Big Mistakes and Lots of Luck But Rémi Castaignon Blunders Through EPT Deauville
February 24, 2013 1 Comment
By Robert Hainault
Before the Main Event of the European Poker Tour Deauville you might have been excused for asking, ‘Who is Rémi Castaignon?’ The 29-year-old Frenchman has lifetime winnings of $1,059,266, but until February 9th he had never cashed in a live tournament.
Castaignon, who won his seat through an online qualifier, arrived at the final table as the clear chip leader with over 40% of the chips in play and three times the stack of his nearest rival, Lebanese player Walid Bou Habib.
It might have been a relaxed first few hands for Castaignon but around him the action was less leisurely. Jeffrey Hakim who came to the table with only 11 big blinds was knocked out in the very first hand when he shoved with ace king and unfortunately ran into the pocket aces of brightly-hatted German Enrico Rudelitz.
Castaignon had certainly earned his place at the final table having knocked out eight of the fifteen players the day before, including the last three, and with his easy lead couldn’t stay out of the action for long, losing 3 million in chips with hole fives to Rudelitz’s top set on the sixth hand and going down to second place.
It might have been a bad read by Castaignon, or his lack of experience playing in live tournaments, but faced by a three-bet pre-flop by Rudelitz, a chunky continuation bet on the flop itself, a bet of one million on the turn and an all-in bet on the river, on a board with three overcards it was hard to figure out what Castaignon thought he was beating shy of a maniacal bluff.
However, it was these kinds of big calls, combined with lucky turns and rivers that got Castaignon to the final table in the first place. When he turned his set into tens full of jacks on the river against Rudelitz to hammer his German rival’s already-dwindling stack I began to think – with a lot of help from lady luck and perhaps a bit too much heart – the online qualifier might be fated to take down Deauville’s ninth EPT. An hour and a half later he was heads-up against Walid Bou Habib and had nearly two thirds of the chips in play.
Bou Habib might have had experience on his side with six previous EPT main event cashes since 2008, but – even despite his distractingly shiny pate – against Castiagnon’s impressive chip lead it was always going to be difficult to take the title.
Despite more fishy calls from Castaignon – such as peeling off a total of 1.32 million in chips by calling a board with flush, straight, and top set possibilities with only ace high in his pocket and no draws (which wouldn’t beat even the lightest of semi-bluffs) – the Frenchman drove on, skilfully exploiting his stack size and constantly putting pressure on his opponent. It might have been reckless egotism that saw him paying for too many feather-light hands according to poker strategists, but from a meta-game angle the message was clear, if unintentional: if you want to bluff the mammoth stack, you’d better watch out because Castaignon is coming to call. A few hands later he woke up with queens and with a little trappy play shot up to 7-3 favourite to win.
Before long, Bou Habib had gone all in with king eight suited and Castaignon called with his pair of treys. The flop came six, four, five rainbow giving Castiagnon the up-and-down straight draw, but a seven, eight or king would kill Castaignon’s hand. A ten on the turn helped neither of them. Bou Habib still needed his seven, eight or king when the river revealed an ace making Catastaignon’s first ever live cash an impressive 770,000 euros to go with his new title as EPT Deauville Main Event champion 2013.
It might have been a rocky road with some big mistakes for the obscure Frenchman, but his aggressive style coupled with some serious luck took him to victory. He might not have been the best player at the table, but he had the heart to see himself through. Even though my eyes will be on Bou Habib and Rudelitz in future tournaments, now no-one who follows poker can ask: ‘Who is Rémi Castaignon?’