Thursday, December 17, 2015

Ensan is the Man

Enjoyed once again following the many days’ worth of coverage of the European Poker Tour Prague Main Event over on EPT Live this week, in particular yesterday’s final table and the lengthy heads-up match between Hossein Ensan and Gleb Tremzin, eventually won by Ensan.

I knew of Ensan before, though not specifically because the 51-year-old German (orginally from Iran) had previously made two EPT Main Event final tables, finishing third at EPT11 Barcelona and sixth at EPT11 Malta. I remembered him more for having won two silver spades in prelims at the EPT Grand Final in Monte Carlo back in May where I was helping cover side events.

He’s up over $2 million now in live tournament earnings, all won since 2013, with several wins and final tables. All that helps suggest his skills as a player, although I think anyone watching the live stream yesterday also would appreciate his creativity, too, with a number of interesting, unexpected decisions made in hands that obviously put his opponents on the defensive.

Heads-up in particular included a number of intriguing hands to follow, with Tremzin also providing some worthy opposition in terms of making plays and taking risks. What stood out, though, was the good sportsmanship displayed by both, evidenced in particular both in the deal the pair struck and in one particular hand that came afterwards.

There had been some deal discussion at four-handed, though nothing was agreed upon then. Then after Ilkin Amirov was knocked out in third, the remaining two discussed a deal with Ensan ahead in chips with about 17.5 million to Tremzin’s 13.8 million. Despite his lead, Ensan was fine with an even split of most of the remaining prize money, with each player getting €724,510 and €30,000 left for which to play.

I’ve written here before about the EPT not just allowing deals (unlike the WSOP), but also letting spectators and viewers at home follow along with those discussions, and once again the deal talks were interesting to watch. It was also nice to see how agreeable the pair were in the discussions, with Ensan being so amenable and not being too bothered to push for more thanks to his chip lead. Perhaps all of his cashes over the last couple of years made it easier for him to make that choice, but for those of us on the virtual rail it perhaps inspired a slight rooting interest going forward.

Heads-up was kind of wild, with the lead changing several times and as I already mentioned a lot of interesting postflop play. The two players ended up playing 122 hands, and it was on the 84th one of heads-up another moment arose that resulted in Ensan showing himself to be an especially likable character.

Tremzin had a small lead to begin the hand which started as a limped pot followed by a checked flop, then the turn brought a check-call from Ensan. The river then saw Ensan lead with a bet, then after a short pause Tremzin made a hefty raise.

Watching on a delay, we could see that the board had run out TcAh5d2h6h and that Ensan was betting with a lowly pair of fives as he held Qh5c. The reader had only picked up one of Tremzin’s cards -- the 8s -- which had made it curious to see him put in a big raise (what could he have?).

Ensan then only took about 20 seconds before making a big reraise back -- also interesting to see, and a good example of his boldness -- doing so wordlessly by pushing the needed chips forward. Tremzin immediately said “good call” and began to show his hand. Meanwhile Ensan could be heard saying “You call? You win,” having decided that if he were called there, his fives couldn’t possibly be good.

The miscommunication became apparent when we saw Tremzin had complete air with 8s4d. He’d said “good call” -- not “I call” (as Ensan thought) -- having missed the fact that Ensan wasn’t just calling his raise but was actually reraising.

Discussion followed, with Tremzin explaining what had happened and adding “of course I’m not calling” with the hand he held. It took a little while for everything to become clear to all, with the TDs also listening and appearing as though they were on the verge of making a decision in the matter.

The problem, of course, was that Tremzin had used one of those “action” words -- i.e., “call” -- which when used in spots where one’s intention is different than the action the word indicates can lead to problems. Robert Woolley wrote a good article for PokerNews about this issue a while back titled “You Can Say These Words at the Table, But Be Careful When You Do.”

“Okay gentleman... it’s okay,” said Ensan, interrupting the discussion while making a thumbs-up gesture. “I don’t want more,” he added, echoing the position he’d taken during the deal-making.

The TDs actually still had to rule on the matter, but they went along with Ensan and decided to rule Tremzin didn’t have to call the reraise, as he obviously didn’t intend to with the hand he held. The players retook their seats and continued to talk about the hand as the dealer readied for the next hand.

“Next time, don’t bluff,” Ensan cracked. Tremzin grinned as he responded, “But you bluffed also.”

“I had five... I was good!” replied Ensan, getting a big laugh from both Tremzin and the rail. Tremzin clapped his hands as well in acknowledgment of the inspired quip.

It was a fun moment to watch, and again made it easy to root for Ensan going forward. Tremzin, too, was understanding and easy-going in a spot that it was easy to imagine could have been a lot less amiable, say, with different players involved or in a different tournament. The combination of good sportsmanship and skillful play made it an especially enjoyable match to watch.

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