EPT San Remo: Carlsson plays the lead on day of high drama
It doesn't take much of a stretch these days to present poker as the new theatre, and on the Italian Riviera today, tournament organisers went the whole hog and deposited the last three tables of EPT San Remo on a stage.
As we culled 24 runners to a final eight, players, supporters, media and staff trod the boards in an eerie silence and an atmosphere of absurdity worthy of Beckett. Sixteen were certain to perish and all we needed to know was their identities. Born astride of a grave, their last yelp echoed with a chill around an empty auditorium.
But enough of the dramatics. What about the game? OK, OK, here's how the day ended and the names of our final eight:
Jakob Carlsson, Sweden, 13,525,000
Toni Pettersson, Finland, 5,035,000
Michael Piper, UK, 4,600,000
Claudio Piceci, Italy, 4,460,000
Liv Boeree, UK, 3,440,000
Atanas Georgiev, Bulgaria, 2,520,000
Alexey Rybin, Russia, 1,890,000
Giuseppe Diep, Italy, 1,830,000
That list is most notable firstly for the name at its summit, secondly for one about half way down and lastly for one who is missing. Jakob Carlsson (formerly known as "Karlsson") was the chip leader at the end of day three but has endured more highs and lows since then than even the most tortured tragic hero.
He was all in during the first level and survived, then he built his stack back up to monstrous proportions. Then he had queens cracked by Alexey Rybin's 3♥4♥ when a flush rivered and was back among the pack once more.
Carlsson hung in there and continued the fight until he entered another massive pot against Rybin with pocket queens. This time he had flopped a set, but Rybin had flopped a straight with J♣9♣. But the last laugh went to Carlsson as he rivered a full house and became the first player into eight figures. He leads the way with 13,525,000 tomorrow.
In the chasing pack is Liv Boeree. In Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, a character named Olivia begins in mourning for her brother, rebuffs the advances of a duke, falls in love with a woman dressed as a man and then accidentally marries "his" brother, ending happily ever after.
For her namesake, better known by the diminutive "Liv", it was a little more straightforward, but no less of a thrill ride. Ms Boeree, from the United Kingdom, fell particularly in love with two kings and got most of her sizeable stack in the middle behind them, slaying the young knave Per Linde from Sweden and his pocket jacks.
That was the biggest pot Boeree played today, although she hardly retired to the footlights. She remained active throughout and has already turned in the most profitable performance of her fledgling career. She is now well set to make a charge at the citadel occupied only by the Team PokerStars Pro duo of Vicky Coren and Sandra Naujoks. Women champions on the EPT are few, but they are good company.
To continue a Shakespearean theme: at the beginning of the day, the centre of attention was a young fellow from Copenhagen. In Austria a fortnight ago, Allan Baekke had become the crown prince of the EPT with a win at the inaugural Snowfest. Coming into the penultimate day of this tournament, Baekke was again atop a golden throne. He led day four and was in search of an elusive double. No one has ever won two EPT main events before, let alone consecutive tournaments, yet here was the man with the perfect name for the Baekke-to-Baekke accomplishment sitting in pole position.
As it happened, he perished like that other young prince from Copenhagen. Betrayed not by a fatal flaw nor by a jealous family, he instead was abandoned by the deck. Baekke was characteristically forthright in his game, typically impeccable in his manners. But card dead is card dead and Baekke went out in 12th. Alas, we knew him well.
Baekke finds his name on the list of prizewinners so far, alongside, incidentally, all other players who started today in the top six, and eight of the overnight top ten. They all missed out on the final.
See how they perished, hack-by-hack, stab-by-stab, with our level-by-level (almost) hand-by-hand coverage at the following links:
Tomorrow, we will have a cast featuring a handful of good Shakespearean names (a Claudio, a Toni and a Guiseppe), an Olde English moustache (on the face of Michael Piper) and an Atanas (difficult to work with). Join us to see what dreadful analogy we can spin out of that lot.
All photographs are ©Neil Stoddart.
Exeunt, pursued by a bear.