The three rows of chairs between the two final tables were absolutely packed at the start of play. But it soon transpired that almost all of the supporters–literally all but about three–were there to rail Anthony Lerust, the man from Amiens in France.
When Lerust was introduced to the crowd before action began, the roar could be heard upstairs in the press room. There was a pretty similar bellow within about three orbits of the action starting when he was all in and called by Sotirios Koutoupas and the cards were flipped on their backs.
Koutoupas opened K♦Q♦ which wasn’t much to cheer about. But the roof lifted when Lerust tabled his A♠A♣. The crowd shifted to their feet, others were drawn to the noise from the bar and the red rope around the final table was strained by the fans eager to get even closer to their man.
But celebrating early in poker is a dangerous pursuit, and the flop brought a word of warning. It came: 9♠10♠8♣. The K♥ on the turn brought a couple of whimpers of consternation. And the silence was utterly deafening when the Q♣ came on the river.
Lerust himself didn’t really seem to be able to believe it. He stood shocked for a moment, before beginning the weary duty of shaking hands and wandering away from the stage. The most vocal of his supporters all week, a man in a blue bobble hat, put his arm around Lerust’s shoulders and took him on a tour of commiseration around the tournament room.
The seats emptied immediately, leaving almost nobody to watch as Carlo De Benedittis got his short stack in on the next hand and got knocked out in seventh. De Benedittis had laddered up one spot with his short stack and seemed perfectly unconcerned to be sent to the rail. (His final hand was A♦10♦ against Oliver Price’s A♥Q♠.) He was in this tournament for less than the price of a round of drinks and was delighted to gather €93,000.
Just as De Benedittis wandered to the payouts table, he was joined there by Nikolay Losev, who had gone broke in seventh place from the High Roller. The tournament official manning the desk said “Congratulations!” to De Benedittis and was greeted with a smile. She then said the same thing to Losev, who scowled and said, “Pft.”
“I know, I’m sorry,” she said.
Losev led the way to the cashier’s table. De Benedittis followed a yard behind. Two men wearing blue jeans and black jackets collecting the best part of €150,000 between them. That’s poker.
Follow our coverage of the Main Event at EPT Deauville by heading to the main EPT Deauville page. There’s hand-by-hand coverage in the top panel, plus chip counts, and feature pieces below. Follow the High Roller on the High Roller page. EPT Live is also on, so tune in there for a close-up view of the action.