Fifty percent of the starting field here in Deauville were French. Of the 48 players who have cashed so far at Casino Barriere this week, 21 grew up beneath le tricolore. And tomorrow’s final table, which begins in Normandy at 2pm, will feature eight players. Five of them, you guessed it, are French.
The steady progression through this monster field at least tells us what they’ve been up to during the three-year absence of the European Poker Tour from these shores.
Gallic poker is booming, and the new poster boy this time tomorrow – alongside the likes of Betrand Grospellier and David Benyamine, of course – might turn out to be a 19-year-old by the name of Tristan Clemencon. He is carrying 1,731,000 chips to tomorrow’s final table, and is an impressive chip leader.
Clemencon made one call in particular today, with pocket queens against Bruno Haddad’s gutsy all-in with pocket jacks, after he saw a bead of sweat developing on Haddad’s temple. It pays to keep a close eye on your opponents.
Alongside Clemencon tomorrow will be his countrymen Bruno Launais, Arnaud Esquevin, Thomas Delattre and Jonathan Azoulay.
They outlasted the more-celebrated likes of Michel Abecassis and Vikash Dhorasoo, who departed today, and other luminaries such as Arnaud Mattern, Antony Lellouche, Nicolas Levi, Pascal Perrault and Thomas Fougeron, who were early fallers.
That we can go this far without mentioning a player from another country speaks volumes. But we can’t get any further because of one man: Moritz Kranich, the 28-year-old online phenom from Hamburg, Germany, who has been doing his bit near the summit of the chip ladder all week.
Kranich, who earned his seat in Deauville as his PokerStars alter ego “cattenacio”, was the first through the million chip barrier today and stayed there until he bagged 1,434,000 at the close.
Andrea Benelli, making his second final table appearance of the season, is also in with a big shout tomorrow. He has 1,195,000 and is clearly in form after finishing seventh in Warsaw and 36th in London the month before that.
Jorn Walthaus, a 25-year-old PokerStars qualifier from Amsterdam, meanwhile, is keeping the Dutch hopes alive.
That, then, is our final table. And there is no place around it for the likes of David “Devilfish” Ulliott, Ivo Donev or Mika Paasonen, all veterans of the EPT but unable to make it into day four. A full list of those players in the money can be found on the prizewinner’s page.
Take a look back at any of today’s action with this selection of these somewhat predictably titled links (except the first one, which is just inaccurate):
Tomorrow’s final table begins at 2pm and you’ll be able to watch extended highlights tomorrow night. Full details will be available on EPT.com.
If you can’t wait that long, there are countless video blogs from Deauville and beyond on PokerStars.tv.
For now, though, that’s bon soir from Deauville. We’ve weighed anchor.
All images © Neil Stoddart.