Home Country Favorite Remi Castaignon Takes Down EPT Deauville Championship
Wrapping one of the quicker final tables in recent memory, France’s very own Remi Castaignon came to the final day of the European Poker Tour Main Event in Deauville with a huge chip lead and, after momentarily losing that lead, came back to win the latest EPT title.
How big was Castaignon’s lead to start the day? Sitting on 9.9 million in chips, Castaignon’s closest competitor, Walid Bou Habib, was over six million chips behind to start play on Saturday. The other competitors in the field all were arranged under the 2.7 million chip mark, with the short stacked Jeffrey Hakim eking into the final table on an 895K stack.
Hakim’s chips would be put to use on the second hand of final table play and, unfortunately for Hakim, it would be a cooler. After a raise from Joseph El Khoury, Hakim pushed his remaining chips to the center of the felt. El Khoury pondered his move as the action continued around the table, then was surprised to see Enrico Rudelitz pop out of nowhere and move his 2.6 million in chips to the center. Stunned by the Rudelitz move, El Khoury mucked pocket nines to allow Hakim and Rudelitz to clash.
Hakim had a solid offering in Big Slick, but Rudelitz had awakened with bullets, pocket Aces, and the players went to the flop. An all-hearts flop of J-8-6 only served to put Rudelitz further into the lead, as he held the Ace, and another Jack on the turn left Hakim drawing dead. Cruelly, a King came on the river, too little, too late for Hakim’s tournament life to be rescued.
Rudelitz would use those chips to their maximum in a battle against Castaignon. Castaignon called off a 450K three-bet from the lone German at the final table. On a Q-6-3 flop, Castaignon check-called another bet from Rudelitz and did the same on the ten turn. When a seemingly innocent four came on the river, Rudelitz put his remaining two million chips in the center and, after an agonizingly long deliberation, Castaignon made the call. When Rudelitz turned up pocket Queens for a flopped set, Castaignon was forced to show (according to French law) his pocket fives that were never ahead. The hand would put Rudelitz into the lead with almost eight million in chips, while Castaignon remained relatively healthy with his nearly six million stack.
Another cooler would be responsible for the elimination of the seventh place player. Noel Gaens put his short stack at risk while holding pocket tens, unaware that Bou Habib was awaiting around the bend with pocket Aces. After a Queen high board, Gaens headed to the exit at the Casino Barriere. Rudelitz would extend his lead following Gaens departure by knocking out El Khoury in sixth, his pocket Queens besting El Khoury’s suited A-7.
Bou Habib would emerge as a major challenger at this point, chopping a sizeable stack of chips from Robert Romeo’s stack to take over the lead from Rudelitz as the players went to a break. This set up for a clash between Bou Habib and Rudelitz that would change the course of the tournament.
Bou Habib defended his blind against Rudelitz and, on a 9♣ 2♦ 8♣ flop, check-called a bet from Rudelitz. A 5♣ put several potential combinations on the board, but both players only checked their action. A 2♣ on the river lit the fuse as Bou Habib bet out finally, for 725K, only to see Rudelitz arrange the plaques introduced during the break to raise to two million. After a few moments, Bou Habib stunned the audience by moving all in for his remaining seven million stack. Rudelitz analyzed the situation and could not make the call, pushing Bou Habib into the lead with over ten million chips and knocking Rudelitz down to only around five million.
Castaignon began to make his move at this point, picking on the shorter stacked Rudelitz and Romeo, before knocking off one of them to take the lead back. His pocket Jacks were able to outlast Rudelitz’ A-9 to eliminate the German in fourth place, then Castaignon would take out Romeo with pocket Aces over Romeo’s A-K to move to heads up play with a six million chip lead.
Over an hour-long heads up duel, Bou Habib attempted to pull close to Castaignon but couldn’t jump the chip gap to get into a strong fighting position. On the final hand, Bou Habib opened the betting to 325K, only to see Castaignon push the action over a million in chips. Habib, after some thought, pushed his remaining stack into the pot and, with loss of the hand potentially putting the match at nearly even, Castaignon weighed his options. Making the call, Castaignon tabled pocket threes, while Bou Habib mustered up a K-8 to go to battle.
The 6-4-5 flop kept Castaignon in a tentative lead as the board brought Bou Habib additional outs in a seven to go along with a King or an eight. A ten missed Bou Habib, leaving him drawing to ten outs on the river, but none of them would come home; an Ace didn’t help Bou Habib, eliminating him in second place and earning the championship for Castaignon.
1. Remi Castaignon (France), €770,000
2. Walid Bou Habib (Lebanon), €475,000
3. Robert Romeo (Belgium), €275,000
4. Enrico Rudelitz (Germany) €215,000
5. Franck Kalfon (France), €165,000
6. Joseph El Khoury (Lebanon), €125,000
7. Noel Gaens (Belgium), €87,800
8. Jeffrey Hakim (Lebanon), €60,000
With the excitement now complete in Deauville, the EPT will have an extended break before their next festival of poker. The EPT will head to London, the United Kingdom, beginning on March 5 for a series of tournaments that will culminate with the EPT London Main Event beginning on March 10. There are only two more stops on the schedule following London, the always popular trip to Berlin, Germany in April and the Grand Final in Monte Carlo in May. We can potentially count the latest champion of the EPT, Remi Castaignon, in for those events after his excellent performance on his home turf in France.
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