Poker’s a friendly game, you know. You sit down, you play some cards, you win those monies and then you all high-five over multi-coloured drinks in the bar. That’s how it usually works on the European Poker Tour anyway. Not so this April gone by.

There were around 60 players left in the EPT8 Berlin main event, all of whom were well into the 112 paying spots, when Team PokerStars Pro Vanessa Selbst and Kevin MacPhee erupted into a three-, four-, five-, six-bet shoving levelling war. Selbst and MacPhee, who in less combative times away from the table are friends, would be rated at the top end of any tournament field. Perhaps the old mantra of not tangling with the tougher spots was forgotten. Perhaps, as MacPhee mentions, they were trying to ‘take every spot.’ Either way they manage to get more than 50 big blinds in each with 4♠4♦ and A♣9♥. That is not what you would coin as standard.

MacPhee looked pleased, perhaps relieved that his read of Selbst’s shoving range was correct. Selbst? She looked distinctly less thrilled. There was no way that MacPhee should called that shove. Unless, of course, he knew that Selbst knew that he couldn’t call the shove and therefore should call the shove. But MacPhee would have known that Selbst knew that he knew that he shouldn’t be calling. And so on.

If you want to watch a explosive example of a levelling war then you’d be hard pressed to beat this one. Sit back, hit play, gawp and enjoy.

Selbst ended up busting in 48th for €13,000, MacPhee fared a little better but couldn’t quite make it to the big money. He busted out just before the final three tables and was eliminated in 19th position for €20,000. If you would like to watch more of EPT8 Berlin (of course, you do) then head on through to watch the EPT8 Berlin TV coverage at


Vanessa Selbst
Live winnings: $5,579,616
Biggest win: PPT Cannes, €1,300,000
Recorded PokerStars tournament winnings: $193,221
Includes in her six-bet shoving range: pocket fours

Kevin MacPhee
Live winnings: $2,331,401
Biggest win: EPT6 Berlin, €1,000,000
Recorded PokerStars tournament winnings: $2,777,344
includes in his six-bet calling range: ace-nine

is a staff writer for the PokerStars Blog.


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