EPT London: The Showdown continues...
If you were up late last night in London, kept the computer on during Sunday night football or the Championship game back in the States, or just logged in this morning to check out the latest news, you'll know that the biggest buy-in tournament on the EPT, the EPT £1 Million Showdown, creaked towards a final table last night at the Victoria Casino in London.
Watch EPT London 08: £1,000,000 Show Down on PokerStars.tv
As Michael Martin had bestowed upon him all the honours of becoming the EPT London champion, before being ushered towards a bar for some light refreshments to celebrate; three tables were slogging away a few feet along, 21 players. Now that figure stands at just 14.
What's all the fuss? This is the first event of its kind, at least for the European Poker Tour, a £20,000 buy-in ($35,000) deep stack marathon. Then there's the money - a first prize of more than £500,000.
The plan was to play down to a final table in just one day, like one of those extreme sports found on three figure TV channels late at night, and they nearly made it. But despite the protests of some players, famous for having little use for a 24 hour clock, officials drew the line at 14, calling time at 2.30am.
That's good for us because if the standard of play is as good as yesterday you won't want to miss a beat.
So who's left?
For starters Team PokerStars Pro Isabelle Mercier. "No Mercy" played solid poker for 12 hours yesterday and found a little mercy for herself right when she needed it, catching a break when all-in with A-Q against A-K. The queen bailed her out, leaving her with close to 100,000 and an expression on her face that said she didn't intend to waste it.
Team PokerStars Pro Isabelle Mercier
David Benyamine leads going into today, a stack of 295,900 making him chip leader. Just two days ago the Frenchman finished 12th in the EPT London main event and this stands as a good way to make amends. Then there's Jason Mercier, third in chips, who since winning the EPT San Remo seems to crop up at the top of chip count lists everywhere.
Million Dollar Man Dennis Phillips
Others include WSOP H.O.R.S.E. champion Scotty Nguyen and recent WSOP Europe winner John Juanda, building on an incredible run of form this week. PokerStars players Michael Watson and Isaac Haxton are not far behind, and Million Dollar Man Dennis Phillips also eased his way into the last day yesterday.
It could have been even better for Team PokerStars. Daniel Negreanu busted when down to two tables and it was the same fate for Barry Greenstein.
Team PokerStars Pro Daniel Negreanu
But you still won't need much back ground info on the candidates for the final, all of whom have track records that glitter with credentials.
David Benyamine, France, 295,900
Alexander Roumeliotis, Sweden, 229,400
Jason Mercier, USA, 161,200
Scotty Nguyen, USA, 159,100
Masaaki Kagawa, Japan, 159,000
John Juanda, USA, 138,900
Michael Watson, Canada, PokerStars player, 118,000
Christopher Jetten, Canada, 105,100
Isabelle Mercier, Canada, Team PokerStars Pro, 99,200
Isaac Haxton, USA, PokerStars player, 83,200
Dennis Phillips, USA, Million Dollar Man, 73,200
Ghassan Bitar, Ghana, 58,700
Andrew Feldman, UK, 33,000
Jani Sointula, Finland, 6,500
We'll have the official word on each of them when we reach the final, before that it's all about the poker.
Right now a security guard stands over a one foot high pile of £50 notes, wearing a tunic of lapels and polished buttons, looking suspicious, under orders only to release the cash to the winner later tonight.
There's only one way to find out who that will be. Let battle begin.