a very nice-sized pot. Maybe young Ashman was right.

Andreas Harnemo took second place in Vienna and has survived into Day 2 here at the Grand Final

The Great Dane, Gus Hansen, has been playing his game here in Monte Carlo to a little success, but not enough to make him a dominating force...yet

FOB (Friend of Bloggers) Scott Bush does his buddies proud by taking a respectable stack into the second day

Robert Mizrachi

Ben Sprengers, one of, if not the youngest player in the Grand Final. The young gun also cashed at at the PCA earlier this year

Barney, the surviving Boatman

After playing ten pots heads up with Gus Hansen and not faring well on many of them, student Nathan Kelly mumbled, "I'm exhausted."

If you don't feel like scrolling down through the rest of the posts (which frankly, I suggest you do), here are some details of where we go from here.

We'll be going into Level 6 tomorrow (200/400). One hundred twenty-one players remain. We'll likely play down to near 27 players on Thursday. The top 27 get paid. The final table will get paid the following amounts:

Final Table Prize Money

1) €635,000
2) €350,000
3) €178,000
4) €139,000
5) €118,000
6) €99,500
7) €79,500
8) €59,900

Here are the final chip counts, with many thanks to Tournament Director Thomas Kremser and his hard working staff:

1 Stevic Alexander 48,950
2 Boatman Barney 43,125
3 Benyamine David 41,700
4 Bruel Patrick 40,300
5 Knape Martin 40,275
6 Wilder Brent 38,975
7 Fanning John 38,900
8 Harnemo Andreas 38,750
9 Ashman Danny 37,625
10 Golser Markus 36,900
11 Shipley John 35,350
12 Lellouche Antony 35,275
13 Mizrachi Robert 35,050
14 Jacob Alex 33,850
15 Seeger Kevin 33,075
16 Andersen Mads 32,625
17 Jensen Morten 32,400
18 Senn Jonathan 31,275
19 Marciano Elie 30,850
20 Mustanoglu Osman 29,200
21 Grundtvig Christian 28,825
22 Schaefer Brandon 28,725
23 Gardner Julian 27,425
24 Guoga Antanas ("Tony G.")26,150
25 Heitmann Jan 25,925
26 Sprengers Benjamin 25,625
27 Sointula Jani 25,325
28 Atlani Maurice 24,925
29 Simms Gavin 24,650
30 Sonnert Bengt 24,175
31 Ovadia Ofer 24,150
32 Bush Dennis Scott 22,675
33 Fitzpatrick Harry 22,625
34 Nowab Simon 22,600
35 Tann Willie 22,050
36 O'Dea Eoghan 21,300
37 Ustinov Mikhail 21,100
38 Persson Tobias 20,750
39 Moran Brandon 20,400
40 Abecassis Michael 19,825
41 Harwood Joel 19,700
42 Walters Ryan 19,600
43 Bush Garry 19,250
44 Serjak Greg 18,950
45 Kabbaj John 18,800
46 Nathanael Kelly 18,550
47 Stolzmann Steve 18,400
48 Terranova Henry 18,275
49 Feriolo Romain 18,125
50 Grech Joseph 17,675
51 Mercier Isabelle 17,550
52 Hansen Gus 17,350
53 Jaikel Luis 17,225
54 Tiezney Daniel 17,200
55 Salmi Pekka 16,700
56 DeKnijff Martin 16,350
57 Quesada Manrique 16,175
58 Kollmann Erich 16,125
59 Figlesthaler Matthew 16,025
60 Gerasimov Kirill 15,850
61 Novak Istvan 15,850
62 Cohen Robert 15,275
63 Luske Marcel 15,250
64 Brown Andrew 15,025
65 Katchalov Eugene 14,300
66 Nagy Jonathan 14,300
67 Clarke Will 14,150
68 Chung Peter 13,400
69 Haddad Gilles 13,075
70 Betson Alan 13,025
71 Gould Peter 12,700
72 Nordenstam Cecilia 12,450
73 Jensen Brian 12,150
74 Koppel Eric 12,000
75 Thew Julian 11,850
76 Laszcz Xavier 11,550
77 Portano Desmondo 11,250
78 Tuft Tom 10,950
79 Kallakis M. Achilleas 10,925
80 O'Connel Kevin 10,750
81 Chow Howard 10,500
82 Lloyd David J. 10,450
83 Mistereggen Eirik 10,100
84 Hollink Rob 10,000
85 Gunnarson Peter 9,850
86 Ygborn Carl 9,825
87 Luber Michael 9,700
88 Edler William 9,625
89 Lennaárd Ken 9,600
90 Blanco Angel 9,550
91 Van der Burg Eric 8,950
92 Hony Ilya 8,750
93 Persson John 8,300
94 Vallo Martin 8,275
95 Curzio Patrick 8,000
96 Wendt Martin 7,975
97 Olsen Henrik 7,750
98 Boeken Noah 7,650
99 Sokalsk Vincent 7,575
100 Massoudnia Yousef 7,350
101 Adkins Sammy 6,850
102 Barker Declan 6,525
103 Boaz Lavie 6,475
104 Sukhotin Sergey 6,175
105 Wong Roland 6,125
106 Abdulaziz Abdulaziz 5,950
107 Pagano Luca 5,950
108 Bolliger Mark 5,900
109 Grundy Ben 5,800
110 Kafelnikov Yevgeni 5,475
111 Vladar Steve 5,325
112 Lerch Bruce 4,600
113 Sharma Rani D. 4,425
114 McNamara Niall 4,300
115 Pichee Andrew 4,125
116 Bonomo Justin 3,975
117 Cawley Russell 3,550
118 Arvidsson Björn 3,450
119 Segal Martin 3,050
120 Aaron Jeff 2,725
121 Wachter John 1,700