2.15am -- And that's it. After a good long while at hand for hand, we've lost Alex Marques in a classic, nasty aces versus kings battle. Julien had the aces -- like he needed them -- and Alex's kings never caught up. Julien is going to the final table with close to a million. Alex is going home.
1.50am -- There are ten left and we're playing hand for hand on two tables until we decide tomorrow's final.
Still in the field:
Juan Carlos Burguillos
1.50am -- By far and away the loudest cheers of the the day so far accompany a near double-up for Alex Brenes and the exit of Alex Fitzgerald. The online pro "Assassinator" got it in good, with ace-queen against ace-seven. Bellow of "siete! siete!" from the rail were answered on the river when that seven popped to give Brenes a bunch and send Fitzgerald out.
1.45am -- Bruno Gonzalez is our 12th placed finisher. It was a battle of the blinds but it all went in pre-flop after Nikolai Senniger raised from the small and Bruno pushed from the big. Bruno must have thought Nikolai was on the steal because he could only muster jack-nine when Nikolai called. Senniger had ace-king and Bruno was gone.
1.35am -- We've lost Farhad Sinaei in what can only be described as a cooler at this time of the night. Farhad raises pre-flop, Vitaly calls. The flop comes A-10-8. Vitaly checks, Farhad makes a small bet, Vitaly calls. The turn is a four and Vitaly checks again. Farhad bets again. Vitaly calls. The river is a jack and Vitaly keeps checking. Farhad ends up all in for the remainder of his 110,000 stack, which Vitaly gleefully calls and shows his pocket tens that have made a set. Farhad is sick to turn over A-8 for two pair. But he's out.
1.30am -- The strong local showing has brought out some of the most rowdy crowds this side of the Maracana:
But it's not such fun for the players, as the anguish etched on the faces of Alex Brenes, left, and Vitaly Kovyazin suggests:
1.25am -- As a corollary to the information below, the relatively short stacks under threat belong to Oliver Kugler, Rafael Pardo and Bruno Gonzales, who are all on the same table.
1.20am -- We have entered level 19, where the blinds are 5,000-10,000 and the ante is 1,500. For people who like the sadism of all this, one big blind now represents one player, who paid $2,500 for their original stack of 10,000 chips. We have 13 players, with the main contenders still Julien Nuijten, Alex Fitzgerald, Juan Carlos Burguillos and, after making a charge with his short stack, Alex Marques.
1.15am -- We've lost another, and this time it's Andreas Rieger, from Germany, who takes 14th place. It's folded to him on the button, and he shoves his short stack -- of no more than 50,000 -- into the middle. The small blind gets out the way, but Eduardo Henriques tanks in the big blind. Then he calls, and shows A-Qc, which stays the best hand against Andreas's button steal with J-5h.
1.05am -- Chip leader Julien Nuijten reminds everyone that he's still here -- like we've forgotten -- by scooping a pot of close to 100,000 against Vitaly Kovyazin. There's some fairly tame pre-flop action then a queen high board. Then they get a little tricky, with Vitaly leading, Julien calling, all the way to the river. Julien shows Q-J and Vitaly pocket fives.
12.45am -- It has slowed a whole bunch here in Rio after a succession of frantic bust outs. We still have 14 players and are playing down to nine tonight. There's been some odd play, if the truth be known, with the standard raise (on table one at least) being barely more than the minimum. Rafael Pardo had clearly noticed this, and when it was his big blind of 8,000 "attacked" from the button with a raise to just 20,000, he simply bumped it up. Bruno Gonzales, who had been the raiser, ended up passing when asked to invest 35,000 more. Pardo showed 10-7 off-suit but the message was clear enough: stop that mini-raising.
12.25am -- We've lost another, and this time it was Micha Hoedemaker who took the walk. He found ace-king at the same time that Alex Marques had found aces. It all went in pre-flop and the board bricked. Hoedemaker, a PokerStars qualifier from Holland, takes $8,635 for 15th.
12.20 -- First hand back from the break and Andreas Riege doubles up. He gets it all in pre-flop behind pocket eights and Bruno Gonzales calls with pocket sixes. There are no horrific two-outers and Riege has 130,000 to play with.
With 15 players remaining, we took a full chip count:
1 -- Andreas Riege -- 60,000
2 -- empty
3 -- Bruno Gonzales -- 118,000
4 -- Eduardo Henriques -- 125,000
5 -- Rafael Pardo -- 205,000
6 -- empty
7 -- Juan Carlos Burguillos -- 202,000
8 -- Nicolai Senniger -- 245,500
1 -- Farhad Sinaei -- 116,000
2 -- Julien Nuijten -- 625,000
3 -- Alex Brenes -- 240,000
4 -- Vitaly Kovyazin -- 340,000
5 -- Alex Marques -- 60,000
6 -- Severin Walser -- 153,000
7 -- Micha Hoedemaker -- 55,000
8 -- Alex Fitzgerald -- 250,000
9 -- empty
12.00 -- Ricardo Fasanaro is out in 16th. He found pocket sixes and got it all in, but Eduardo Henriques' kings and a bigger stack were always dominant.
A ten minute break followed for the 15 remaining.
11.40pm -- Juan Carlos Buguillos can do no wrong. He had just eliminated Eugenio Carmo with J-10 against kings, all in pre flop. The jack-ten made a jack-high straight and Carmo is out in 17th place. They're now redrawing and we'll have a full chip count momentarily.
11.35pm -- The brave resistance of Rodrigo Balbi is over. He's been pushing his short stack all in repeatedly and mostly getting them through. But this time, Juan Carlos Burguillos went nowhere with his ace-queen and Balbi's ace-seven was dominated. Balbi departs with $7,065 for 18th.
11.20pm -- Alberto Cunha is eliminated in 19th place. The Brazilian player calls the all in of Severin Walser, which is actually an undercall. Severin has 5-5, Cunha A-J and there's no improvement. The Swiss Severin moves up to about 163,000.
11.05pm -- Alex Brenes knocks out Nicolas Ragot. Ragot, in the big blind, is all in for 115,000, re-raising Brenes's button raise. Brenes calls. Ragot shows Q-J -- a semi-bluff, possibly suspecting a button steal -- but Brenes shows A-10. It goes all the way and the A-10 is good.
Our Brazilian blogger then caught up with Humerto Brenes, Alex's brother, to check whether he had a percentage of his high-flying sibling. "No," said the PokerStars Team Pro. "My percentage is just to see the Brenes name in the tournament."
11pm -- Double up, to more than 300,000, for Rafael Pardo. Rodrigo Balbi moves all in under the gun, for the second time in a row. Pardo thinks for a while, but eventually also moves in, for about 150,000. Everyone gets out of the way and they show J-J (Balbi) and Q-Q Pardo.
There's some excitement when the board comes 8-9-10, but when the jack comes on the turn to make Balbi's set, it makes the straight for Pardo. Balbi scratching the felt.
10.45pm -- There are pocket jacks, there are pocket kings and there are all the chips in the middle. Sjoero Bos has the jacks and Vitaly Kovyazin the kings, and the New Yorker (Kovyazin) wins a 250,000 chip pot. Bos takes 21st place.
10.35pm -- Short stack double up. Manecop has 6-6, Alex Fitzgerald makes a routine call with A-K. But the Assassinato fails to catch up and Manecop is up to 112,000 an Fitzgerald is down to 230,000.
10.30pm -- Jose Severino is eliminated by Eduardo Henriques. He gets a bit unlucky, finding his A-5 outdrawn by the Brazilian's K-J. Both king and jack flopped, and Severino was severed. He's out in 22nd.
10.25pm -- And Victor is all in again, this time with 6-6 versus K-Q. But a king and a queen flop, leaving Victor drawing to the final two sixes. They don't appear, and Ramdin is out in 23rd. That's good for $7,065 and although he's smiling, Victor wanted to go far further.
10.20pm -- Team PokerStars Pro's final remaining player, Victor Ramdin, gets his short stack in the middle behind pocket kings. They stand against pocket eights.
* * * * *
OK, let's try to catch up.
After a relatively slow period shortly before dinner, it's gone utterly rampant here in Rio. (Please bear in mind I could have written "nuts in Brazil" so please admire the restraint.)
There was an absolutely massive pot that played out on table four moments ago, when two of the chip leaders went head to head in a huge pre-flop raising battle that ended with about 650,000 in the pot. When they turned them over, we knew why.
Andrew Li was just outchipped by Julien Nuijten but Li had pocket kings. Nuijten had queens and the considerable tournament lead was up for grabs.
Li must have felt good, but it all went south when a queen came on the turn, giving the Dutch player about 700,000, a bad beat, and a huge chance to steam to the final table.
After that, they broke a table and we're down to three. We'll record all the action here.
Selected chip counts can be found HERE
A reminder of who has won how much so far can be found HERE
And full video coverage can be found over at PokerStars.tv