News from the ACF and the WPT

John Duthie is demanding we take notice. He really shouldn’t be known as the guy who won a million pounds on television anymore. He’s flat out one of the best no-limit Hold’em tournament players in the world. It’s kind of a mouthful, but he’s twenty times as tough when he’s on TV. John briefly blipped below radar after his mammoth Poker Million win three years ago, but recently he seems to be playing with the creativity and abandonment that characterized his defining moments. It’s hard to think of anyone else who has a game like Duthie’s. He’s capable of nearly any play at any time, has a very instinctive feel for the game, is quiet at the table, and doesn’t possess the slightest capacity for feeling pressure. He thinks the game is fun. A rare animal indeed.

Actually, one guy who reminds me of John Duthie is one of the fellows playing Saturday in the final six of the World Poker Tour 10,000 euro event in Paris, Allen Cunningham. I really don’t know Allen Cunningham at all. I watched him once at length, two years ago when they’d reached the final sixty at the World Series of Poker, I watched Allen while he turned an average stack into a powerful one. Allen Cunningham has the sort of the game where he plays like Buddha after the flop. Perfection.

Allen Cunningham looks like Richie Cunningham, he’s twenty-five years old and a bit tall and gangly, he’s got a tow-headed shock of hair and a game that they’ve been talking about since he came to Las Vegas in diapers. The Vegas crowd has been predicting the young Allen Cunningham to be a world champion for a while now, but nobody’s ready to say what he’ll do next. There were actually a lot of Americans that showed up in Paris for the chance to win a half a million dollars and make it on American TV, but only Allen Cunningham flew from Vegas three weeks early, rented a little Paris appartement in some nice little arrondissement, started buying crusty baguettes in the morning and taking French lessons. In short, he went off his head. And for that reason alone, you have to like the guy to take the half million prize, which will be plenty enough to pay for his meditation classes until the World Series of Poker.

The final table of the Paris tournament looks interesting enough. Chip leader is Christer Johansson, that unflapping Swede who recently made the final table in Amsterdam with his heeby jeeby before the flop re-raises. Christer Johansson is a before the flop genius. But in Amsterdam, however, Johansson was looking a bit out of place once the flop came to town. Devilfish had backed your man when the betting opened on the final table, and he almost fell out of his chair in the gallery when Johansson curdled his stack on the turn.

Three Frenchman and the Australian Tony G complete the six person final on Saturday in Paris. What everybody’s wondering, of course, is will there be a deal. The purse is so top heavy it’s scary, with over 60% to the winner. And after posting 10,000 euros and two days of play, every man has every right to start adding up a paycheck. I’m thinking three guys are praying for the deal and two might be willing to be convinced. And maybe Allen Cunningham is going to wake up from his café and croissant and look around and think how fun it would be to gamble for half a million dollars with average chips.