By Frank Op de Woerd and Lisa Yiasemides
It was the Sonny Franco show in the WPT DeepStacks Paris Main Event with a truly dominating performance. The Marrakech-based Frenchman put on a master class of poker with excellent bets, disciplined laydowns, and a majestic under-repped aces hand that will be talked about for some time.
Franco did not just take home the €200,000 first-place prize, the WPTDS Paris trophy, and a €2,000 seat to the WPTDS European Championship in Deauville, but he also takes the lead in the WPTDS European Poker Player of the Year leaderboard. Should he hold on to that lead, he will win €10,000 worth of tournament credits that can be used in any WPT flagship tournament next season.
The French father-of-one is a force to be reckoned with on the poker circuit, and his expert-level of play was on display in Paris! Having come close but ultimately finishing runner-up in WPTDS Brussels last November, now he finally has a WPTDS trophy to showcase his exceptional talent.
“I’m really happy,” Franco said moments after his win. “I was disappointed that I didn’t manage to get the job done in Brussels, and I felt more pressure during this event than before. But I was determined to go the distance!”
|Jean Paul Pasqualini
|Duco ten Haven
After an early departure by Xavier Mouysset, who ran jacks into kings, the final nine combined to one table for the first time. One more needed to go before the final table was reached, and unfortunately for Ivan Sheptyskyi, he was the one who missed out on a seat after he got it in with ace-king against Sonny Franco’s six-four suited. Franco had his Ukrainian opponent drawing dead on the turn, and Sheptyskyi exited in ninth place.
After the last eight players posed for the final table photo, the action got back underway. A double up for short stack Jean Paul Pasqualini with tens versus nines was the first pot to get the railbirds exited.
Moments after that double, Gilles Gauyacq departed in eighth. The Frenchman got his chips in with nines versus ace-jack and saw his opponent hit a jack to take the lead. No nine appeared on the turn or river, and Gauyacq said his goodbyes.
Dutchman Duco ten Haven lost the last of his chips not much later, getting it in with ace-nine against ace-queen. The best hand remained in the lead throughout the flop, turn, and river, and Ten Haven headed to the payout desk in seventh place.
With now just six players remaining, the tournament got into a bit of a stalemate. For six hours, no player hit the rail. That didn’t mean there was a lack of action as some huge calls and interesting pots were on display for the world to see via the live stream. While Sonny Franco kept the lead throughout this period, the other players traded places frequently.
WPT Prague champion Marcin Wydrowski finished in 5th place (€49,500)
Eventually, the stacks got shallower, and more and more all-ins were seen. After six hours of no bust-outs, the next forty-five minutes would see three players exit.
Marcin Wydrowski was the unlucky player to break the drought. The WPT Prague winner sat in second place at the time, so you know it was a set-up to see him go in fifth place. Franco pushed the action and made the all-in move from the button. Wydrowski called with queens from the small blind and was soon getting the unpleasant news that the only player that could bust him, actually had a real hand this time. Franco revealed ace-king and hit an ace on the flop to take the lead. The turn brought some chop outs, but no wheel was seen on the river, and the tournament was four-handed.
For a moment, it looked like Ouassini Mansouri was the next player with his head on the chopping block. He already had his jacket on and was halfway out the door when he got it in with king-ten against ace-nine with the latter hitting an ace on the flop. A king on the turn and ten on the river later, though, he took his jacket off and sat back down again.
Ouassini Mansouri was already saying his goodbyes when he made a miracle runner-runner to stay alive and get right back in it
Florent Estegassy departed in fourth place losing king-nine to queens and short stack Lianmin Bai followed him to the rail a couple of hands later losing ace-three suited to ace-king.
That left Sonny Franco to square off heads-up against his friend Ouassini Mansouri with a 20 million to 6 million lead. It didn’t take long for the two of them to get their chips in the middle. With two overs and a flush draw for Mansouri and top-pair and a good kicker for Franco, the writing was on the wall. The chips flew in, and the two held their breaths.
“For the title, for the glory, for the cash!” commentator Fintan Gavin shouted on the live stream.
The turn paired Franco, and the river brought no flush for Mansouri, and the tournament was over. Sonny Franco was crowned champion of the hugely successful WPTDS Paris Main Event. From a field of 853 entries, he was the last man standing, and he got €200,000 to show for it!
Asked if he was about to throw a party, Franco shared he had no particular plans. “I am missing my son, so I want to get home to my family as soon as possible.”
Next up for the WPT DeepStacks tour is WPTDS Amsterdam, taking place March 7-15 with the Main Event taking place March 12-15. After that, WPTDS Deauville awaits April 8-13, the final event of the WPTDS season. “I will be at Deauville for sure, in order to try to get some more points [for the leaderboard]!” Franco said.
All photos courtesy of Tomas Stacha