EPT Prague: Four tables for the major money

At the very start of the day - day two at EPT Prague - the tournament director Thomas Kremser announced that we would be playing down to four tables of eight, 32 players, no matter how long it took. Typically, there was a weary groan from the press corps, veterans of this tournament reporting who know that making 177 into 32 can take a lot longer than most people would care to stay in the same room.

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But the groans turned out to be misplaced. The journalists were wrong. Although we ended up playing slightly longer than eight levels, the action was fast and fascinating, with twists and turns along the way to keep even the most cynical hack gripped. The short story is that there are some monstrous stacks in front of some hugely talented players, earned during a day of fierce competition. The chip lead will be contested by the French EPT stalwart Ludovic Lacay (513,000) and and Fredrik Nygaard (609,500), a Finn who won the tournament's largest pot to date, when he took a massive chunk from the PokerStars sponsored player Juan Maceiras (266,500) right at the death.

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Juan Maceiras

The notable absentee from that clutch of talent is the Team PokerStars Pro Dario Minieri, who was the most prized scalp of Raul Mestre's day as barbarian. Minieri was swarmed all day by a baying rail, but they could do nothing when the Italian went heads-up with Mestre, an online cash-game legend, and the Spaniard's A-Q flopped an ace to better Minieri's pocket queens.

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Dario Minieri

Minieri cashed for what he would consider to be a meagre €8,300, but just glancing at the list of players who also took that amount - Johnny Lodden, Juha Helppi, Petter Petterson, Alessio Isaia, Roberto Romanello, as well as Minieri - indicates the strength of this field.

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Sebastian Ruthenberg

Tomorrow is day three, and the television table has now been assembled to follow all the day's best play. You can watch all that on EPT Live, where you might also see the likes of Sebastian Ruthenberg (178,500), the EPT Barcelona champion who is still going strong in Prague, or the PokerStars qualifiers Joris Jaspers and Shander De Vries, both from Holland, or John Riley, from the United States. They all took the well-trodden path from online satellite success to bricks and mortar profit, and are still in the hunt for the major money.

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Joris Jaspers

Any of the links below can take you through today's play; the highs and lows, the bust outs and the double-ups.

Unleash day two
Lukas Schwartz: Down by the river
Boeken broken, but Jaspers up near the lead
Lodden shakes into action
The life of Riley
A round with Dario Minieri
Martin Jacobsen: Nice hand, good fold
Constandinos Alexiou and Raul Mestre: Table captains
Trouble for some
Johansson on the rail
Dario Minieri: When I grow up
No apologies: another post about Dario Minieri
Sebastian Ruthenberg: Shooting Star
Video blog: The EPT rap
The bubble bursts
Minieri busts
The Spanish charge
The end of Lodden's road
The final 40
Lacay takes the lead
Overtime in Prague
Scratch another Swede

And if you're a glutton for words that make no sense at all, then try reading the stories from EPT Prague in Swedish or Hungarian or Italian or German.

The video bloggers' finest work is available day and night in multiple languages - for FREE! - over at PokerStars.tv. All photography on PokerStars Blog comes from the camera and trigger finger of Neil Stoddart.

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Howard Swains
@howardswains in European Poker Tour