Monday, August 31, 2015

EPT12 Barcelona, Day 13: The Stand-In

A few quick thoughts about the final day yesterday at the European Poker Tour Barcelona festival where John Juanda ended up winning the Main Event, Mustapha Kanit won the High Roller (after an unusual deal was made), and five other side events wrapped up.

The media room was full of apprehension both Saturday night and early Sunday about how long things would go on the last day. Most felt the Main Event would end at a decent hour, with tourney staff also predicting a pre-midnight finish. But the High Roller was a wild card, with 30 players returning and a potential to go much longer.

As it happened, the €10K High Roller finished up first thanks both to the fact that things moved more quickly than anticipated and to an unique finish. With three left, Kanit, Kuljinder Sidhu, and Nick Petrangelo decided on a deal to chop the remaining prize money and end things right then and there, with chip leader Kanit getting the trophy and designation as winner.

Have to say Kanit is becoming kind of a favorite to watch for me, having seen him win a couple of huge ones -- this and the €50K One-Day Super High Roller in Monaco in May -- as well as take down the SCOOP High Main Event where the Italian plays as “lasagnaaammm” (a way-better-than-average screen name).

Kanit is fun to watch, both for his play and the entertainment he provides. In Monaco, Nick Wright wrote a piece highlighting Kanit’s jovial demeanor at the tables. In Barcelona, Kanit’s multi-colored sport jacket was a highlight of a piece by Howard Swains about some of the fashion on display.

Kanit also had a perfect comeback versus Phil Hellmuth during the summer after the pair tangled in a hand in the One Drop High Roller at the WSOP.

After losing a pot to Kanit, Hellmuth trotted out his customary petulance. “Why do we try and bluff the amateurs?” said Hellmuth after the hand (from the WSOP update), betraying his ignorance about who he was playing against. “They are going to give you 500K with a king and no kicker.”

Kanit’s response -- not even hinting at the fact that he is anything but an amateur -- was golden: “I traveled a long way to play the tournament,” he said. “I just want to enjoy myself and play some hands.”

How can you not pull for a guy whose instinct versus Hellmuth’s applesauce is to respond like that?

Juanda winning the Main was kind of remarkable to watch play out, in part because about a week before he’d tweeted that he hadn’t played any live poker at all since the last EPT Barcelona festival a year ago. He made a couple of fortunate hands as a short stack on the final day, and apparently was super short earlier in the event, too. Quite something to see him there at the finish. (There was also a deal in that one, although they left some on the table to play for.)

Finally, I got a huge laugh out of seeing the “Challenge Stapes” segment during the stream yesterday in which I took part. The segment featured Joe Stapleton recreating a hand between Dan Shak and Kamal Choraria from last year’s EPT Barcelona, with Stapes playing both roles and me serving as a silent stand-in for both.

That just above is a photo taken during the shoot (click to embiggen). Here’s the whole segment:

By the way, you can see the original hand from last year’s EPT Barcelona here (which lasts a couple of minutes), and then the table talk afterwards starts here.

Working that 13th-straight day and reporting on the last side events, I kind of felt like a silent stand-in there, too, a sore throat keeping me from talking much and other symptoms reducing me to a kind of dummy version of my usual self. Still, it was great being there and seeing it through to the finish, especially while working alongside so many friends and great colleagues.

Talk to you again soon from the other side of the Atlantic.

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