EPT Deauville: Confessions of Le Dangereux’s Mind

January 20, 2009

Following the naming conventions of the likes of “Being John Malkovich” or “Forgetting Sarah Marshall”, a blockbuster poker film might one day be released entitled “Goading Phil Hellmuth”.

At last summer’s World Series, the Romanian Cristian Dragomir staked his claim as leading man with some fraught feature-table shenanigans against the poker brat that became a YouTube and internet forum sensation. But if Dragomir would be played by Brad Pitt, George Clooney gets the gig as Robert Cohen. The Frenchman known as “Le Dangereux” was winding up Hellmuth to the delight of the masses back in 2001 as a player on “Late Night Poker” on Britain’s Channel Four.

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Robert “Le Dangereux” Cohen

Hellmuth was defending champion of the groundbreaking television series when he returned to the studio and came face to face with the unflappable and unplayable Cohen–unflappable mainly because he didn’t speak any English and was immune to Hellmuth’s distinctive table banter.

Cohen was terrific entertainment for the watching millions, offering the very epitome of European insouciance and some hilarious textbook examples of the Gallic shrug as Hellmuth attempted to coax a read out of his opponent.

The two ended heads up in their heat, with Cohen’s continued charming aloofness baffling Hellmuth into concession. The Frenchman went through to the final and finished fourth; Hellmuth couldn’t make it through the last-chance playoff and ended his reign as series champion.

That, of course, does nothing to diminish Hellmuth’s subsequent achievements, but it’s gratifying to run into Cohen again on the EPT. He’s stayed near the top of the European game for the intervening years, picking up a string of moderate cashes, usually in his native Paris.

He’s made the trip up to Deauville in the guise of a PokerStars qualifier, and he’s doing his bit here to carve his unique way through the field. Most recently, he eliminated his countryman David Foucault with kings against Foucault’s unimproved A-Q. That hand came hot on the heels of a four-way coup when Cohen’s pocket threes were all over a board of K-3-J-K-8.

He’s currently playing something in the region of 18,000–as well as his own distinctive game.

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