There’s something fantastic and familiar about the annual EPT stop in London, and the curtain has just come down on another fantastic week of poker in the United Kingdom’s World Capital. Amidst an unprecedented heat wave, this year’s Main Event drew 691 players with a first prize of £750,000 on the line. We won’t spoil all the news, but you should definitely head over to the “Blog” portion of this PokerStars Blog and find out who’s been crowned the EPT’s newest champion. Not now, though. When you’re done reading.
Those of us who weren’t able to make the trip to London were forced to sweat our friends and favorites through the magic of the interwebs. The PokerStars Blog is, of course, the best place to follow along with the action, but more and more, Twitter is becoming the best way to fill in the gaps in the action. With constant updates at our fingertips, we spent the better part of the week scrolling through our Twitter feed like vultures picking through the scrap heap for 140-character morsels of goodness.
Some of the morsels were — well, not so good, if we’re honest. Liv Boeree welcomed the poker world to her hometown by trying out two new things: London bike rental and stand-up comedy. She tweeted, “Did the London bike rental thing for the first time today. Cycling in London is intense, like camping. (get it? In tents…).” We’ll add the #groan. Never one to shy away from poking fun at herself, Boeree followed up with this: “Seeing as the one-liner went down like a lead ballon, be expecting many more of them, you lucky people.”
Boeree apparently spent the next day hanging out with Daniel Negreanu in London, and it’s likely a good thing the bloggers weren’t anywhere around with their pads and pencils. With Boeree apparently rubbing off on him a bit, Negreanu was having his own new experiences. Some time that night, he tweeted, “I just peed in a street urinal. So cool! Pictures to follow, bet you all can’t wait right??? Can’t do that in the U.S.!” It’s a lot of info, but well pass it off as borderline acceptable conversation. Boeree went ahead and crossed the line of #TMI with the picture: “Yup, @RealKidPoker has discovered London’s public conveniences.”
Over the next two days, the Team PokerStars Pros began to arrive to play from their corners of the continent. Before the poker got rolling, though, the weather was the biggest trending topic. From Holland came Lex Veldhuis, and he tweeted, “Just arrived in London for the EPT. Must be first time I got here when it is sunny. Many nice! Playing Day 1A tomorrow.” Many nice, indeed!
We’d like to have Joe Hachem’s frequent flier status, and once again, he came from a long way away to play the EPT. “Leaving Bali 🙁 for the long haul to London,” he tweeted. “Bali-Jakarta-Abu Dhabi-London, who said I won’t be fresh when I arrive in 22hrs?” The trip apparently went well with the help of chemicals, and Hachem touched down in London with a smile. “Well the good news is I slept most of the way, thanks doc! The better news is that London has really turned on the weather about 27 atm.” Boris Becker didn’t get quite so specific, but he gave us his own weather report via Twitter, too: “Its heatwave in london !!!”
Enough about the weather already. Friday and Saturday were the Day 1s crossing from September into the last quarter of 2011. We’re not sure how everyone appeared in person, but on Twitter, they were all rested and raring to go. Negreanu had tucked in early for the night before, and, well — early to bed, early to rise. “Awake and ready for #eptlondon,” he tweeted. “I’m going to do bad things to people’s brains today. Up at 10am! That is so cool. I feel almost normal.” Almost. Veldhuis was ready to go, too: “I had an incredible nights sleep. Couldn’t feel more ready to play #EPTLondon. Last two times I felt like this I was out in 3 hours though!”
Unfortunately for those two gents, the sleep did nothing to stave off their Day 1 eliminations. You probably don’t need to check Twitter to know that Veldhuis was splashing around in pots right from the get-go. But for argument’s sake, Exhibit A from Twitter: “Thought about bringing my Kindle to the table to read. Instead I just cold 4bet with 63o. #resultorientedftw #eptlondon.” Veldhuis nursed a middling stack through most of the day, and we knew there was trouble brewing when we saw this tweet: “Last 2 levels of the day I have 40k. Was around 50 most of the time. Nothing eventful has happened. Blinds 250-500. #eptlondon”. Sure enough, he had no intentions of taking a mediocre stack into Day 2. Shortly thereafter, Veldhuis ended the day with an, “I’m out. (Rant about boring forms of poker here). GG.”
Negreanu’s day was even less tweet-worthy, and the run of downward-trending chip tweets ended with, “#EPTLondon all in with 44 vs 57. Flop AK3 turn Q river 5. And that’s that!” Even the great “ElkY” had trouble getting going, something he’s become accustomed to in London. It’s a place he’s yet to notch a cash, and this time around wouldn’t be the combo breaker, either. “Out of #EPTlondon #unf***ingreal.” ‘Nuff said.
Another who failed to make it through Day 1’s minefield was the charming Boeree, her elimination coming in spite of an optimistic start. Very early on, she tweeted, “Flopped quad kings already and won a decent pot, up to 38k #eptlondon.” It was all downhill from there, however. Boeree flopped top two with ace-king and lost a big chunk to an opponent with pocket kings, and then she ran up against Viktor Blom — “Isildur1” as they call him at work. We’ll let the lady tell the story herself: “Wow… I pick up QQ and 3bet @RealIsildur1 on a 20bb stack (he has about the same). He flats out of position with A 4… Spikes an ace.” A short while later came the end of the road for our heroine. “Left crippled after the Isildur absurdity and shoved K9 cutoff for 9bbs, ran into AQ.”
While the casualties continued to mount on Day 1, a few members of our PokerStars family were having a more enjoyable time chipping up. Hachem was apparently feeling a little pensive on his Day 1, tweeting, “Sitting here I realized how much I enjoy playing poker, especially big tourneys like #EPTLondon. I wish Europe was closer to home.” Some of us can probably relate to all of those sentiments. A former world champ of different sorts, Becker came to Day 1 ready to play, too. But first, another weather update: “Hottest day in london,since they recorded the weather.” And then: “But anyway,be inside all day for poker EPT.”
Hachem ended up surviving Day 1 with 87,000, but it turned into a real struggle as the night wore on. “Jet lag is a b#!*#ch just kicked me in the head,” he told us. “Totally delirious atm. Have 21/2 hrs to go, 75k”. You’ll note that despite his delirious state, he managed to chip up a bit at night’s end. Becker survived the day, too, as did the likes of Vanessa Rousso, JP Kelly, Victoria Coren, Jason Mercier (of course), and Juan Manuel Pastor. More on Pastor in a bit. Even though she couldn’t make Day 2, Liv Boeree was making the best of her night away from the tables. “Eating pizza and drinking beer with friends,” she tweeted. “What could be better?”
As one might expect of a poker tournament, the field continued to thin over the course of the following days, and we watched the bulk of our remaining Pros fall by the wayside. Rousso went quickly on Day 2, tweeting, “Worst day 2 ever. I won one pot in 3 levels of play. I lost with JJ 4 times and once TO JJ w AK. Out…but looking forward to side events.” The day was destined to be unkind to the ladies, and Victoria Coren learned that unfortunate lesson, too. Her Day 2 began with pocket aces being cracked by ten-jack, but she did manage to rebound the losses quickly to get back to 54,000 where she began the day. And then the bottom fell out: “Ooh ouch. Straight v set, my opponent made a full house. Which my predictive text wants to describe, quite rightly, as a dull house.” At least she managed to find some humor in the situation, but that was the beginning of the end of her day. Coren succumbed soon thereafter with this tweet, “Curses, out. To be honest, it did feel like that kind of day. Never mind, never mind. NEXT CASE…”
Back to the Main where Becker was faring no better. He announced, “Busto in level 11,” and then, “AK to strong for AQ.” Becker mentioned that he had a great time playing with Doyle Brunson before delivering a quotable tweet to end his day: “The only remedy is to play again…….”
Card-dead was the highlight of Hachem’s Day 2, and it apparently got pretty bad. “I feel like a piece of furniture just watching all the action and keep picking up napkins” he said. In the end, half a hand was enough for Hachem to go with: “Finally picked up half a hand 1010, called preflop raise and jammed 8 high board, he had KK…terrible day all round.” Mr. Hachem, consider using “TT” for pocket tens so we don’t think you’re tweeting in binary code.
That’s enough of the bad news again. Juan Manuel Pastor was doing much better on his Day 2, though his tweets are a bit more difficult for us to understand than even binary code. For starters, they’re in Spanish. And to complicate things, they appear to be filled with metaphorical obscurity. As he “continued silent navigation” and “surfed the dangerous area full of enemy ships.” Pastor ended up sinking a couple merchants and destroyers, escaping a depth charge with only minor damage, sinking a battleship, and cruising calmly toward port. All while accumulating chips in a poker tournament. Now that’s a busy day. It ended with Pastor taking a bad beat to bag up 217,000 chips, and he admitted, “Me cabreo mucho lo del bote…” or “I pissed off the boat much.” There are two ways to interpret that sentence.
Day 3 brought the money bubble and the end of the road for Jason Mercier. “Was up to 110k then lost 190k pot AQs vs 88 all in pre,” he tweeted. “Board runs AK3J8 sooooo I have 6 bbs. 18k going to 1500/3k we r bout 20 away from $.” It was bad timing, and it wasn’t long before he lost the rest. “Bubbled. 10 away from the money … Got my last 15k in with K4s vs A7 and won then got in 35.6k with AQ vs 55 and was dead on the turn #gg.” When will it end?
Pastor plucked his way though the eliminations again, though, tweeting about bulls, bullfighters, and a goat with chips (“una cabra con fiches”) as he worked his stack up to 470,000. He kept running hot through Day 4, providing chip updates that took him from 570,000 up to 1.2 million. He’d end up holding 890,000 when play concluded with 24 players left, the last of the Team Pros left. With the cameras running on Day 5, Pastor’s tweets became more sparse, and he was kind enough to tell us that when there were two tables left. This was his tweet: “Pelotón reducido a 16. En la TV table. No twitear me dejan. Parezco Yoda.” If our Spanish is correct, that translates thusly: “Platoon reduced to 16. On the TV table. They do not let me tweet. I look like Yoda.” A couple hours later, the next tweet was more good news: “A group of nine escaped. We are headed to the final table. Two Spaniards.”
Pastor received an outpouring of support via Twitter as he hunted the trophy, and he took several opportunities to thank his followers in return. “Llegue a la meta. Gracias a todos.” Or, “I reached the goal. Thank you all.” On the final day of action, he stood his ground with a middling stack that that never got above 2.5 million (of about 21 million in play). With four players left and the antes and blinds at 10,000/40,000/80,000, Pastor looked down at pocket nines and raised to 175,000. If you’re in that spot with 2.55 million chips, and Benny Spindler three-bets to 375,000 from the small blind, what do you do? Pastor certainly can’t be faulted for moving it all in there, but Spindler snapped him off with the black-and-red aces. The board ran clean, and Pastor was rewarded with £200,000 for his fourth-place finish.
“Gracias mil a todos por el cariño y apoyo (Thanks much to all for the love and support),” he said afterwards. “Gracias de corazón (Heartfelt thanks).” Congratulations, Juan Manuel.
To find out who ended up the winning EPT London Main Event (hint: he doesn’t tweet), click here and read the first two words.