The online poker world is still in the grip of Platinum Madness (and you can now qualify for the PSPC via a more traditional route too), but our friends over in France gave out another couple of Platinum Passes in the live arena at the weekend too.
The Road to PSPC wended its way to the town of Saint Amand Les Eaux, close to the border with Belgium in France’s north east, for a €175 Main Event, which promised a Platinum Pass to the winner, in addition to the regular prize pool. As is now customary, there was also a flipout tournament held at the start of Day 2 in which all the PokerStars qualifiers who had made it through the opening flights had an additional shot at winning a package to the PSPC.
Platinum Pass packages are worth more than €26,000 and include a buy-in to the €22,500 PokerStars Players No Limit Hold’em Championship for the pass holder, six nights’ accommodation in a luxury hotel, flights, transfers and expenses for the pass holder and guest. The PSPC takes place in Barcelona from August 20-24, 2020.
With 1,184 entries and four starting flights, the “regular” tournament was a particularly difficult event to navigate, and required 39 gruelling levels of play. The first prize was set at €21,000, plus the Platinum Pass, with second (€14,400) and third (€10,400) also assured a five-figure payday. But that was still a long way off as the final day commenced with 31 players still involved.
Approximately five hours later, they reached a final table of nine when Tim Lerouge was knocked out, but there was still about eight hours left. The field whittled to three before Franck Rene couldn’t get his A♦5♣ to beat Nordine Cherief’s K♦10♣ and Rene perished in third.
Cherief ended up heads up, with a big chip lead — 49 million to 10 million — against Ludovic Druesne. That worked out at 61 big blinds to 12. But Druesne, who had led the field for much of the post-bubble period of play, would not give up, and Cherief simply couldn’t win an all-in. Druesne secured a fortunate, if unavoidable, double up when his A♥J♥ beat Cherief’s A♦Q♦. There was no way it wasn’t going all-in pre-flop given those hands, and the dealer put a jack on the turn. Cherief re-grouped and moved back into a significant lead, but then Druesne doubled up again, this time with 6♦3♦ against Cherief’s 8♣5♣. (Druesne was exceptionally short when he shoved this time.)
It then all went in when Druesne had 10♠8♣ and had to hit against Cherief’s A♦7♦. He did hit. The board brought the 10♦ on the turn, and that was another double. Druesne took the chip lead for the first time when Cherief took a stab at a paired board with nothing but seven high and Druesne picked him off with third pair of sixes.
Druesne showed great discipline throughout the heads-up duel, making a number of shrewd folds holding only draws. But then he managed to hit a draw, holding 8♣5♣ and watching the dealer put the 3♥6♣7♦9♥ on the table. Even better, Cherief shoved with K♦Q♦ and Druesne called with his opponent drawing dead.
It left Cherief with one big blind, but he couldn’t win even with A♥4♣ against Druesne’s 4♥2♠. A two hit the flop and Druesne clinched it. In total, the final day took more than 13 hours and the final stages played out in front of a totally empty tournament room (albeit with scores watching live on Twitch). Team Pro’s Kalidou Sow was on hand to give Druesne his Platinum Pass — the first player, as far as I’m aware — to seal the deal while wearing a Poker In The Ears “Chop Pot” sweatshirt.
The final table payouts were as follows:
Road To PSPC – Saint Amand
Dates: February 13-16, 2020
Prize pool: €170,500
1 – Ludovic Druesne €21,116 (plus Platinum Pass)
2 – Nordine Cherief €14,400
3 – Franck Rene €10,400
4 – Guy Radjiai €7,900
5 – Elise Camacho €6,200
6 – Nathalie Tourdot Sekkai €5,000
7 – Jonathan Talleux €4,100
8 – Benoit Kozubski €3,400
By its very definition, the Platinum Pass flip-out was a much swifter affair, with all the drama of a days-long tournament condensed into a matter of minutes. Fifty-one qualifiers made it through to the shootout first round, quickly reduced to a final table. With Julien Brecard announcing the action, Theo Sastre-Garau’s 7♦4♥ flopped best and secured the Platinum Pass for the London-based entrepreneur, who is originally from Lille.
“It’s very cool,” Sastre-Garau said, before offering a word of sympathy to all of those who missed out. “I feel lucky and excited even though there is also a small amount of embarrassment when I ask myself why me and not the others?”
Sastre-Garau is a web developer and podcast host, who has previously featured EPT stalwarts Lucile Cailly, Tristan Clemencon and Ludovic Lacay on his show, and who has documented live tournament earnings of more than $50,000 in poker tournaments. He said he’ll continue to play online as he prepares for the big event in Barcelona. He has almost exactly six months.