EPT Deauville: Teodor Caraba emerges late to head final 24
We all have our favourites -- be it sweets, sports teams or Blue Peter presenters -- but when pushed to name a preferred day at a European Poker Tour main event, it's difficult to look beyond day three.
There's no doubt that day one has its pristine charms, and we watch our champion crowned on final table day. But day three, a wacky race to 24 players, also sends us careering through the fragile membrane of the bubble as the tournament-defining stacks take shape.
We'll get to details of that bubble later, but the main data from this particular crazy ride is best illustrated on the chip count page where you can see the names of the hardiest souls still in with a chance at the €847,000 first prize.
Leading the pack is the Romanian PokerStars qualifier Teodor Caraba. He came from absolutely nowhere in the final level to snatch the chip lead of 3,220,000.
Caraba won a monstrous pot against Luke Marsh and Craig Bergeron in the last level, hitting a set of deuces and felting Marsh. The pot was worth more than three million, and could only really have happened on that table, which at one point had about 30 percent of the total chips in play.
The Hungarian Andras Nemeth had millions all day, but ended up with less than 700,000; Bergeron, known as "HU4ROLLZ" online, had also been crushing and cruising into seven figures early on. Caraba waited patiently for that massive coup and he's the one to catch at day's close.
The Frenchman Hugo Lemaire is breathing down his neck. Lemaire has 2,301,000. And also sniffing around the very top of the ladder is Mike "Timex" McDonald, who won the first million-chip pot of the tournament, and ended up with 1,895,000.
It's one of the enduring mysteries of the European Poker Tour that no player has ever won two main events. But "Timex" could - he's a champion from Dortmund in season four. The other man in with a shout is the all round tournament sensation Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier, from France, Team PokerStars Pro, and a whole different planet. (Or so it seems, such are his immeasurable gifts.)
Grospellier bagged up 1,220,000 and his Team Pro colleague Peter Eastgate is another million chip man. Eastgate cut his teeth at the WSOP (he won it; didn't you hear?) but is now loving the EPT too. Eastgate had 1,682,000 to count when time was called, some of which he got when he busted Daniel Millar on the bubble.
It was kind of cruel: Eastgate only had 4♥8♠ to knock out Millar without any money. But the rest of the 104 players at that stage breathed a sigh of relief and cruised on into the cash.
From then it was a familiar tale of bust outs. Yes, we lost Minieri. Always a shame. And two others at opposite ends of their Team PokerStars Pro careers also departed. Vadim Markushevski marked his debut in the familiar livery with a cash. Luca Pagano cashed yet again. That's his 14th time, but Markushevski is closing in(!)
The two overnight leaders, Ludovic Lacay and Nicolas Levi, departed today. But Peter Bosen and Freddy Deeb, two of the shortest stacks at the end of yesterday, will be back tomorrow. This is unpredictable stuff.
At least for everyone except Thomas Kremser, that is. The tournament director extraordinaire predicted at the start of the day today that we would probably need seven levels to get down to 24. On the very last hand of the seventh level, Stefan Fuchs busted in 25th place. "We couldn't have planned it any better," Kremser said - but the way that precise man operates, I wouldn't be surprised if he'd planned it all along.
So, we'll reconvene tomorrow to discover how many more records we can break; how many more spectacular pots we can witness, and to identify the eight who will go to Monday's final table.
All the following links have the action from today:
Photographs are © Neil Stoddart. And moving pictures are on PokerStars.tv.