EPT London: And then there were eight

Before plan started today we suggested it might be a good idea to clear the decks, cancel all appointments and do everything you could to ensure nothing took your focus away from this pivotal day in the EPT London. If you were able to do that then well done - consider making it up to loved ones next weekend. If not, you missed a great day of poker. Allow us to fill you in.

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As play began, there were four tables tucked into the remaining tournament area of the Victoria Casino surrounded by players and spectators shaking off the effects of an early finish and late bar last night. Divided equally across them were some poker kings, well equipped to give hardened poker hacks something to talk about, even those who claim to have seen it all before.

For starters there was the sole surviving Team PokerStars Pro Marcin Horecki, Michael Martin of EPT grand final fame, Max Pescatori and Sorel Mizzi, and the last remaining Englishman Ian Frazer. The PokerStars colours were not confined to Horecki’s sleeve. The Shooting Star Johannes Strassmann finessed his way through the day, as did the Million Dollar Man Peter Eastgate. The list of players with a proven track record seemed endless. Scotty Nguyen was still here, Antony Lellouche as well, not to mention the overnight chip leader Philippe D’Auteuil.

So it was hardly surprising that bundling such a premier bunch of players together, locking them in a room, dealing them cards for 11 hours and upping the blinds every level would create some fireworks - explosions that would either send a player to the rail, as happened to Nguyen (32nd), Mizzi (27th), Frazer (25th) and Molander (21st), Eastgate and Pescatori; or the positive kind, ones that would act like a supercharger, injecting enough sparkle to make these guys rocket men, seen from any high place in town.

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Scotty Nguyen

Eight players, perhaps in a rare whimsical moment, could claim something along those lines.

Michael Tureniec, Sweden, PokerStars qualifier - 1,331,000
Eric Liu, USA - 1,308,000
Antony Lellouche, France - 1,022,000
Michael Martin, USA - 718,000
Philippe Dauteuil, Canada - 476,000
Johannes Strassmann, Germany, PokerStars shooting Star - 434,000
Alan Smurfit, Ireland - 396,000
Marcin Horecki, Poland, Team PokerStars Pro - 309,000

Winding up in this spot did not come easily. The pace was relentless, right from the moment Nguyen busted through to Erik Sjodin’s exit in ninth, which brought play to a close.

Michael Martin was the early high flyer, quickly establishing an enormous lead as the first player to construct a seven figure stack roughly the size of a hat box. He went on to use it without prejudice. Antony Lellouche did the same. The Frenchman steered a course to his third EPT final, the first of which came on this very table 12 months ago. Not to be outdone, the PokerStars qualifier Michael Tureniec saw to it that he would do the same, winding up the day with the chip lead, the closest player to the first prize of £1 million.

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Michael Martin

Johannes Strassmann will make his third EPT final table appearance tomorrow, no doubt hoping to put behind him the near misses in Prague and San Remo last year (ninth both times) and avenge that fateful day in Dortmund in season three where the lead and momentum was snatched away from him, and was never seen again.

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Johannes Strassmann

As levels passed by the bright lights began to fade. Jonas Molander fell away, into the arms of his fifth EPT cash, so too the Italian Max Pescatori, the scourge of many a busted player this week, who finished in 15th place to break his EPT duck. The former Indy car driver and PokerStars player Gualter Salles, who only began playing a little more than two years ago in between running an racing team, saw his high speed adventure crash out in 14th place.

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Gualter Salles

The Million Dollar Man Peter Eastgate tried to pull off his first EPT final table ahead of his date in the Las Vegas desert next month. It was not to be for the Dane who suffered from an unexpected run of bad hands before he finally succumbed to chronic chip shortage.

The final word should be saved for Team PokerStars Pro Marcin Horecki (pronounced goret-ski if you were wondering). Horecki turned a few heads this week with some solid play, winning a vital pot on day two that sent a couple of players to the rail and turned his own fortunes around.

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Team PokerStars Pro Marcin Horecki

Horecki won another vital pot that served the same purpose today. All-in with Q-9, Strassmann called with what looked like a day-ending pair of aces. All clear on the flop but then came the miracle running nines. He already has an EPT cash to his name from Copenhagen in 2007. That payout has been topped easily this week. We’ll wait to see by how much.

And it's worth bearing the following two points in mind ahead of the final. The chip leader Tureniec is a PokerStars qualifier, another example of how a satellite win on PokerStars can be profitable way to make your EPT mark. And that should Strassmann turn things around and win an EPT title at the third attempt it was make two titles in a row for the band of PokerStars players from Germany and Austria known as the Shooting Stars.

All that is to come, with full coverage of the final table on both the PokerStars blog and on EPT Live, you can watch every hand start to finish from the comfort of your own home. Come to think of it, you’ll need to cancel any plans for you had for tomorrow as well.

Click on the links below for the details of how day three unfolded.

Dawn breaks on day three
Day three begins
No surprises
Empty seats
Day three bullet-point bulletin No 1
Through a lens
Getting the chips in
Day three bullet-point bulletin No 2
Day three bullet-point bulletin No 3
Salles drives on with the help of Firestone
Video dump
Level 21 updates
Level 22 updates

And read all about it in numerous exotic tongues. There's German, Italian, Dutch and even Swedish!

There's always PokerStars.tv to keep you up through the night, where the likes of Joe Elpayaa can give you an insight into what it's like to prosper on the EPT. Here he is. Goodnight.

Watch EPT London 08 Day 3: Joe Elpayaa on PokerStars.tv