The EPT Barcelona main event sits on the brink tonight. With the bulk of the 811-strong field now gone everything is poised nicely to reach the money bubble which, judging by the elimination of around 270 players today, should appear in quick time on Day 3.
As with previous days, a few levels on the EPT can throw up as many questions as it answers. With that in mind we can only look at those leading tonight, assess their performances today, and forecast their chances for tomorrow. In keeping with the norms for other EPT classics, the carnage today was brutal. But while there wasn’t always a clear picture through the fog of war from our lofty perch overlooking the battlefield, we can tell you this.
Leading tonight is Xavier Carruggi, from France, who packs up 577,700 having come from out of nowhere with a level to play, snatching the lead.
Chip leader Xavier Carruggi
His was a remarkable performance that gets his picture above the fold on the PokerStars Blog, made all the more impressive when you consider his starting stack today was just 38,000.
The TV table in action
Carruggi managed to avoid the slaughter of the short stacks, the pace of which seemed to ease only slightly as play came to an end. As one member of the TV crew thought back: “This morning… sweet Jesus…”, referring to the quarter of the field that had gone within a couple of hours like he’d just survived a stampede.
The All-In Triangle
But this is the way of the EPT now, regardless of how surprised we are when it materialises, with a revised structure keeping tournament staff, and TV crews, busy from the first order to shuffle up and deal. Only as afternoon turned to evening did the pace abate, but the figure of 141 players remaining is still far below even the most optimistic estimates made 12 hours ago.
Included in those that do remain are some familiar figures.
Last night’s leader Guillaume Darcourt surged once more, moving up to 460,000 early before finishing on 380,000.
Vanessa Selbst continued to make the game look effortless, amassing a huge stack while keeping the presence of mind not to take it for granted. The double NAPT Main Event winner will return with a stack of 364,500 tomorrow.
There was a moment when we were ready to ink Saar Wilf into the blog as chip leader when he turned the nuts in a big hand that took him to more than 700,000. But the Israeli was soon dropping some of it, nearly 300,000 of it, to finish on 430,700. That puts him in the top five, but he may still be ruing the hour.
Also finishing well were Day 1A chip leader Michael Schleich (who said day one leaders don’t stick around?), along with Toni Pettersson, who screeched into second place at the bell with 534,000.
Of the games within a game Victor Ramdin’s encounter with Sam El Sayed ranks as perhaps the best. The pair had been attacking each other, both with chips, and some good natured ribbing, for much of the afternoon and evening. For Ramdin it seemed much of his time was spent battling to escape his short stack, while El Sayed, buoyant after eliminating Bryn Kenney, sucked on his unlit cigar and swaggered his way past Ramdin’s verbals.
Sam El Sayed
But despite El Sayed having more than 300,000 at one point, it was Ramdin with the last laugh. Having finally got some momentum going Ramdin took him on in one last joust and got his man.
Sam El Sayed and Victor Ramdin trading blows
With action folded to him, El Sayed made it 7,100 on the button. Ramdin, waiting in the big blind, made it 21,900 which El Sayed called for a 5♦10♠2♥ flop. Ramdin had time to fire 20,000 at it before El Sayed moved all-in for his last 60,000. Ramdin called immediately with A♥A♠, ultimately rendering El Sayed’s K♠5♠ powerless. It took Ramdin to 240,000 and sent El Sayed to the rail.
Ramdin is among a broad range of magazine cover players returning tomorrow. Others who will be back include Ivan Demidov (napped early, lasted the distance) with 72,900, his countryman Alex Kravchenko (less is sometimes more) back with a pleasantly unpredictable 123,900, and Eugene Katchalov (after a day on TV), well enough on 154,000.
Alex Kravchenko (note the smile)
Those looking for a feel good story might choose the one currently being written by PokerStars SportStar Boris Becker, who, at ease at the table, has lost the tag he might once have had as an easy target. Once the competitive instinct gets warmed up it counts for something and Becker, who survived an all-in today, bags up 54,600 tonight.
Latin American raiders Leo Fernandez and Andre Akkari will also be back, adding their names to tomorrow’s player list, finishing just two black chips apart on 157,500 and 157,700 respectively.
On the flip side former champions were among the departed.
Ronny Kaiser, Kevin Stani, Kent Lundmark, Jason Mercier, Sebastian Ruthenberg, Arnaud Mattern and David Vamplew will all have to wait until at least EPT London for their chance at a repeat. They were joined on the rail by, among others, champions of a different kind Luca Pagano, Nacho Barbero and Jonathan Duhamel.
A side event entrant waiting to happen – Jason Mercier
They leave behind what will be another action filled day at Gran Casino Barcelona tomorrow.
You’ll find all you need to know about who is left in and how many chips they have on the official chip count page, which will be made official as soon as officials give it the official all clear. In the meantime, the links below will take you through all the action from today. Sure, it’s like reading yesterday’s newspaper and the coupons have all expired, but you might find something you missed the first time round.
That’s all from Barcelona, another memorable day on the EPT. Play continues at noon tomorrow when the field will jump back into the pressure cooker and reduced to 24. You’ll find all the action from the start, right here.
Until then it’s good night from Barcelona.
All photography © Neil Stoddart.