Friday, March 18, 2005

Monte Carlo Grand Final Day Three Wrap-up with results

Earlier in the day, Brandon Schefer said to me, "I'm living a charmed existence."

Whether it is charm or an inborn skill, the young man from Seattle Washington is on his way to writing a very, very good story.

Just a few weeks ago, he had no plans to play on the European Poker Tour. He won a seat for free on to the French Open just so he could go play with his buddy, Carl Olson. He and Olson provided the French Open crowd with quite a story by placing first and second. They both won seats to this event and now Schaefer has made the final table again and comes in as the chip leader.

Brandon Schaefer

The hour now grows quite late. We've just put in three 12-13 hour days of poker. Now, only eight are still alive.

Final Table

Seat 1: Romain Feriolo 475,000
Seat 2: Alex Stevic 57,500
Seat 3: Abdulaziz Abdulaziz 181,000
Seat 4: Ben Grundy 90,500
Seat 5: Kevin Seeger 364,500
Seat 6: Mikhail Ustinov 68,500
Seat 7: Brandon Scahefer 488,500
Seat 8: Rob Hollink 384,000

The Frenchman who now lives in Spain, playing in his first live tourney

Abdulaziz, the 19 year-old student who apparently had to pull the wool over his mom's eyes to come here. He also won his seat on and ended up chopping the pot with the co-winner. His opponent took the cash, Abdulaziz took the seat. Guess who got the better deal?

A fellow blogger, Ben Grundy struggled to stay alive all day but picked the right spots and made the TV table

Kevin Seeger, the man behind the chips. Ask him how he feels, he almost always responds with gusto, "I feel GOOD. I feel STRONG."

Mikhail Ustinov, the quiet Russian

Brandon Schaefer

Alex Stevic, winner of the EPT Barcelona event, told his lovely lady Cecilia if he made the final table, he was taking her on a shopping spree. Cecilia, get out the Mastercard

Rob Hollink, right, next to the dearly departed 9th place finisher,Jani Sointula

Now, they play for money that is hard to view as insignficant.


1st: €635,000
2nd: €350,000
3rd: €178,000
4th: €139,000
5th: €118,000
6th: €99,500
7th: €79,500
8th: €59,500

If you think your heart, and, yes, your soul can handle it, let's take a quick ride through the day.

Possibly Potential?

There's a guy in the U.S. they call the Blogfather. He often borrows a catchphrase from a certain Zeppelin catastophe which I couldn't help but re-borrow all day today.

"Oh, the humanity."

It's all I could think as I watched hopes and Monte Carlo dreams dashed like Buddhist sand sculpture built in playground sandbox.

Perhaps it is the players' potential that made this day such a hard one to watch. As the beginning of the day, the 38 players who started each had the potential to leave with money in their pockets. Sure, some players' potential was greater than others. But, that's not the point. Nearly all of the players controlled some portion of their destiny. In the end, 30 of them left this room without a chance to take the championship. For some of them, it happened at their own hand. For others, the cruelest of Fates stepped in and robbed them of their chance at greatness.

No full house, but we better have a boat, because we're about to go to the river

The Fates were ugly to the likes of young Nate Kelly. The poor kid flopped the nut straight only to face running cards that sent him home in 31st place, just four out of the money.

Nate Kelly, no money but a great bad beat story to tell

The Fates played games with The Flying Dutchman Marcel Luske's heart. Facing two flat callers, Isabelle Mercier raised from the small blind. Finding AQs in the big blind, Luske moved over the top for all his chips. Mercier called. Luske showed his cards and Mercier flipped over QQ. The flop came down 689, leaving Luske with an overcard. The turn gave him his ace and a flush draw. It left Mercier with only one out. That out, the queen of diamonds, came on the river. It sent Luske out before we reached the money.

The Flying Dutchman, Marcel Luske

Queen Isabelle Mecier

The queen of this room lived by the queen and nearly died by the queen a moment later (thanks to fellow blogger Mean Gene for the thought). With the blinds at 1000/2000, Mercier raised to more than 6000. Brandon Schaefer flat called from the big blind. The flop came down with two clubs. Mercier made a pot-sized bet and Schaefer came over the top for the rest of his chips. Mercier called. Schaefer showed KQ in clubs for a club draw. Mercier turned over aces with the ace of clubs. The turn and river came running queens to give Schaefer trips. From across the room, railbirds thought Schaefer had lost he hand. He appeared crestfallen. He later explained the look on his face was excited relief. He also said he felt a little bad for laying such a tough beat on Mercier. Nontheless, Schaefer said he couldn't have played the hand any differently. With a little shrug, Schaefer admitted, "I'm living a charmed existence."

Brandon "I'm Not Good Enough to Fold" Schaefer

Others would not be so charmed. Enter Willie Tann.

The Bubble: Who needs a river when you have a turn

With only 28 players remaining (27th gets paid, 28th gets nothing), Willie Tann raised an uncalled pot from the small blind with KT. Rob Hollink, chip leader at the time, called from the big blind. The flop came down ten-high with two diamonds. Tann, who still had nearly 100,000 in chips, bet out. Hollink flat called. The turn was the five of diamonds. This time Tann checked-called a Hollink bet. The river, as it turns out, was irrelevant. Willie check-called Hollink's all-in bet. Hollink showed T5 for a flopped top pair and turned two-pair. Tann's KT was no good and he left on the bubble.

Willie Tann, drinking a bubbly drink as he bubbles out of the Grand Final

Later, in an interview, Tann said, "I feel very miserable." He sulked around the room for some time, before sitting down at an empty table behind Hollink. Hollink overheard Tann telling the story of his exit to a young lady. Hollink turned around.

"Willie," Hollink said, "I really think you made a big mistake."

"Mistake?" Tann was indignant.

"Raising the chip leader out of position with king-ten..." Hollink mused.

Tann, still miffed, mumbled, "Yah, you're the best player. Forget it."

The Grind

Once we reached the money, the grind began. The small stacks battled to stay alive, and the big stacks (and sometimmes a good stroke of luck) obliged.

Abdulaziz doubled up after Gus Hansen called his KQs all in bet with 89c. Hansen later gave the rest of his stack to Martin Wendt after jacks couldn't hold up against AK.

Ben Grundy doubled up after getting all-in with AQ versus Martin Wendt's KK. Grundy flopped two pair for the win.

Jani Sointula survived as well with A9 of hearts when he made a flush against Kevin Seegers pair of tens.

Moments later, Abdulaziz raised the 6000 big blind to 25,000 and Julian Gardner came over the top all in with JJ. Abdulaziz held aces and those aces held up, crippling Gardner. Gardner left shortly thereafter.

The beat of the night came from the hands of Kevin Seegers. With a very nice-sized stack, he somehow got all in with KQ of hearts versus Martin Wendt's AK. The flop couldn't have been more powerful. It came down all hearts, crippling Wendt and ruining his chances at a good finish.

A little side action

A funny thing happened on the way to eight players. At these festivals, players can essentially call their own Sit&Go tournaments. It gets sort of fun. Throughout this night I heard calls for everything. Omaha-8, Seven Stud Eight or Better, you name it. And we wound down to 11 players, I heard that a a crowd formed in an anteroom, where ten players say down for a €5000 No-Limit Hold'em Sit&Go. The winner of that tournament would end up getting more than the 12th place finisher in the Grand Final. oward the end of the night, John Fanning, Greg Raymer, and Marcel Luske ended up in a €1000 Sit&Go together. That's one thing about poker players: give them a deck of cards and they'll create the action in a vacuum.

Action in the anteroom, the final table of the €1000 event

After a quick look, I wandered back to the Main Event where the tough beats continued. After that, it was dfficult to watch much more. While I watched almost every card, I won't subject you to all of it.

Suffice it to say, when we reached the final ten, I was sitting behind Isabelle Mercier. She had hung on and hung on, doubling through when necessary. With her lipstick sitting next to her chipstack, she sighed. She looked exhausted.

"Can I get you something?" I asked. "Dou you need anything?"

She looked around for a second, smiled, then laughed.

"I double up a couple more times. I need...chips." She laughed again and headed toward the final table.

That's what keeps me going during these marathon events. After 36 hours of poker over three days, when asked if they need anything, these people only want one thing.

They want to win.

Moments later, Mercier got all-in with the best hand AJ versus AT.

Her opponent rivered a runner-runner flush and she was gone. Later she wandered by with the look of 36 absent hours in her eye. She apologized as if a runner-runner flush wqas her fault.

When she softly stepped away, she whispered, "Next time..."

A little while later, we lost the last player of the day. This is how it ended up.


9th--Jani Sointula


10th--Isabelle Mercier, Canada
11th--Michael Luber (The Anvil), USA ( FPP qualifier)
12th--Anthony Lellouche


13th--Martin Knape
14th--Martin Wendt (Svend sværd), Denmark, ( FPP qualifier)
15th--Julian Gardner (MrCoco), Great Britain, ( FPP qualifier)

16th--Gus Hansen, Denmark
17th--Scott Bush (Shrubluv), USA, ( FPP qualifier)
18th--Eugene Katchalov


19th--Jonathan Senn (holdem2000), USA ( cash qualifier)
20th--Kevin O'Connell
21st--John Fanning, USA
22nd--Martin DeKnijff, Sweden
23rd--Barny Boatman, G.B.
24th--Declan Barker (Hitecdeck), Ireland( cash qualifier)
25th--Harry Fitzpatrick (Surrey Rock), ( cash qualifier)
26th--Ben Sprengers (-BBJ-), USA ( cash qualifier)
27th--Ryan Walters (bbaced), Canada, ( Frequent Player Point qualifier)

We begin the final table tomorrow at 5pm. The current plan is to live blog it hand-by-hand. See you then.

In the money--Willie Tann busts on the bubble

Willie Tann just lost the rest of his chips to Dutch chip collector Rob Hollink.
In a fairly confusing hand, both players got all in on the river. With a diamond draw on the board, Tann called Hollink's all-in bet with top-pair, king kicker with KT. Hollink turned over two pair T5. Wilie had been ahead on the flop, but fell behind when Hollink made his two pair on the turn.

We are now in the money. (Declan Barker just asked me to send word home to the family that he has made the money, so...there.)

Mercier busts Marcel and other wild action

Marcel Luske just busted out int 30th place. Isabelle Mercier sat in the small blind and faced two flat calls. Mercier raised and Luske came over the top all-in from the big blind. The two limpers folded and Mercier called. Luske showed AQ, Mercier showed QQ. The flop came down 689. Mercier was ahead, but Luske had an overcard and flush draw. Then an ace came on the turn putting Marcel ahead and leaving Mercier with only one out. That out, the queen of diamonds, came on the river and Luske was gone.

Edited (this was worse than I thought): Then, moments later, with the blinds at 1000/2000, Mercier raised to more than 6000 and Brandon Schaefer flat called. The flop came down with two clubs. Mercier made a pot-sized bet and Schaefer came over the top for the rest of his chips. Mercier called. Schaefer showed KQ in clubs for a club draw. Mercier turned over aces with the ace of clubs. The turn and river came running queens to give Schaefer trips. Schaefer has now rocketed to near 100K in chips and Mercier's stack has been significantly reduced. Schaefer's face tells the story if a man who feels almost guilty. "I'm living a charmed existence."

In other news, Robert Mizrachi has made a surprise exit, apparently losing all his chips to Kevin O'Connell. O'Connell ended up most of those chips to Rob Hollink when Hollink's AK beat O'Connell's QQ.

Lastly, Nate Kelly, the tenacious young American has lost his bid to money here in Monte Carlo.

We're on the bubble.

Day Three Insta-Photo Gallery

We are just six players away from the money and now comes the point where people cling to life, the callousses on their fingers (earned from days of riffling chips) are scraping against the ledge that divides the money line.

Today will likely be a series of smaller posts once we hit the money, so keep your eyes open. Here's something to keep your eyes entertained until we reach that point.

Kevin Seeger, chip leader

Day 3 Featured table

Marcel Luske at the featured table

Isabelle Mercier

Frequent Player Point qualifier Scott Bush, again at the featured table

Brandon Schaefer, ever-smiling, brought another grapefruit with him today

Declan Barker

American Nate Kelly hangs on. He's doubled up twice today to make it closer to the money

Robert Mizrachi

Monte Carlo Day 3 Underway

We've hard a series of technical difficulties this morning and are off to a slow start. We have lost a few players at the start. I'll be back shortly with some introductory words and a status report. We'll be in the money shortly.

Monte Carlo Day 2 Wrap-up and Chip Counts

I've been playing poker for about as long as I can remember. My dad taught me the game with a deck of Bicycle cards and some plastic Hoyle chips. The game is not just a part of my life. It's a way of life.

What makes that a little spooky is that I've come to realize recently that I'm so incredibly, obliteratingly frightened of the game's cruel, cruel ways that I can't walk into a cardroom without wanting to crawl into a French maid's arms and suck my thumb.

Perhaps, I'm overstating it a bit. Nonetheless, this can be a cruel, frustrating game. I think, maybe, Marcel Luske said it better and without invoking French maids. After getting dealt a string of rags, Luske beseeched a new dealer, "At least give me two good cards. I don't have to play them. Just give me two good cards."

He stopped for a moment, considering the possibility, his bright red tie still perfectly tied. "Give me king-queen suited," he said. "I'll be happy. At least I'll have a picture to look at."

Marcel Luske

Maybe it was late night delirium speaking, but I got his point. He'd been hovering on a medium to small stack all day long. Later, I stood watching over his shoulder. Facing having to call just half a bet in the small blind, he looked over his shoulder at me and jumped as if I were the ghost of his long-dead grandmother. He then promptly turned around and folded with force.

"Did I scare you out of it," I asked.

"No," he said, then paused. "I scared myself."

That, folks, is how fear works in a cardroom. It comes out of nowhere. In one moment you can be leaning back in your chair, laughing it up with the fellas, and sipping on a cool Evian from a glass bottle. The next moment you can feel the sweat in the small of your back every time you move because something in the room shifted and half of your chips just slid to the other side of the table.

The greatest and saddest example came in the form of Andreas Harnemo, second place finisher at the EPT's Vienna event.

Andreas Harnemo with 90,000 in chips, second from right

I considered re-writing this, but I think this portion of an earlier post sums it up best.

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.

From there it seemed Brandon Schaefer would have more trouble getting the grapefruit juice off his hands than making it into the money. He stepped onto the featured table with around 90,000 in chips. Before he knew it, he got involved in a hand with one of the tightest players in the tournament, Steve Stolzmann. The exact details of the hand, in the end, are fairly irrelevant. Suffice it to say, Stolzmann got all in after the flop with Schaefer. By the river, Stolzmann had made a straight flush. He used Schaefer's chips to cruise into Day 3.

Steve Stolzmann, center

Schaefer surived, but over the course of the next couple of hours ended up falling down below 40,000 in chips. When I left the cardroom, he was checking his e-mail on a laptop that features some beautiful French woman on the desktop. His computer got more attention than the game at some points.

The talk of the day, for a great while, were the people doing all the talking. Here's another brief snippet from the dinner break post:

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.

Nate Kelly

Cohen didn't make it to tomorrow. Kelly survived with just a little more than 6000 in chips. Fanning...well, Fanning had a bit of an issue on one of the last hands of the night.

I was away from his table monitoring another hand when a railbird ran up and said, "Did you see that? The Napster guy just pushed all in with pocket threes." As it turned out, Fanning had done so after the flop with three overcards on the board. His opponent had the biggest overcards of all...two aces in the hole. Fanning who had spent the entire day building a stack fell back to average just before we broke for the night.

John Fanning

Fanning was not the only one to face aces. The vacant seat Fanning filled at one point belonged to a young man named Jan who labored forever over all all-in call from Rob Hollink. When Jan finally called the queen-high board for almost all his chips, Hollink turned up aces.

Jan, socked by aces

Hollink, who crippled two players in twenty minutes, picking up pocket aces twice in the same level

And then there was a Friend of Bloggers, Patrick "Curzdog" Curzio who battled all day long to keep his chipstack fresh. Twice in ten minutes he ran into Declan Barker. Twice in ten minutes Barker had aces. It's not hard to figure out how Barker makes it into Day 3 and Curzdog will have to watch from the rail.


At the end of the day, several players had stormed toward the top. Robert Mizrachi won a huge hand at the end of the night to move him into third chip position. Kevin Seeger won several big hands to go into tomorrow with the lead. FPP qualifier Scott Bush battled steadily all day long to work his way toward the top. And there were others.

Willie Tann, 8th in chips

Isabelle Mercier, 12th in chips

Thirty-eight players remain as we head into tomorrow's Level 11 (750/1500/150). It is still anybody's game. Play resumes at 2pm Monte Carlo time.

Day Two Chip Count

1-Kevin Seeger 147,100
2-Rob Hollink 139,500
3-Robert Mizrachi 117,500
4-Romain Ferilio 103,100
5-Julian Gardner 98,800
6-Scott Bush 95,800
7-Jani Sointula 79,900
8-Willie Tann 78,100
9-Martin Wendt 73,100
10-Mikhail Ustinov 70,900
11-Martin Knape 70,800
12-Isabelle Mercier 70,000
13-Alexander Stevic 66,500
14-Kevin O'Connell 63200
15-John Fanning 58,000
16-Anthony Lellouche 57,100
17-Martin DeKnijff 56,100
18-Eugene Katchalov 54,400
19-Micheael Luber 48,700
20-Markus Golser 45,400
21-Ben Sprengers 45,100
22-Eric Misterzegger 40,600
23-Abdulaziz Abdulaziz 40,100
24-Harry Fitzpatrick 38,900
25-Declan Barker 38,200
26-Ben Grundy 37,600
27-Brandon Schaefer 36,000
28-Barny Boatman 34,300
29-Jonathon Senn 32,700
30-Steve Stolzmann 27,800
31-Ryan Walters 26,400
32-Morten Jensen 26,100
33-Gus Hansen 23,000
34-Marcel Luske 19,300
35-Joseph Grech 14,000
36-Howard Chow 11,800
37-Henry Terranova 11,700
38-Nate Kelly 6,600