Winning an EPT is without doubt impressive. Few players can win an event playing just on luck, and if they do they’re quickly exposed when they try it for a second time. But there are some players who have superlative poker talent in every fibre of their unexercised, steak-powered, nicotine-ravaged bodies. One such player is the Frenchman Antony Lellouche.
Aside from conjuring images of a quick moving, swooping kind of player, Lellouche is a name that can evoke dread in the mind of those drawn alongside him. He’s one of a handful of players who prompt not the question: “Will they survive to the end of day one?” but: “How much will they have at the start of day two?”
Antony Lellouche, back in Warsaw
Like his countryman Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier, it’s naturally assumed that Lellouche will vacuum up the chips from level one onwards, amassing mighty towers with the power to cripple and destroy. It’s a description those who have watched him over the years agree with. “A great player,” said one press man. “He’ll bust in 18th.”
So, with $2 million in prize money and wins in France, Morocco and Las Vegas, why hasn’t one of the game’s most naturally gifted players won one of these tournaments yet?
“That’s a good question!,” Lellouche said, on his way out for a cigarette break.
Take a look at his record so far:
EPT1 Grand Final – 12th (€23,900)
EPT3 Grand Final – 21st (€33,180)
EPT4 London – 6th (€97,843)
EPT4 San Remo – 2nd (€505,000)
EPT5 London – 8th (£81,569)
EPT6 Warsaw – 19th (PLN28,620)
EPT6 Vilamoura – 20th (€10,151)
He came close in San Remo, losing out to Jason Mercier in a memorable final table, but those last two results came after he had dominated the earlier stages. Was it bad luck?
“It’s not bad luck, no, it’s not aces versus kings,” he said, turning down the offer of an easy excuse. “It’s just unfortunate situations.”
In Warsaw a series of quick hands sent him to the rail. Three pots in a row, each recalled in crystal clarity: ace-nine under the gun plus three, running into ace-ten, then a pair of eights gone wrong and soon after that tens run into kings. In Vilamoura two weeks later he was sent on a premature trip to the rail by the eventual winner Antonio Matias.
“I made a big bluff,” said Lellouche. “Most people said it was okay. It was okay. But he was buying for the river and he hit.”
But Lellouche is never too defeated if he can draw on a cigarette. He’s a minimalist player, easily pleased when he has some chips, some headphones and a pack of smokes, and Prague is a kind of paradise thanks to liberal smoking laws.
“At least now I can finish a whole cigarette,” he once said when all-in at EPT Warsaw, having made scissor kick jumps over the rope cordon to satisfy an insatiable nicotine habit, something here can do here with a dash through the doors into the lobby.
Right now he can afford a break or two, busting another player before the break with 8♠7♣. The defeated player held kings.
“Lellouche, you’re like a machine! You’re hoovering up chips!” said John Kabbaj, calling over from the next table along and making a vacuum noise. Lellouche said nothing, he just stacked chips.
“What did you have?” asked Kabbaj. Lellouche said he had a straight, causing Kabbaj to burst out laughing. “A straight? I’m trying to flop a pair!”
Lellouche now has 300,000. Surely that’s worth more than 18th?