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EPT Monte Carlo Day 4: Chouity Leads the Final 8
A 23-year-old online qualifier from Beirut, Lebanon took the PokerStars European Poker Tour Grand Final by storm Thursday.
And when Nicolas Chouity heads into the final table in Monte Carlo Friday, he will bring with him just under 40% of the chips in play and all the confidence that comes with a seemingly insurmountable lead.
"It's like a dream," he told PokerListings. "It's fantastic, nothing like this has ever happened to me. Everything is going in the right direction for me."
While top flight pros like Nick Schulman, Ramzi Jelassi and Sami Kelopuro hit the rail throughout the Grand Final's penultimate day, it appeared Chouity could do no wrong.
"Today was perfect," he said. "We started today with a couple of tough players, but they were unlucky and busted and although some of the players left are still good, that gave me a lot of confidence."
And it's that kind of confidence he will bring into the final eight tomorrow.
"I don't know what to say, but I am very confident," he said. "I'm going to go for first and first only."
Chouity, who started playing poker online and qualified for the event through a $22 turbo satellite on PokerStars, has played six EPT's this season and says his confidence and level of play seems to be growing with each one.
"The more you play the more experience you get and you learn how to manage your chips and influence the players," he said.
The most experienced player Chouity will have to get through on his way to the title appears to be Canadian Andrew Chen.
The 22-year-old already had a final table appearance on the PokerStars LAPT when he final tabled EPT Prague in 2008, coming third. He will come into his second EPT final table third in chips.
The closest player to Chouity is 34-year-old Parisian Mesbah Guerfi, who has several cashes on his resume, including a seventh-place finish at the 2009 Grand Prix de Paris for €52,440.
22-year-old Lithuanian Dominykas Karmazinas, who has been playing on the EPT the past two seasons, is right behind the top three, with 26-year-old Aleh Plauski from Belarus, a PokerStars qualifier whose biggest live score until now was a 13th place finish at WPT Cyprus, closely in tow.
47-year-old Frenchman Herve Costa, who calls himself a recreational player, is next, followed by 42-year-old Austrian Chess pro turned poker player Josef Klinger.
Finally, the shortest stack is well-known French pro Roger Hairabedian, 55.
There's a €1.7 million first-place prize on the line in Monaco and the entire group appears focused on that.
"€1.7 million is not small money," said Chouity. "It's life changing money."