Mohsin Charania was crowned The PokerStars Monte-Carlo®Casino European Poker Tour Grand Final champion tonight after the type of final that went exactly the way it should have done. Sure, the romantics wanted the first woman to reach an EPT Grand Final, Lucille Cailly, to win in front of a French rail looking for a reason to celebrate. But throughout the week Charania had the edge not just on Cailly, but on the field, becoming the Season 8 Grand Final champion tonight, earning €1,350,000.
Charania took the title after a brief heads-up, and what was a brief final table, with the blinds hoisted high after two long days prior. With play down to two a deal was struck (not as simple as it sounds, it took 20 minutes) and play continued. Charania won one, Cailly won another and so on, until Cailly found ace-king and Charania found queens. There was only one outcome and an uninterested board delivered the title to Charania.
EPT Grand Final Winner Mohsin Charania
"When I'm winning every time I'm all-in it's of awesome benefit to me. I get to sleep in longer," said Charania. "I thought they (his final table opponents) were pretty tough but I felt really good. I thought I was the best player going in luckily the cards helped me prove that."
Cailly's was a distinctively impressive performance. While others around her struggled to find a rhythm, Cailly was sure of herself, not letting the few setbacks she suffered disturb her focus. Instead she ploughed on, powered by a Francophile rail and a few Marlboros. It is the breakthrough result for the Frenchwoman and we'll see more of her when the tour restarts in August.
Play goes heads-up
For the others they would do well to follow the lead set by Charania and Cailly.
Frenchman Bernard Guigon finished third after an impressive display of laddering. Every once in a while a player turns up at a final who seems oblivious to the demands of being on television, of being at a final table or playing in front of an audience. Guigon simply played the game he'd loved for decades and earned €545,000 for it. Unconventional, a little slow perhaps and not on a par with the winner, Guigon deserves a hat tip for the performance nonetheless.
It was all over in just six-and-a-half hours, kicking off at 1.30pm this afternoon with a one hour televised delay on EPTLive.
At the start it had all been about Cailly, thanks mainly to the rail she'd amassed who had sourced a dozen blond wigs at €10 apiece, to support their heroine. Cailly thrived on it and the others could only dream of such encouragement.
Wigs on the rail
Play almost got through a level without an elimination until Daniel Gomez went first. With the blinds already steep for the Spaniard, he found himself with ace-queen and did what he had to do, except he ran it into the jacks of Rodrigo Caprioli and more importantly the kings of Sergio Castelluccio. Gomez got a queen on the flop but nothing more.
The final table
Following in seventh was Clayton Mozdzen, whose desire to win this week was never in doubt. The Canadian set off a string of rapid eliminations. He went when his ace-ten was toppled not by Catelluccio's ace-ten but by Cailly's pocket nines.
The other Canadian at the final, Michael Dietrich followed. Charania found ace-king which swept aside Dietrich's ace-nine. The dust had hardly settled when Caprioli was also busted. He found pocket queens while Castelluccio took him on with ace-eight. Nothing up to the turn; an ace though on the river.
This left four players who settled into a steady tempo, Charania leading, with Guigon holding on by tightening up even further.
Ultimately Castelluccio would go in fourth. He felt confident when he four-bet shoved with jacks and Cailly paused for an agonising period of time before calling with ace-queen. The flop changed nothing but the queen on the turn sent the Italian to the rail, while arming Cailly with the chips she'd need to take on Charania.
It would be wrong to say Guigon came to life, but he doubled up. But his burst of energy could not last for long, and with ace-four he got his chips in, which Charania saw off with king-queen, the flop making him trips.
Both heads-up players put the work in, and like we said, the romantics favoured the Cailly win. But Charania, whose record live begins to rival his online accomplishments, had the edge and merits his EPT Grand Final title, bringing a fantastic season to an end.
The final result:
1st - Mohsin Charania, PokerStars Qualifier, €1,350,000
2nd - Lucille Cailly, PokerStars Qualifier, €1,050,000
3rd - Bernard Guigon, €545,000
4th - Sergio Castelluccio, €400,000
5th - Rodrigo Caprioli, PokerStars Player, €315,000
6th - Michael Dietrich, PokerStars Qualifier, €245,000
7th - Clayton Mozdzen, PokerStars Qualifier, €185,000
8th - Daniel Gomez, €130,000
That's the quick version, you can read the long version on our live coverage page, which also details all the pay-outs from the main event. For everything else check out the links below:
That brings an end to the EPT Grand Final main event, and the season. Well kind of. You can still follow the goings on in the €25,000 High Roller event which is reaching a crucial stage as we speak (and that's without an hour delay). They play to a winner tomorrow.
Also tomorrow is the Tournament of Champions which you can watch in its entirety on EPT Live, complete with hole cards, as well as following the action on the PokerStars Blog.
We're now heading home to re-introduce ourselves to our wives and girlfriends, after a year of writing about people without wives or girlfriends. It was all rather excellent which suggests Season 9 should be too.
For that, we'll see you in August. For now, it's goodnight from Monaco.
All photography © Neil Stoddart