Phil Hellmuth eventually left Cannes with some silverware as reward for his hard-fought efforts over the past two weeks – the Caesar´s Cup trophy. Leading from the front, Hellmuth won the deciding game to ease Team America to a 3-1 victory over Team Europe in the best-of-five series and regain the trophy won by the Europeans on the only other occasion the event was held in 2009.
Leg One Goes to Team America
A late change to the European team saw Tony G replace Dario Minieri, and the enigmatic Party poker pro was forced into the first game, paired with Jake Cody, as the two were still involved in the Main Event which was to resume in a matter of hours. Possibly G and Cody had other matters on their minds, as they were brushed aside in the alternate street format by Ben Lamb and Jason Mercier.
Team Europe Levels Up
In the second leg, alternate heads-up matches were played with both sets of players sharing the same chip stack for betting purposes. Phil Hellmuth paired up with Daniel Negreanu to face up to Europe´s Max Lykov and Gus Hansen, and for a while the Americans looked unstoppable. Fortunately for team Europe, Gus Hansen was able to double up against Daniel Negreanu when hitting a full house, and then Lykov crippled Phil Hellmuth with a massive bluff against which Hellmuth folded. Gus Hansen mopped up Negreanu in the next hand to level the scores.
Johnny Chan Puts Team America Back in Front
The third leg of the Caesar´s Cup challenge saw Team Europe captain, Bertrand Grospelier take on dual WSOP Main Event bracelet winner Johnny Chan in a straightforward Heads-Up. This match started as tense battle between two great minds, but as the blinds rose to 4,000/8,000 (each player had started with 100,000 chips), the game deteriorated into a shoving match. Chan eventually picked the right time to get his chips in the middle with 4♦ 4♥. Grospelier called with A♥ 6♥ but failed to catch on the board – giving Team America a 2-1 lead.
Hellmuth Seals It for Team America
Phil Hellmuth picked himself to represent Team America in leg 4 and, as Bertrand Grospelier´s options were limited with the departure of Tony G and Jake Cody, put up Max Lykov in opposition. Lykov was the aggressor throughout the early stages and, possibly mindful of the bluff Lykov had pulled on Hellmuth previously, the American captain let him get away with it for a while. But then Hellmuth took control of the match – first doubling up with K♠ 7♠ against Lykov´s K♥ 5♠, and then coming from behind with Q♣ 10♠ against Lykov´s K♣ 9♣ to seal victory when the Q♠ on the flop was good enough.
Not Much in the Way of Celebrations
Other than a photo shoot and a few handshakes, there was not a great deal of celebrating from Team America. Daniel Negreanu was unusually subdued and Phil Hellmuth dashed to the airport for an overnight stopover in London on his way back to the USA. The absence of Tony G had killed off the chance of any raucous rivalry throughout the event and even the usually vociferous support of James Bord was muted after he had lost a substantial amount of cash betting on a European victory.
Will the Caesar´s Cup be Played Again?
As far as a TV spectacle, 888 Poker sponsored Padraig Harrington (who was sitting at home recovering from a recent heart attack) commented “Caesar´s Cup? I would have rather watched a Caesar Salad – More personality and less vegetables”. Indeed, it was no great spectacle due to the absence of Doyle Brunson – who would have brought some class into the proceedings – and because of the confusing formats of the legs. Maybe when online poker returns to the States, there may be sufficient justification through sponsorship to repeat the Caesar´s Cup again, but for now … … who knows?