EPT11 Grand Final: The long and short of it: Give me my 13 hours back!

May 08, 2015


Are we going long with these fellas?

The biggest events on the European Poker Tour have, in recent seasons, ended in whimpers. This has not been the result of lack of quality, lack of significance nor lack of drama. It’s simply that the final day has always gone on too darn long and everyone has been wearied to within an inch of their lives by the time the ticker tape is cannoned into the night morning sky.

Inquisitions over these late finishes have taken place in all corners of EPT HQ. It impacts on a lot of folk. The television team, for instance, have camera operators who become hunchbacks and commentators who lose their voices. Dealers end up never being able to fingerpick along to Fairport Convention again. The champions don’t get a chance to pile into the bar and invest half of their winnings, meanwhile tournament administrators, who set the schedules, have to leave a little pile of clothes on the beach-shore in a bid to deflect criticism.

Everybody always seems to think someone could have done something to stop it.

I’m prepared to go out on a limb here, however, and say that we have just been unlucky. There’s nothing inherently wrong with the schedule, nor anything that can actually be done to “fix” it. I’ve watched all of these epics at close quarters, from the Panka/McDonald duel at the 2014 PCA to the Montury/Messina battle in Malta last month, and I’m convinced only the poker gods are to blame.

What I mean is that each and every one of these final tables might have ended significantly sooner if only the cards had fallen another way. All of these tournaments have ended in ludicrously long heads-up encounters during which the short stack has doubled up numerous times.

There’s evidence enough in the fact that we played the exact same format and schedule in Prague in December last year and Stephen Graner got the job done by 5.45pm. It’s just that the chip-leader in that instance got all the best hands and was never out-drawn. Graner went pillar-to-post at the final, reaching heads up on the 62nd hand and ending it on the 81st.

Yes, that’s evidence enough, but here’s more. In a process that took about as much time to complete as the final tables took to play, I’ve taken a look back through the live reporting provided at some of the longest recent final tables to determine at what time we might have been finished had the cards fallen another way.

These rough calculations suggest that over the course of the final tables in Malta, Barcelona and Monaco last year, the poker gods owe us at least 13.5 hours of our lives back.

Explanatory note: The information here is somewhat approximate owing to vagaries of timings on live reporting updates. However, I have looked at all the moments a hand played out that might have ended the tournament and compared it with the actual time the tournament ended. Deal negotiations apparently make almost no difference to duration of subsequent play.


EPT11 Malta:

End: Level 38, 4am local time
Start heads up: Hand 118, Level 33
Stacks: Valentin Messina 15.1 million; Jean Montury 11.7 million

First short stack double (ie, earliest potential end point)
Hand #145, level 34. Approximately 11pm.

Time owed by poker gods: 5 hours

Full list of short stack double ups:
Hand #145 (level 34): Montury cracks aces with pocket fours
Hand #188 (level 35): Messina’s fives beats A♦J♣
Hand #240 (level 36): Short-stack Messina doubles with Q♥4♦ against K♦10♠
Hand #245 (level 36): Messina doubles with A♣J♣ against Montury’s A♦9♦

Other notes:
– On hand #194 (level 35), Messina missed out on double up when the board four flushed. He flopped a set of fours with 4♣4♠ on board of 4♥3♥K♦ as Montury hit two pair with K♣3♣. Turn and river came heart, heart, killing action. It would have put him in a commanding lead.

Additional info:
Levels were reduced to 60 minutes at 3am, the start of level 36

Deal?: Yes, heads up


EPT11 Barcelona:

End: Level 41, 4am local time
Start heads up: Hand 132, Level 36, 10pm local time
Stacks: Andre Lettau 37.5 million; Phillips 7.3 million

First short stack double:
Hand #132, level 35. Approximately 11pm.

Time owed by poker gods: 5 hours

Full list of short stack double ups:
Hand #132 (level 36): Lettau open shoves A♣6♣ and Phillips calls, and doubles, with A♦A♥.
Hand #249 (level 39): Phillips doubled to about 10 million when he got it all in pre-flop with A♦6♦ and flopped two pair.
Hand #250 (level 40): Lettau doubled back through Phillips immediately after losing the previous pot. He rivered a king having shoved pre-flop with K♣3♣ and being called by Phillips’ 4♦4♥.

Other notes:
– Phillips made a series of startling folds, including the bottom end of a straight and, on hand #175, third pair that was only behind on the river, when Lettau check-raised.
– The lead changed hands at least six times heads up.
– Levels were reduced to one hour at Level 38, 1.40am.

Deal?: Yes, three handed

EPT10 Grand Final:

End: Level 35, 6am
Start heads up: Hand 75, Level 30, 7.45pm
Stacks: Jack Salter 10 million; Antonio Buonanno 9.5 million

First short stack double:
Hand #218 (level 33): This one was always going late – but not necessarily as late as it did. The first called all in that had the potential to end things came at 2.28am local time.

Time owed by poker gods: 3.5 hours

Short stack double ups:
Hand #218 (level 33): Buonnano shoved for about 2.5 million with K♣2♣ and overtook Salter’s A♥9♦.
Hand #231 (level 34): Buonnano again had to come from behind with K♦J♥ to beat Salter’s A♥J♦ when they got it in pre-flop.
Hand #244 (level 34): Buonnano won a race with A♥K♣ against Salter’s 10♥10♠. It put him marginally in the lead for the first time in about four levels.

Other notes:
– This was the longest-ever heads up in EPT history.
– Salter was never all in and covered until the final hand

Deal?: No. Buonnano was amenable at the start of heads up, but Salter refused. Salter then wanted an even chop during Level 34, but Buonanno refused.


Follow all the action from the final table of the €10,000 Main Event on the Main Event page. Also watch on EPT Live. The €25,000 High Roller is at its final too, over on the High Roller page. It’s also about time you downloaded the EPT app. There you will get all the latest news, chip counts and payouts. You can download it on Android or IOS.


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