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Poker News | Casino Poker | Tournament Reports

Nicolas Chouity Crowned Champion of EPT Grand Final

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The PokerStars.net European Poker Tour started as a way to bring big poker tournaments to Europe, as most big events were previously held in the United States. But as it’s grown over six seasons, it is a phenomenon within itself, a series of poker festivals that brings players from all over the world to some of Europe’s most beautiful locations. With the close of Season 6, another grand finale was set to take place at the luxurious Le Sporting Club in Monaco. It had class, glamour, seaside beauty, and poker players. And it was ready to kick off on April 25.

The last memories of the EPT Grand Final were in the spring of 2009 when a record-breaking 935 players all took part in the €10,000 buy-in tournament, creating a prize pool of €9.35 million. Ultimately, Pieter de Korver of Holland beat Matthew Woodward to win the coveted title and take home a whopping €2,300,000 in prize money. And more recently, the last memory of an EPT tournament was only days ago, when history was made with a 1,240-player field in San Remo, Italy and Liv Boeree became the third woman ever to win an EPT title. It would be hard to top those events, but the EPT never backed down from a challenge.

Day 1A brought a total of 351 players to the tournament tables, all willing to put up the €10K to start play with 30K in chips. Among the players were well-known poker pros like Chris Moneymaker, Gavin Griffin, Phil Ivey, Roland de Wolfe, Arnaud Mattern, Kevin MacPhee, Phil Laak, Jennifer Tilly, Dennis Phillips, Neil Channing, Greg Raymer, Alex Kravchenko, Erik Seidel, Barny Boatman, Amnon Filippi, Owen Crowe, Men Nguyen, John Cernuto, and Patrik Antonius. But only 176 of the players would bag chips at the end of nine levels, and the one with the most chips was Simon Munz of Germany with 175,200 chips, followed by long-time pro Chris Bjorin of Sweden with 171,100.

Day 1B added another 497 players to the field, making for a total of 848 for the 2010 EPT Monte Carlo. The international group hailed from 51 countries altogether and combined to create a €8,480,000 prize pool, from which the top 128 finishers would be paid and the ultimate winner would take home €1,700,000. Some of the more recognizable names at the tables were Daniel Negreanu, Jason Mercier, Lex Veldhuis, John Juanda, Humberto Brenes, Antony Lellouche, Andy Black, Ivan Demidov, Thomas Bichon, Erick Lindgren, Michael Binger, Bertrand Grospellier, Luca Pagano, Andre Akkari, Marcel Luske, Dario Minieri, Vanessa Rousso, Peter Eastgate, and reigning champion Pieter de Korver. But only 237 made it through to see another day, and it was Thiago Nashijima in the lead with 264,200 chips, and Paul Berende was in second place with 195,000.

Day 2 allowed 413 players to return to Le Sporting Club to continue play, but many of them exited the field quickly. Some of the early bustouts included Dan O’Brien, Noah Boeken, Liz Lieu, Thierry Van den Berg, Liv Boeree, and Nenad Medic. And as the day turned into evening, it looked as if the money bubble might burst before play concluded for the night. And it did. During hand-for-hand play, two players moved all-in, and the first one to do so and be eliminated was Rui Cao, who’s A-K beat A-J to allow the double-up. The other wasn’t so lucky, as Ake Olsson had only 15,500 chips and pushed all-in from the small blind. Giles Haddad called from the big blind with {10-Spades}{6-Hearts}, and Olsson showed a dominating {Q-Diamonds}{J-Hearts}. But the board came {10-Clubs}{5-Spades}{6-Spades}{Q-Spades}{4-Hearts}, and the flopped two pair for Haddad eliminated Olsson in 129th place on the bubble.

The first player to cash in the tournament was William Ross, who took home €15,000 for finishing in 128th place. From there, a number of players finished in the money, but after Serge Pierre Madec busted in 117th place, action was halted for the night. At the top of the leaderboard was Nick Schulman with 742,000 chips, and coming up behind was David Sesso with 642,500 chips.

Day 3 looked to be another whirlwind of eliminations, and though 116 started the day, the vast majority would not finish it with chips. Nicola Dervaux of France was the first to go in 116th place, and other notable players who followed included Chris Bjorin in 112th place, Teddy Sheringham in 103rd, Anton Wigg in 99th, Owen Crowe in 87th, Kevin MacPhee in 84th, Neil Channing in 74th, Chris Moneymaker in 69th, Davidi Kitai in 66th, Mel Judah in 56th, Nicolas Levi in 51st, Moritz Kranich in 50th, David Paredes in 41st, Alex Gomes in 33rd, Lex Veldhuis in 31st, and Vicky Coren in 26th. After Andre Santos of Portugal left in 25th place, action was stopped in order to allow the 24 remaining players to rest and return the following day. The one to retire for the night with the most chips was Kevin Eyster with 2,768,000 chips, but close behind was Matt Perrins with 2,618,000 chips.

The 24 remaining players returned on Day 4 to play down to the final table. Action started with Paul Berende leaving in 24th place with €50,000, and the day turned to evening as others like Nick Schulman departed in 18th place and Kevin Eyster did the same in 16th place. Eventually, after Matt Perrins was eliminated in tenth place, the final nine were seated together and playing until one more person was ousted. It didn’t take long before Dominykas Karmazinas doubled through McCorkell and left the latter with only 60K chips. Shortly thereafter, McCorkell put those chips at risk with {Q-Hearts}{4-Hearts}, and Andrew Chen reraised to isolate with {A-Hearts}{10-Clubs}. It worked, and the two watched the dealer give them a {J-Clubs}{6-Spades}{2-Clubs}{7-Hearts}{9-Spades} board. That left McCorkell out in ninth place with €100,000 to soothe the pain.

That left the following players and chip counts to return on April 30 to play for the win:

Seat 1:
Herve Costa
1,590,000
Seat 2:
Roger Hairabedian
1,130,000
Seat 3: 
Aleh Plauski 
1,695,000
Seat 4:  Dominykas Karmazinas 2,285,000
Seat 5:
 Josef Klinger1,170,000
Seat 6: 
Mesbah Guerfi
3,670,000
Seat 7: 
Nicolas Chouity 10,280,000
Seat 8:
Andrew Chen
3,670,000

Action began with Chouity as the overwhelming chip leader, and though the shorter stacks took the first few levels to attempt to make moves, it was Chouity who seemed to move the most, climbing over the 11 million-chip mark shortly into the day’s play.

Finally, one of the players not among the original short stacks decided to move. The hand started with Guerfi and Chouity going to a {8-Clubs}{3-Spades}{4-Spades} flop. The two players checked to the {4-Diamonds} turn, at which point Guerfi bet and Chouity called. The {K-Diamonds} came on the river and prompted another bet from Guerfi, but this time Chouity responded with an all-in raise. Guerfi called with {A-Diamonds}{K-Hearts} for top pair, but Chouity showed {8-Hearts}{8-Spades} for the full house. Mesbah Guerfi was the first to exit the tournament, taking with him €140,000 for eighth place.

That hand put Chouity over the 15 million-chip mark, and it was looking tougher for any of his opponents to catch up. But some of them tried. Karmazinas doubled through Chouity with A-K over A-J, Costa doubled through Plauski with A-Q over A-10, and Plauski stayed alive with a double through Chouity when his K-Q found a queen on the river to beat A-5.

Hairabedian was the next to take a shot at the chip leader. Hairabedian pushed his last 310K all-in from the big blind, actually stating that he was doing it blind without having looked at his cards. Original raiser Chouity made the call and turned over {A-Clubs}{3-Diamonds}, and Hairabedian showed only {J-Spades}{3-Spades}. The flop hit Chouity hard with {A-Hearts}{A-Spades}{5-Diamonds}, and though the {Q-Spades} on the turn gave the short stack the flush draw, the {Q-Hearts} on the river only completed a full house for Chouity. Roger Hairabedian was gone in seventh place with €200,000.

Another few double-ups occupied the time of the EPT Live commentators and on-the-spot tournament reporters for a bit, as Costa doubled through Klinger with pocket sevens over Q-J suited, and Klinger came back to double through Plauski with 10-9 that defeated pocket tens when two nines came on the flop. Klinger then doubled again through Chouity when A-4 stood up to K-J.

With Plauski down to less than a million chips, he decided to push with {K-Hearts}{10-Clubs}, and Chouity reraised all-in to isolate, which worked, with {A-Clubs}{Q-Diamonds}. The board came {2-Spades}{5-Clubs}{7-Spades}{9-Clubs}{Q-Clubs}, and Aleh Plauski was eliminated in sixth place with €300,000.

The action then quickened. Chen decided to move all-in with {9-Clubs}{7-Clubs}, but Klinger called immediately with a dominating {K-Spades}{K-Diamonds}. The board came {J-Spades}{10-Spades}{J-Hearts}{5-Diamonds}{9-Hearts}, and the kings turned into two pair to give the pot to Klinger. That left Andrew Chen out of the tournament in fifth place with €400,000.

Costa was the next to move, and he did it from the button with {A-Spades}{9-Hearts}. Original raiser Chouity called with {K-Diamonds}{Q-Hearts}, which wasn’t the best hand until the {K-Spades}{K-Clubs}{6-Diamonds} flop made it into trip kings. The {6-Hearts} on the turn converted it into an even better hand - a full house - and the {3-Hearts} on the river ended it for Herve Costa, who took home €500,000 for the fourth place finish.

Play moved along as Karmazinas doubled through Chouity with pocket fives over K-2 offsuit, but Chouity still maintained a solid chip lead as the final three players went into the dinner break.

When they returned, Chouity used his chip-lead leverage to get aggressive and put the shorter stacks to decisions that they clearly had a tough time making. Finally, Chouity pushed all-in from the small blind, and Karmazinas called from the big blind with {A-Diamonds}{7-Spades}. Chouity turned over the underdog hand of {A-Clubs}{6-Diamonds}. The {3-Spades}{Q-Hearts}{5-Clubs} flop changed nothing, but the {6-Clubs} hit on the turn to give Chouity the pair of sixes. The {K-Clubs} showed on the river to end the tournament for Dominykas Karmazinas, who left in third place with €700,000.

Heads-up action began with the following chip counts:

Nicolas Chouity
21,465,000
Josef Klinger
4,025,000

The first pot saw Klinger get all of his chips in on a {4-Diamonds}{Q-Diamonds}{5-Hearts} flop with {Q-Spades}{8-Clubs}, and Chouity called with {Q-Hearts}{2-Hearts}. The {A-Diamonds} turn and {4-Hearts} river made it a split pot for the players.

But it didn’t take long for another all-in and call. Klinger pushed all-in for his last 6 million chips with {8-Diamonds}{8-Clubs}, but Chouity had no problem or delay calling with {A-Clubs}{A-Diamonds}. The board was a fairly uneventful {K-Diamonds}{10-Spades}{9-Hearts}{4-Spades}{Q-Clubs}, and Josef Klinger of Austria was forced to accept second place, for which he won an impressive €1,000,000.

Nicolas Chouity of Lebanon won the 2010 PokerStars EPT Grand Final, which came with a prestigious trophy, title, and whopping €1,700,000 in cash.

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