London-based Vicky Coren, a poker journalist who writes a column in the Guardian newspaper amongst others, has secured a stunning win in the London leg of the European Poker Tour held, appropriately, at her namesake the Victoria Casino – better known of course as "The Vic".
Winning the London EPT was worth £500,000 (nearly one million dollars!) to Vicky Coren. This has some meaning for her as we recall that she was once moved to tears of joy at winning the first prize of £25,000 at the made-for-television Celebrity Poker Club tournament beating the likes of snooker player Willie Thorne, puppeteer Roger de Coursey(!!!), the irrepressible Barry Hearn and his long-time friend and snooker charge, Steve Davis. Also at that final table two years ago was a certain Tom Parker-Bowles, son of Prince Charles' wife Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall. We mention this only because Tom Parker-Bowles was once again scrapping for a place on the final table before bowing out in 15th place, a fine achievement nonetheless in a prestigious tournament having survived a 400 player field to get there.
The 14th and 13th places went to two more UK players, Tim Flanders (whose wife Pippa has just won $200,000 and the title at the Partypoker.com World Poker Open II) and the experienced Neil Channing.
This left "twelve men and women good and true" and a chip count that suggested Vicky had work to do:
Chad Brown (USA) 611,000
Peter Hedlund (Sweden) 523,000
Emad Tahtouh (Australia) 504,000
Mike Muldoon (Ireland) 422,000
Ashley Hayles (UK) 324,000
Jan Sjavik (Norway) 296,000
Michel Abecassis (France) 277,500
Vicky Coren (UK) 222,500
Jonas Molander (Sweden) 222,000
Sid Harris (UK) 213,000
Jules Kuusik (Sweden) 196,000
Oscar Schweinebarth (Sweden) 173,000
Despite the pleasure of reaching the final stages, the players would be fearful of an early exit at this stage since only £10,000 would be collected finishing in 9th or worse, yet first place would be worth a whopping 50 times more! It's a very steep prize structure and difficult to call fair. Certainly, this is the one time when you really want your luck to stay with you, and Vicky Coren found hers closely in tow when she was in a large pot with AK against Michel Abecassis' KK. After a blank flop, things looked poor for Coren, and then the magic ace spiked the turn. On such an event does a life change! The unlucky Frenchman was left with a just £10,000 and a clutch of "what-ifs" to think about.
The other three £10K wads were distributed to Messrs Molander, Hayles and Schweinebarth, leaving a TV table of eight finalists (in rounded chip count order) as follows:
Chad Brown (Seat 1) 759,000
Emad Tahtouh (Seat 2) 680,000
Vicky Coren (Seat 8) 600,000
Mike Muldoon (Seat 4) 570,000
Jan Sjavik (Seat 5) 460,000
Peter Hedlund (Seat 6) 380,000
Sid Harris (Seat 3) 270,000
Jules Kuusik (Seat 7) 240,000
Coren improved her position immediately by eliminating Harris with JJ v 99.
The EPT tournaments have been strongholds of the Scandinavian nations in recent events with Swedes, Danes and Norwegians victorious on numerous occasions. There were five more out of the last twelve here but two Swedes had been jettisoned by the time the final table was set. With seven players now remaining, there were still two Swedes and a Norwegian gunning for another EPT title. By the time it was heads-up, they were all at the cashier's cage.
In seventh place was Sweden's Peter Hedlund who went out soon after having lost the bulk of his chips when Chad Brown outbluffed him on a busted draw. The remaining Swede, Jules Kuusik, went next attempting to steal the pot with A5 only to find Mike Muldoon sitting pretty with AJ.
Next out and back across the water was Chad Brown, supported here by glamorous girlfriend and top US poker player, Vanessa Rousso. Brown took a gamble with Q8 and lost to a pocket pair.
With four players now left, and knowing the outcome, you can see how much things can change, when you consider the chip count:
Emad Tahtouh 1,820,000
Jan Sjavik 1,240,000
Mike Muldoon 570,000
Vicky Coren 370,000
Once again, Vicky recovered some chips hitting an ace. By this time, Muldoon had sunk below Vicky's chip count so it was curtains for the Irishman when his 77 failed to stand up to Vicky's A10.
It wasn't to stop there. Sjavik came a cropper at Coren's hands too but only after quality play by both players.
Jan Sjavik raised with 33 and was reraised by Coren with AJ. On a flop of 10 10 9, Coren took her chances with a bold all-in move reckoning that Sjavik will have missed with only five cards out there to match that flop. The clock was called on Sjavik as he too considered that Coren may be bluffing the flop. He finally took a stab and called. "Good call" said Coren. "Bad call" thought Sjavik when he saw the J hit the turn!
Heads up was now between Australian Emad Tahtouh, supported on the rail by 2005 WSOP Champion Joe Hachem, and Vicky Coren. Both had about the same number of chips. The pair had been having plenty of conversation all evening and an intriguing battle was in store. But it was all over in a flash. Tahtouh, out of position, bet out with second pair while Coren simply called his bets down to the river with top pair. Soon afterwards, the Aussie moved in on a straight draw only to find Coren sitting pretty with a flopped nut straight.
Oh, how the poker gods can shine!
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