We may just have seen the level that secures Ramzi Jelassi is on course to win a first EPT title, if pure grit is anything to go by. Jelassi just endured a rollercoaster 90 minutes that slashed his stack from 11 million to around six, before he rallied back to where he'd left off.
It all started when Jelassi lost a large hand against Sotirious Koutoupas. As the Greek called Jelassi could only muck, watching a sizeable pot slip away.
The Greek supporters were delighted, rushing the stage. One of them, chanting with some spleen, re-hung a small Greek flag, the kind that is normally clipped to the inside of car window for international football matches. But attaching it to the rail wasn't easy, the same material as a seat belt. So while it hung well for a second it gradually went limp. But in that time he'd slapped the hand of Koutoupas with some force, who looked hot under the lights, his forehead starting to glisten.
For his part Jelassi looked pale. The 3 million-plus chips he'd just lost didn't help. Neither did the similar amount he lost in the next hand against Ben Warrington. Jelassi had called the Englishman's all-in with ace-deuce while Warrington, supported by a Spanish crowd (Warrington formerly lived there and has a Spanish girlfriend), showed king-ten, flopping a winning ten.
This shunted Jelassi into second place with 7.9 million, behind the Dutchman David Boyaciyan. But the travails didn't end there. Twenty minutes later another pot, this one against Koutoupas with a back door nut flush, crushed Jelassi further.
By now Jelassi had lost more than four million chips. Had Jelassi gone quiet, or steadily lost more, or even busted, it would not have been an unfamiliar story of the EPT's nine season history. But the ability to put frustration aside often proves key, denoting great players from those that are simply very good.
Jelassi quickly engaged Boyaciyan, taking a pot worth more than three million with a set of sixes. That was enough to take back the lead. Then he won another, this time with the same ace-deuce that had proved costly against Warrington. Jelassi was back up to 10.6 million, while Boyaciyan stooped to 4.7 million. Neither showed any emotion although Jelassi remains pale.
The level ended with a surge from the Koutoupas, who sent Warrington to the rail and eased into the three-handed chip lead by a mere 5,000 over Jelassi. Boyaciyan has work to do with 5.5 million.
It's not over yet, and Koutoupas has the chips and the support to pose a real threat. But you also sense that Jelassi is back in control, something that is not as easy to say for Koutoupas. It's now Jelassi's event to win.
Follow hand-by-hand coverage, plus latest chip counts, in the panel at the top of the main EPT Prague page