At the start of five-handed play, Sotirios Koutoupas of Greece and the Ukrainian Eugene Katchalov bookended the chip counts, with Koutoupas enjoying the lead he’d held all day with more than 7.8 million and Katchalov the table’s short stack with but 1.735 million.
In between the pair were three British players — Harry Law, Oliver Price, and Eli Heath — but by the time two levels plus a few hands more had passed all three would be gone, setting up a Koutoupos-Katchalov finale.
The Team PokerStars Pro would initially become even shorter-stacked, slipping below 1 million for a time then open-shoving on multiple occasions. At the start of Level 29 Katchalov would split a pot with A♥J♦ versus Koutoupas’s A♦4♠ when the board brought three sevens and a king. Then he’d chop another when he and Oliver both showed up with ace-jack after a preflop all-in.
Then Katchalov finally scored a double when his 10♥10♠ held against Law’s A♠J♦. But Law recovered immediately after four-betting pushing with K♥J♠ and getting called by Heath who held K♦Q♥, then flopping a king-high straight and having the hand hold up.
Law’s good fortune was brief, however, after getting all in again with pocket aces against Koutoupas’s A♥K♥. Again the flop favored the underdog, bringing three hearts to give Koutoupas a flush, and just like that Law was sent railward in fifth.
It was just a few hands later a short-stacked Heath committed his remaining stack with A♠8♣ versus Koutoupas’s K♥J♠, and when a jack appeared amid the community cards and Heath earned no improvement, they were down to three.
As Katchalov’s quest for a Triple Crown continued, Koutoupas then completed a triple play of British bustouts by eliminating Oliver Price. Price took his chances with K♠9♣ against Koutoupas’s K♦Q♠, but a queen on the flop made the river nine insufficient for Oliver, out in third.
Koutoupas has a 3-to-1 advantage to begin his duel with Katchalov, sitting behind 15,080,000 worth of chips and plaques while Katchalov has 4,990,000. There’s still most of Level 30 remaining, where the blinds are 50,000/100,000 with a 10,000 ante, meaning despite the discrepancy Katchalov is still quite deep.
Whoever wins it will mark a first ever EPT Main Event win for the represented country, as neither Greece nor Ukraine has a title. Both of these players have come close before, with Koutoupas runner-up at EPT9 Prague and Katchalov taking third at EPT8 Barcelona.
Follow our coverage of the Main Event at EPT Deauville by heading to the main EPT Deauville page. There’s hand-by-hand coverage in the top panel, plus chip counts, and feature pieces below. Follow the High Roller on the High Roller page. EPT Live is also on, so tune in there for a close-up view of the action.
Martin Harris is Freelance Contributor to the PokerStars Blog.