EPT San Remo: Baekke brings back Snowfest memories to lead last 24
Day four in San Remo took a little longer than we'd expected. But after a few days of what can only be described as heroic poker - all-ins, double ups and gut-wrenching passion in all its forms - you could be forgiven for expecting this day, the one to reduce 66 players to 24, would pass by quickly.
And you'd be right.
If you spent two minutes out on the tournament floor you knew you would see something, and that something was normally elimination - the day was done in less than four levels. But it was perhaps the last two minutes that were the most telling.
With just 25 players remaining Allan Baekke called the all-in of Gijs Verheijen who showed ace-jack. Baekke showed pocket kings which avoided any obstacles the board might have brought to bust Verheijen.
For Baekke it meant 3,483,000 in chips and a count extending almost 900,000 beyond the next. His lead serves as warning enough but players should take note of something else.
Baekke also eliminated the 25th placed player at Snowfest, another Dutchman, a hand that extended his chip lead from which he never looked back. Baekke, a natural front-runner, now has the momentum and a place in EPT history waiting for him on Wednesday.
But if Baekke is to make it two in a row he'll have sturdy opposition to steer past tomorrow. Dermot Blain, who last year won the APPT in Macau, is in second place with 2,568,000 chips, ahead of Dmitry Stelmak on 2,284,000.
Ramon Cserei, Ronnie Kaiser and Paul Berende were behind them with late surges. They bagged up 2,141,000, 2,032,000 and 2,002,000 respectively.
Along the way there were the inevitable casualties. Team PokerStars Pro lost Pierpaolo Fabretti in 50th place and Matthias De Meulder in 40th, while their online equivalent Alfio Battisti was also sent to the rail in 52nd place.
Matthias de Meulder
But before we catch the last dregs of Riviera daylight a word on Thang Duc Nguyen. The German last made the business end of an EPT in Baden in season three.
Thang Duc Nguyen
It was there that Nguyen took the title and a winner's cheque for €487,397. Well tonight he closed with 1,604,000 chips, more than enough to force his way to a second EPT final. Then who knows.
That's all ahead of us but day four needn't be over for you. You can find all of the action from today, in easy to click links, below. Re-live the day at your leisure with the chip counts and have a run through theprize winners while your there. When you're done you'll find the day five table draw right here.
Our thanks to Neil Stoddart for today's photos, all copyrighted to within an inch of his life. Also to our foreign bloggers who babble away happily all day despite our protests. You can find the results of their day on the German, Dutch, Swedish and Italian blogs.
Join us tomorrow to see who survives and who falls. We need just eight of the last 24 for Wednesday's final and you can watch who leaves and who stays on EPTLive from tomorrow. Check out the coverage on PokerStars.tv.
It's a 2pm start tomorrow afternoon, slightly later than published. For now we're off to expense one of these and run along the beach in the volcanic ash...
Until tomorrow then.