Last night we reported that Toufik Ouirini was chip leader at the close of play. At the time he had a smile and a little more than 166,000 chips. With the tournament area closed to the press he was our best guess. We were nearly right. Ouirini was in fact in third place, behind Amir Salhani in first (191,100) and Joakim Lofgren in second (173,000).
But as play began today Ouirini, taking part in his first ever EPT event, came to life again, seizing the chip lead that we had accidentally bestowed upon him a little more than 12 hours earlier and becoming the first player to reach 200,000 chips.
This may be Ouirini’s first EPT but it’s not his first major event. No, no. It’s his second.
Ouirini is new to this kind of thing, but was buoyed late last year when he finished second to countryman Mohamed Ali Houssam in the WPT Marrakech in Morocco (an event in which Arnaud Mattern finished fourth). It was a huge result that may well have armed him with the experience to withstand the “pressure” of playing a big stack.
“No, I just lost 90,000 in just one hand,” said Ouirini, smiling, putting me straight and conceding the lead once more, officially this time.
Yesterday’s “chip leader” Toufik Ouirini
“I’m small blind with two clubs and on a flop there was a two, a two and clubs. So I raised 30,000 on the flop. The other guy is all-in with two aces and I call. I do not get the flush…”
Still, Ouirini has righted himself and is back among the leaders a level and a half later, new perhaps but with some experience of how to thrive in a week long, high stakes tournament.
“It was my first real big tournament,” said Ouirini, looking back on last November. “The EPT is my second biggest tournament. I’ve just played smallest tournament so far.”
“Small tournaments” is about right. Prior to his WPT success the Moroccan had scored a second place in a $500 Heads-Up tournament in Marrakech in April before winning a €500 no-limit event in June. Then the WPT rolled into town for a week of poker that would net Ouirini €109,637.
These early results were perhaps not spectacular bit hinted at some ability that, given the right circumstances would blossom into something bigger. Now though, Ouirini looks happy to be playing as a non-professional, in his first EPT.
“Right now I’m at the same point as yesterday,” said Ouirini, still smiling. “I had 166,000 chips yesterday and I’m still on 166,000 chips after one hour. I remain stable.”
Ouirini remains more than stable, he’s among the leaders again as we push on through Day 2. If we think he’s the chip leader at the end of the day we’ll be sure to double check, but it wouldn’t be the hardest thing to believe.
Thanks to Sophie Rousset for help with the translation.