What do you do with a problem like Lucien Cohen? The fanatical Frenchman, adored by his railbird friends standing inches away behind him, delights in every misfortune, either his own or that of others.
One player made clear his opinion: “I hate this guy,” said Hugo Pingray, shortly after Cohen had doubled up, screaming something about his mother and waving the toy rat about.
Cohen certainly divides players. There are those who think he’s inappropriate and there are those that tell him that he is. But he has an appeal beyond the small group of friends who follow his every move. A poker tournament needs a villain, even a pantomime one and Cohen fits the bill perfectly. We like to roll our eyes.
And what’s more he is still in the main event as the clock ticks down to fewer than 75 players. What chance the most infamous double wins in EPT history?
To do that Cohen has to get past several key obstacles. The first is his own table. Shahaf Hadaya is the big stack there, showing little tendency to beat anyone who takes him on. Then there is the field itself, still spotted with powerful stacks in dangerous hands.
Sam Grafton, whose baseball cap seems to move further and further back on his head so that the bill looks directly upwards, holds the chip lead, with close to a million. Sometimes you look at a player and see someone in peak form. Grafton fits that description.
Behind him are Mathew Frankland, Ferit Gabriellson, James Mitchell, Alexander Dovzhenko, Jeffrey Hakim and Jason Koon. All are the types of players now on course to go deep, serious players who tend not to make their money out of modest cashes but big wins.
For all the remarks from people like Pingray, and his own antics that are clear to see, Cohen is no pushover. The time may come soon when we have to consider him seriously as a title contender, rat and histrionics or no rat and histrionics.
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Stephen Bartley is a PokerStars Blog reporter