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WPT on FSN Grand Prix de Paris Part I: A Star-Studded Final Table at the Aviation Club

Mike Sexton & Vince Van Patten kick things off in Paris.

It seems that each year one final table on the World Poker Tour is composed of all well-known pros. That was the case at the Grand Prix de Paris, which was featured on last night’s episode of the WPT on FSN.

Season XI of the World Poker Tour continued on Fox Sports Network Sunday night with the first of three episodes from the Grand Prix de Paris, a €7,500 Main Event that attracted 228 entries at the Aviation Club in Paris, France, in September of 2012. The €1,624,500 prize pool was distributed to the top 27 players, with €400,000 reserved for the eventual winner.

Now that I’ve set the stage, let me disclose that, like so many other people, I have an affinity for Paris. Granted, I’ve never been there, but through pop culture it has become a city that is revered for culture, architecture and rich history. However, for me, it has always held a special place in my heart for poker. Even since Tony G verbally brutalized his opponents on his way to a runner-up finish to Surinder Sunar in Season III, I’ve always regarded the Aviation Club as a venue to be crossed off my bucket list. In the meantime, the WPT’s annual visit and subsequent broadcast has served as a suitable stand-in.

Kicking Things Off: This week’s episode, the first of three-episodes, began by featuring the early stages of the tournament. While this was a re-entry event, it was unique in that it allowed players to enter both days regardless of whether or not they survived Day 1a. For those who did, they would simply advance to Day 2 with whatever starting-flight stack was larger.

Do You Have a Reservation, Sir?: Who travels around the world without a place to stay? Apparently Mohsin Charania and his travel mate Faraz Jaka are two players who do just that. They both showed up to play the WPT Grand Prix de Paris without so much as a hotel reservation. “I don’t know where I’m sleeping tonight. The plan was to figure it out at the end of the day, but now I think me and my roommate, Faraz Jaka, are going to go find a hotel room during our dinner break,” Charania explained to the cameras.

Jason Mercier in action.
Jason Mercier in action.

No Mercy Mercier: Many players tighten up around the money bubble, and that’s a great opportunity for experience pros with no regard for a min-cash to accumulate some chips. That’s exactly what Jason Mercier tried to do in a hand on the stone bubble against Raphael Abitbol. Mercier got frisky with the {2-Hearts}{4-Hearts} against Abitbol’s {A-Spades}{Q-Spades}, and things heated up on an {a-Diamonds}{3-Hearts}{2-Clubs} flop. When the {10-Hearts} turned, Mercier moved all in and put his opponent to the test. It was prime example of pressure poker, but such moves don’t always work out. Abitbol called and Mercier missed the river, leaving him crippled. Mercier managed to make it through the bubble but was the first elimination, earning $17,154 for his 27th-place finish.

Speaking of the bubble, Frenchman and poker pro Antony Lellouche earned bubble-boy honors when he ran the {K-Clubs}{K-Clubs} straight into the {A-Spades}{A-Diamonds} of Bryan Colin.

Some WPT Grand Prix de Paris Facts: Throughout the broadcast some interesting facts were revealed. Here are a few that you might not know:

  • No French player was seated among the final six — a first in the event’s history.
  • The final table was an international affair with two players from the U.S., two from Germany, one from Canada, and one from Denmark.
  • Theo Jorgensen, who won the Grand Prix de Paris in Season IX, was at the final table and hoped to become the first player in WPT history to win the same event twice.

Here’s how things stacked up at the start of the final table, which began with the blinds at 8,000/16,000 and a 2,000 ante:

WPT Season XI Grand Prix de Paris Final Table

1Matt Salsberg1,757,000 (109 BBs)
2Philipp Gruissem776,000 (48 BBs)
3Theo Jorgensen1,169,000 (73 BBs)
4Fabian Quoss510,000 (31 BBs)
5Timothy Adams1,198,000 (74 BBs)
6Mohsin Charania1,435,000 ( 89 BBs)

The Final Table Fashion Report: Mike Sexton has always said it’s good for the games when players dress up for the TV final table. So did the Grand Prix de Paris finalists take his advice? Here’s my take on each player's wardrobe.

  • Theo Jorgensen—A t-shirt is blasé, but when it’s decked out with Team PokerStars patches people will take notice. Patches signify sponsorship, and sponsorship is success. It’s not dressy per se, but it is classy. Grade: B
  • Philipp Gruissem—Speaking of T-shirts, that is what the young German donned. Unfortunately for him, he didn’t have the benefit of patches. I wasn’t impressed by his clothing choice, but then again, if I know Philbort, he doesn’t care what anybody thinks. Grade: C-
  • Timothy Adams—I’ve met Adams on numerous occasions, and he’s a really nice guy. He’s a bit quiet and reserved, and this was reflected in his attire on the broadcast. An upscale blue hoodie and nice watch weren't overly fancy but weren't bad either. Grade: B-
  • Matt Salsberg—While a nice black zip-up hoodie isn’t too flashy for most people, it kind of is for Salsberg, who is prone to throwing on whatever is comfortable for a poker tournament. I give him an “A” for effort but not for attire. Grade: C+
  • Fabian Quoss—I’ve covered Fabian Quoss at numerous tournaments, and he has a certain style (something Kyle Julius learned when he lost a bet at this year’s PCA that required him to play a tournament in Quoss’ clothing). Quoss was wearing one of his normal shirts, a long-sleeve purple getup with a PartyPoker patch, but it was missing his trademark scarf. What a shame. Grade: C+
  • Mohsin Charania—I'm not quite sure what Mohsin was wearing. It looked like a black long-sleeve button-up with some sort of vest over it, though it all could have been one shirt. It was hard to tell and I didn't really care for it. That doesn't mean it wasn't nice, it just wasn't my cup of tea. Grade: C

The Royal Flush Girls: You know I love my Royal Flush Girls, and I was loving it when a quick shot was shown of Jeannie and Brittany watching the action in a pair of tight blue dresses. Speaking of Brittany, she recently joined Rich Ryan, Kristy Arnett and me for Episode #145 of the PokerNews Podcast. It’s not often that a girl can make me blush, but she managed to do just that. To find out how, you’ll have to give the interview a listen.

“I’m Going to Take Everything You Have”: The WPT aired a few clips from past Grand Prix de Prix including some sound bites from Tony G and Greece’s George Paravoliasakis. If you recall, “The Greek” was famous for uttering, “The isle of Crete!” back in Season II. On the flip side, Tony G made a name for himself in Season III as you can see in the nostalgic video below:

The Plaques: “I love the plaques, that’s what distinguished European events from American event,” Mike Sexton commentated. If you’ve ever watched the WPT Grand Prix de Paris, you know what he’s talking about. In addition to chips, players have plaques that usually represent the highest denomination in play. They look like a stack of coasters, but a lot of players love their inclusion. I’ve never had occasion to play with them, but I’ll admit that I like them and would like to see them used in more tournaments on both sides of the pond.

Fabian Quoss
Fabian Quoss

The Germans do Battle: The first elimination of the final table was a German, but to discover which one it was you’ll have to read on. In the hand, which occurred in Level 23 (10,000/20,000/3,000), Philipp Gruissem looked down at the {Q-Diamonds}{Q-Hearts} in early position and min-raised to 40,000. Fabian Quoss then shoved the cutoff for 132,000 holding the {K-Diamonds}{J-Hearts}. The button and blind both folded, and Gruissem made a snap-call.

“That was quick,” Quoss said as he looked down at his friend. Quoss then grabbed his coffee and took a sip. The {3-Spades}{9-Diamonds}{j-Diamonds} flop gave Quoss a pair of jacks, but he needed even more help to stay alive. The {7-Clubs} turn wasn’t what he needed, and neither was the {2-Clubs} river. The 30-year-old pro gave his fellow German a bro hug and then took his leave in sixth place for $97,684.

“I didn’t get to play much today, but throughout the whole tournament I’m pretty happy with my play,” a crestfallen Quoss said in his exit interview.

Tune in Next Week: Part II of the Grand Prix de Paris is set to air on Sunday, April 14 on FSN, so be sure to check your local listings. If by chance you miss it, check back next week for the latest recap of all the action here on PokerNews.

Who will be the next player to add his or her name to this prestigious list of champions?

Past Grand Prix de Paris Champions

Former Grand Prix de Paris champions.
Former Grand Prix de Paris champions.

1*Christer Johansson€500,000
2David Benyamine€357,200
3Surinder Sunar€679,860
4Roland de Wolfe€479,680
5Christian Grundtvig€712,5
9Theo Jorgensen€633,902
10Matthew Waxman€518,750

*Called Euro Finals of Poker
*Pictures courtesy of World Poker Tour.

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