At the start of the day, we knew the elite eight of the 2014 PokerStars.fr European Poker Tour Deauville Main Event final table had the potential to deliver a fantastic day of poker, and what a final table it was. There was the guy who didn't plan on playing the event in the first place in Oliver Price, the guys who satellited in for just a few Euros with Rustem Muratov and Carlo De Benedittis, and then there was the guy who had already finished runner-up in an EPT before in Sotirios Koutoupas.
Oh, and then there was the main story of Team PokerStars Pro Eugene Katchalov, who was chasing poker's elusive Triple Crown. After winning his World Poker Tour title back in 2007 for $2,482,605, and a World Series of Poker gold bracelet in 2011 for $122,909, it was now time for that coveted EPT title. He was close in 2011 when he finished third at EPT Barcelona, but was it time to complete the feat in Deauville?
The answer would be no, and Koutoupas would come out victorious.
2014 EPT Deauville Main Event Final Table Results
|7||Carlo De Benedittis||€93,000|
The final day started out rather quiet, and the first couple of hands went raise and take it. Then, there were no flops in the first two orbits.
Things would change soon enough, though. The first player to bust was Anthony Lerust. Koutoupas opened to 105,000 from under the gun plus one with the . Action quickly folded to Lerust in the small blind, he pushed all in for 1,005,000 with the , and the big blind folded. Koutoupas made the call and the last Frenchman was at risk.
The on the flop brought Koutoupas four direct outs. The on the turn gave the Greek player even more outs, then the on the river hit him with two pair. The man from Greece got what he needed, and a disappointed Lerust shook hands with all the players at the table and made his way to the exit.
It would only be the first of two times that Koutoupas would crack aces, and it would become the first of two back-to-back eliminations as De Benedittis was eliminated the next hand.
From under the gun plus one, Oliver Price opened to 100,000 with the , De Benedittis shoved for 365,000 with the , and Price made the call. The flop meant that neither player wanted to hit their kicker now. The turn and river kept Price in front and Carlo De Benedittis was lost in seventh.
Muratov would be all but felted not much later. Eli Heath opened the cutoff to 100,000 holding the . Behind him sat the last qualifier Muratov with the , and he shoved all in for a little over 1,500,000 million. Muratov wouldn't find his foe in Heath, though. Price was behind him holding the and called all in. After Heath folded, the board didn't improve anyone. Muratov was left with just 10,000, two antes at the time, and was eliminated shortly thereafter.
Muratov would first quadruple up with pocket kings against Harry Law's . The next hand, he moved all in for 40,000 with the . Price isolated from the button with the and got calls from Law with the and Katchalov with the . This hand would be an important one. Not only since the tournament would eventually lose Muratov, but more so as Katchalov was going to lose a big portion of his stack.
On the flop, Price bet 125,000, and Katchalov was the only caller. The turn improved Price to trips, but both players checked and the hit the river. Katchalov checked to Price, who bet 320,000. Guest commentator Jon Spinks thought that Price's bet was too big to get paid off, but Katchalov did call and saw the bad news. Muratov was gone in sixth place, whilst Katchalov was now the shortest stack of the five remaining players.
Katchalov doubled, however, and managed to turn things around. Law opened the small blind to 180,000 with the . "Ow, this can get messy," said co-commentator Marc Convey as the graphics revealed Katchalov had the in the big blind. Katchalov made it 450,000 to go, and then action was back on Law. He announced all in, Katchalov double checked his cards and called.
Law frowned on getting such a quick call. He might have expected to be dominated and probably was okay seeing he had a coinflip situation. The flop was no harm for Katchalov. Law had some backdoor outs, but the on the turn ensured he needed to hit an ace or jack to win and eliminate the Triple Crown-chasing Katchalov. The on the river was a blank, and Katchalov doubled up into second place.
The biggest hand of the tournament would happen with five players left. You could hear the "oooohs" and "aaaahs" from the tournament room as soon as it happened.
Law opened under the gun to 160,000 with the . Koutoupas was in the small blind and had a big hand with the . You could feel the tension in the air, and the commentators of the live stream already foresaw big action.
Koutoupas made it 440,000 to go and Price quickly folded his big blind. Getting a three-bet with pocket aces, Christmas came early for Law, it seemed. He four-bet to 985,000, and action fell back on Koutoupas. The Greek shoved all in and Law immediately called, creating the biggest pot of the tournament with 8,230,000 in chips in the middle. Law's graphic said he was an 87% favorite to win the hand.
But then it said 2% after the flop when the fell and gave Koutoupas a nearly unbeatable flush.
Law now needed runner-runner straight flush for a split pot, or runner-runner to win it, but it wouldn't happen. The landed on the turn, and it was all over for Law. The on the river was there just to make it official. Law exited in fifth place, and he took home €164,600 after suffering the horrible beat.
On the next hand, Heath was eliminated in fourth place for €207,800. From first position, he moved all in for 1,230,000 (12 big blinds) with the . Next to act was Koutoupas, and he called with the . Both blinds folded, and it was time to go to showdown.
Yet again, Heath had got it in good, but again he'd be brutally out-flopped as the first three community cards were . Heath now had just an 11% shot to stay in the tournament. He didn't get there on the turn or the river and shook the hand of his opponents as he left the table.
Price was about to hit the rail next. Already short, he shoved from the big blind with the after Koutoupas had opened the small blind to 250,000 holding the . A snap-call came from Koutoupas.
Commentator Joe Stapleton jokingly said that Koutoupas would have this confrontation locked up after the flop, given the way he had been running at the final table.
"Ha!" Stapleton shouted as the window card became visible. The and that accompanied the queen for the flop gave Price something of a chance. Only one out of twenty times Price would still win this situation, though.
"So you're telling me there's a chance?!"
The on the turn turned Price's 5% hand into an 18% hand. With an up and down, every ten and five would now give him the much needed double up. All other cards would mean he was out. The river was a , and the fairy tale was over for Price. Price, who wasn't planning on playing this event until Dominik Nitsche convinced him, walked away with €271,200 during his second-ever EPT.
The players went on a small break for the organization to set up the heads-up match. Koutoupas had 15,050,000 in chips, and Katchalov had just 4,990,000. As the blinds were 50,000/100,000, it was a 150 big blinds versus 50 big blinds, and there was more than enough room to wiggle around with.
Katchalov was close to getting that Triple Crown title, but in the end he wouldn't get it. The heads-up match was only going in one direction — Greece. Koutoupas played well the entire final table and ran just as hot. A dangerous combination that Katchalov would soon enough know. Koutoupas had the chip lead all day long, and Katchalov wouldn't even come close heads up. Katchalov made some failed hero calls, but would soon find himself all in with a 70% chance to win, but lose.
Koutoupas opened to 200,000 from the button with the , and Katchalov made it 500,000 to go from the big blind with the . Katchalov started the hand with 3,605,000 and would soon have to risk all those 36 big blinds as Koutoupas shoved all in. Katchalov didn't have to think twice and called.
The flop was a blow for Katchalov. Koutoupas had his hands on his head as he couldn't believe it. He didn't want to celebrate to early, but everyone already knew this wasn't going to go wrong anymore. The on the turn made some people hold their breaths, but the was a blank and Koutoupas' hands went from his head to in the air.
Eugene Katchalov shook hands with the winner, still smiling and soon enough nipping on champagne with his Greek compadre. We talked to him right after the tournament was done:
And with that, Koutoupas emerged as the victor and earned himself €614,000 in first-place prize money. After finishing second in the 2012 EPT Prague Main Event, this is surely a sweet, sweet feeling for Koutoupas to come out on top.