Thursday, January 30, 2014

Travel Report: EPT10 Deauville Main Event, Day 3: Winner, Winner… and Dinner

Have finally sorta kinda caught up with everything else and am writing this post late Wednesday night having returned to my room following the Global Poker Index European Poker Awards dinner that took place in one of the ballrooms of the Casino Barrière.

Looking back, the awards ended up kind of dominating the day, although there was some interesting poker during today’s five 90-minute levels. The 137 who started the day played down to just 41, with real estate agent Ekrem Sanioglu who’s from Turkey but considers France home leading the way. Eugene Katchalov (whom I spoke with back at the start of the tournament) has been building since Day 1 and is currently in second position.

Today got to talk with both Zimnan Ziyard and Julien Brécard during the course of the day, both friendly fellows and solid players. Ziyard had a challenging day, starting near the top of the counts and battling hard to survive the night, while Brécard managed to nurse his short stack into the money and then some before busting late in the day.

Like I say, though, the awards kind of eclipsed all. We were treated to a nice three-course meal starting with a pastry-style smoked salmon and squid ink dish with coconut milk, rack of lamb with garden veggies and potato cake, and a raspberry chocolate pastry. There was champagne and wine for those who partook, too.

The awards began to be handed out during dessert, with Joe Stapleton and Gaëlle Garcia Diaz hosting. The awards included categories like Rookie of the Year, Internet Player of the Year, Best European Event, and so on. (I missed the earlier presentations of all the GPI-related stuff.)

There was a grab-bag category for Poker Industry Person of the Year that kind of awkwardly shoehorned in a couple of media guys (and friends with whom I’ve worked over the years), Marc Convey and Lee Davy, another good guy Neil Johnson who is the EPT tourney director, and Edgar Stuchly who is President of the EPT. Johnson won that one, which I think might have made him the only American to take a trophy at the GPI EPA.

Probably the most meaningful awards given during the night were the Rob Gardner Memorial Award given to the Frenchman “Big” Roger Hairabedian and the Lifetime Achievement Award given to the much-loved Hendon mobster Barny Boatman (pictured at left).

I remember talking with Jesse May about the late Gardner and his important contributions to early televised poker (see Part 1 and Part 2 of the interview I did with May a while back).

There was a nice moment at the end when a “Jury Prize” was awarded to the EPT dealers who travel throughout the tour and really are especially good.

Although this is the 13th year for the EPAs, I think it was the first time they’ve managed to have the ceremony at an EPT stop, which made it kind of a special occasion. Was fun to be there and watch what is really a huge and varied community come together and enjoy recognizing the achievements of several.

Back at it at noon Thursday. There’s the High Roller starting up, too, which will earn some of our attention as well. Check over on the PokerStars blog for more today from “Dough-ville.”

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