France will have to wait on their first World Series of Poker Main Event title at least one more year. After Sylvain Loosli, Benjamin Pollak and Antoine Saout, twice, came close before, tonight it was Antoine Labat who fell short busting in ninth place collecting $1,000,000 for his efforts.
Labat’s story of the 2018 WSOP Main Event was riddled with kings, keeping him alive versus aces earlier in the event, sending his tournament into a tailspin last night, and ending it on the final table versus the pocket queens of Artem Metalidi.
“Kings were the hand of my tournament,” Labat sighed after hitting the rail, “My entire story of this tournament revolves around kings, and I think it just had to finish like this. I think it was destiny.”
The 12-year pro, who predominantly plays online poker, felt and enjoyed the pressure as he went deeper and deeper into the tournament, and overall he looks back on a positive experience that he’ll never forget.
“It’s really an amazing experience and it makes me want to play more big tournaments like this. It’s a unique feeling, and so different from online poker where you just click through hands and you never get time to enjoy the moment.”
While Labat is able to find a smile despite busting in ninth place, full well realizing the odds he overcame to make it through a field of 7,874 to get a seat at the table, there’s still a sense of bitterness associated with seeing the eight others battle on.
“I should probably only be winning $15,000 in this event,” Labat said, explaining that he doubled up with kings versus aces on Day 4, “But still, I’ve been waiting for this moment for so long.”
Labat was able to share his greatest accomplishment in poker with his girlfriend, but unfortunately for him, his sister only landed minutes before his elimination and she was unable to see her brother in action. His friends and family in France stayed up all through the night to watch Antoine make the final table, only to see their favorite player lose one of the most epic hands in the history of the Main Event on the bubble.
Less than 24 hours after pulling the trigger to create the unlikeliest of showdowns at this stage of the tournament, the regrets about not folding pocket kings start growing on him.
“My only regret about that hand is that I didn’t take enough time. If it wasn’t for the cameras, I might have folded. With the cameras, it felt like I was slow rolling the game, but in the end, it was a huge mistake to call so quickly. I really don’t know why I didn’t take another minute to make my decision.”
Clearly uncertain about whether or not his call was correct, Labat goes back and forth on whether, even with more time, he could’ve found a way to fold the second-best hand in No Limit Hold’em.
“All I’m asking myself is ‘Why? Why Why?’ about deciding in less than a minute, because that was the terrible part of my two-million dollar decision.”
Labat admits that fatigue likely played a role in the speed with which he made the decision, as his gut said to fold but his brain decided to make the call. The Frenchman went as far as saying that the timing of his decision was equal to a blow-up, but all things considered his ninth-place finish in the second largest Main Event of all time is still a highly positive experience.
“It’s going to be tough to digest that hand last night, but overall this is a very positive experience.