EPT Deauville: Teodor Caraba leads final eight
Regular readers of the PokerStars Blog EPT coverage will be familiar with a relentless obsession with finding a first double winner of an EPT. To those inside the game and particularly those whose lives are spent following this bandwagon across Europe, it's the new frontier, like a Mars colony or wireless electricity. EPT Deauville could still be the place where that record breaks, but the story today was hijacked by a young man from Romania, Teodor Caraba, who leads heading into the final tomorrow.
With just nine players remaining two former champions sat poised to reach tomorrow's final. Both Mike McDonald, an EPT Dortmund winner, and Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier, who won the PCA in 2008, remained on course to add a second title to their already glittering Palmares.
But Caraba struck in what would be the last hand of the day. Grospellier shoved his last million in with ace-queen, running into Caraba's pocket aces. Grospellier's dream was done and hopes for a new page in poker's history books were cut in half.
Crashing out in ninth: Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier
But so strong is the line up for tomorrow's final that it can just about withstand the absence of icon, ElkY. In addition to McDonald, the former World Champion Peter Eastgate, himself runner-up from EPT London this season, stands to add tour silverware to his World Series gold.
History man: Mike McDonald
It took seven hours to eliminate 16 players, stark contrast to yesterday's seven level last hand epic, and we'd be remiss not to mention the four other players returning tomorrow intent on stopping all this talk of records. There's no place for sentimentality when a first prize of €847,000 is at stake.
Here's how they'll line up:
Seat 1 - Claudiu Secara, Romania, 795,000
Seat 2 - Jake Cody, UK, 4,650,000
Seat 3 - Michael Fratty, France, 1,595,000
Seat 4 - Teodor Caraba, Romania, 6,915,000
Seat 5 - Peter Eastgate, Denmark, Team PokerStars Pro, 695,000
Seat 6 - Craig Bergeron, USA, 3,135,000
Seat 7 - Stephane Albertini, France, 3,555,000
Seat 8 - Mike McDonald, Candada, 1,815,000
There are never any easy rides to an EPT final, and earlier fallers could be forgiven for not getting past this lot.
Craig Bergeron won a side event at EPT Dortmund last year and came third in a similar event in Barcelona last September. Jake Cody, from the internet, is the last remaining British player having assembled a fighting stack. He'll be recording his biggest win tomorrow whatever happens.
While Claudiu Secara and Michael Fratty have never before pinged the EPT radar their performances this week turned a few heads. The same goes for Stephane Albertini, one of three Frenchmen hoping to snatch victory from the jaws of poker history in front of a home crowd.
With notable players everywhere today we inevitably had to lose some of the top names, including Bruno Fitoussi, Freddy Deeb and the crowd favourite Alexia Portal who were each eliminated within sight of the final.
Out: Freddy Deeb
Out: Alexia Portal
That's all from a shorter but sweeter day four in Deauville. How sweet will depend on how much crème brulee we can now fill our boots with between now and closing time. The final table begins tomorrow at noon but until then there are always the links, gold mines of information that recap hand for hand the events of the day. Look through them at your leisure. Or now. Yes, do it now.
By now you'll know the drill. All this is available in hoopla-wooo French and stoic German and all photos were provided by photographic and martial artist Neil Stoddart. Right-click-save-image at your peril. You can also find all the moving images of the day over at PokerStars.tv where you can right click all you want.
That's that. Caraba led into today and he'll lead into tomorrow. Join us for what promises to be a gripping final. Until then... to the brulee.