EPT Vilamoura: Lewis leads English trio into last eight
The English have long been familiar with the Algarve. Travelling here on low-cost budget flights, they ignore the rough landing for a taste of local culture, normally wrapped in a Union Jack, and made crisp by sunshine. A week later, pink on one side, they return to Blighty with nice memories, a bottle of discount Port and a sombrero. For some it's the perfect foreign trip.
Englishman Toby Lewis may not have the sombrero, or the sunburn for that matter, but he looks likely to be leaving Portugal with the happy memories. He leads the field into the final table tomorrow by just two antes, bagging up 3,322,000 this afternoon, the spoils of a whirlwind day that thinned the field from 24 to eight in a little less than five hours.
His wingman on that trip was another Englishman, Sam Trickett. Trickett, who battled for or held the lead for most of the day, amassed his own souvenirs, 3,318,000 of them, after a display which could be summed up using the same words to describe Lewis's performance - brutal, relentless and effective.
The setting was perfect for their photo finish. Surrounded by cautious short stacks the pair spent the afternoon fleecing and flourishing, pulling in chips from opponents ill-equipped to take them on when the cards wouldn't work in their favour.
But it was not all about youths tearing the place up like holiday teenagers unable to handle the sangria.
Teddy Sheringham may be better known for his exploits on the football field, the England caps, the Champions League goals and a career that sparkles with awards, but he may soon be adding to that success rate on the baize if today's performance is any measure.
Straight down the middle - Sheringham with Daniel Negreanu on the course this morning
At times lumbered with the short stack, Sheringham, who managed six holes at this morning's Fairways and Felts golf-and-poker contest, steered his way past fearsome opposition, taking chips from court jester Fabrizio Ascari in a highlight six-nine vs. ace-king hand (Sheringham made a ten-high straight), and then from European poker veteran Rob Hollink.
Hollink, who won the EPT Grand Final in season one (filmed in black and white), survived the day with 259,000, keeping alive the prospect of a first (dare we say it?) double EPT winner. But Ascari, who seemed to lose his smile today, was unable to take that final step.
The flamboyant Italian has been a highlight in Vilamoura. Often out of sight but never out of earshot, Ascari wanted to be friends with just about everyone. In a game played in isolation this irritated some, but it endeared him to others.
So what if he took his shirt off for the camera; practised his golf swing on the stage or smoked a cigarette every six hands? This heir apparent was out to enjoy himself from the moment he took his seat, intending to make a run on his luck for as long as he could. It took him into day four and, were it not for a trio of Englishmen, could have carried him further. It would be Sheringham to deliver the coup de grace. The king was dead in tenth place.
Most others had gone before him. Carolyn Gray was the first to depart, soon followed by the likes of Kevin O'Donnell, Grzegorz Cichoki and last lady standing Filipa Lemos. Tom Johansen would follow, as would Nicolo Calia and Guillermo Garcia - the full list being available on the prize winners page.
But it was Erik van den Berg who brought the day to a close, seen off by Lewis shortly after the last nine convened around a single table until just eight remained. Van Den Berg's queen-six was crushed by Lewis's king-seven, giving Lewis his narrow overnight lead.
Erik van den Berg
It makes for an early finish to day four ahead of tomorrow's final table, which will look exactly like this:
Seat 1. Teddy Sheringham - 1,783,000
Seat 2. Toby Lewis - 3,322,000
Seat 3. Martin Jacobson - 441,000
Seat 4. Jason Lee - 1,167,000
Seat 5. Sergio Coutinho - 872,000
Seat 6. Sam Trickett - 3,318,000
Seat 7. Rob Hollink - 259,000
Seat 8. Frederick Jensen - 375,000
In the meantime you can re-live all of the action from today at the following links:
Tomorrow we'll play down to a winner who'll walk away from here €467,835 richer and a head full of happy thoughts. Can the English one-two-three be defeated? Will we have our first double winner? Find out tomorrow when play resumes at noon.
From the English team our thanks to our foreign cousins here to cover their own, let's face it, slightly less successful players.
German blogger Robin has had nothing to do since Wolfgang Wurzer busted in 32nd place yesterday; Steve the Dutch blogger is pinning his hopes on a Dutch-Double; Our Portuguese colleague Sergio is counting on namesake Sergio Coutinho to bring home glory to these parts, while Matteo, our Italian blogger, is preparing to be buried alongside his new king, Fabrizio Ascari.
Our thanks to Neil Stoddart for the pictures. We Englishmen are off to enjoy that thing they call daylight to get some sunburn on our faces. It'll go nicely with the sunburn on our backs.