The battle for Tallinn: Team PokerStars Pro Arnaud Mattern fronts final table charge
Estonia has a history of foreign powers taking a fierce interest in its country. Over the years it has been subjected to rule from the Danes, Russians, Germans and Swedes but since it regained its independence in 1991 it has enjoyed its spot as one of the fastest growing economies in the world. This EPT has been a microcosm of centuries of Estonian history with 420 players from across the continent and beyond fighting it out to become the inaugural EPT Tallinn champion. At of the end of Day 4 that charge is being led by France with Team PokerStars Pro Arnaud Mattern desperately reaching out (despite a broken leg) to grab the €400,000 first place prize backed by a heaving 3,720,000 chip stack.
Mattern started the day third in chips and finished two spots better than that having been chip leader on and off all day long (sharing it mostly with Konstantin Bilyauer) and goes into tomorrow's final table with an incredible opportunity of becoming the first player to win an EPT in the beautiful city of Tallinn. And if the French pro does manage to win tomorrow he also gets the bonus of killing a monkey. This is not an odd Estonian tradition for reigning warrior kings it is merely a reference to yesterday's end of day summary, i.e. he'll become the first player in EPT history to bag two titles. We caught up with him at the end of play to discuss his chances of achieving that historic event : "Winning the title would mean far more than the money," said Mattern. "The money is always nice, especially in a town with nice clubs and girls, but the title and the accomplishment are more meaningful. I'm playing more for titles than money and also to make ElkY mad! We have a bet on who can win their second EPT title first."
There are of course seven other players out to plant their flag first and best positioned to thwart Mattern's intentions are PokerStars qualifier Kevin Stani of Norway (2,586,000) and Konstanin Bilyauer of Russia (2,498,000).
Mattern didn't just wake up with his 3.72m stack he had to fight tooth and nail for it. The day started with 25 players all seating themselves in the knowledge that only eight would still be standing (or sitting to be more accurate) come the end of the day. As always it was hard to predict who would make it through but you felt Mattern was nailed on to make the final table. Not only did the Frenchman hold a top three chip stack (1,115,000) but he had successfully navigated this pressure cooker situation before when winning EPT Prague back in 2007. He was a player unlikely to make a regretful blow up. Steven van Zadelhoff has also had the air of a man that wouldn't accept anything less than making it to Day 5 and fought his through in fifth position with 805,000.
Our first player out was Vitalijs Zavorotnis who was knocked out barely minutes after sitting down after noon today when he ran his pocket jacks into the pocket rockets of Bassam Elnajjar. And the action didn't really slow down from thereon in as we lost six players in that first level, including Team PokerStars Pro Ivan Demidov. The Russian had started the day fifth in chips but couldn't get his hand to hold when it really counted.
In a fearless show of Russian aggression Demidov opened from the button to 35,000 and was three-bet by Bilyauer to 90,000 from the small blind. Demidov thought for a short while before making it 200,000 and Bilyauer moved all-in putting the Team PokerStars Pro at risk. Demidov all but shrugged as he called for his entire stack with a tiny little pocket pair. Bilyauer must have been thrilled when he saw his opponent table 5♥5♠ as his own holding, K♠Q♦, would be crushed by an ordinary player's five-bet shove calling range. But then again, Ivan Demidov is no ordinary player and there had been plenty of history between the two. The 4♣7♥8♠ flop put Demidov in a fine position to win the 1.4m pot but a queen on the turn shipped the pot to Bilyauer. Demidov walked to the rail in 22nd for €10,000.
The defining moment of the day however was the table redraw that took place when Italian Simone Falorni bust out in 17th for €10,000. As the dust settled for the seating of the final 16 it was obvious that it had created a two-tier tournament. One table drew the six largest stacks which set those players battling their big stacks for control of EPT Tallinn while the other table was left, well, simply battling to stay in EPT Tallinn.
The inevitable big stack bust up came when Perica Bukara shoved all-in on the turn of a 7♥T♥3♠7♣ board with a 9♠6♣ gutshot. His opponent, one Konstantin Bilyauer, made the call with 9♥7♦ for trips. It was a monster 3.2m pot that burst Bilyauer into the chip lead. Other big stacks fared a little better than Bukara, such as Jon Weekes, who successfully navigated his situation to the left of Mattern and Bilyauer. Weekes was careful in tangling with anyone that covered him and instead found himself regularly fighting with fellow Brit Javed Abrahams instead. Abrahams eventually fell after three-bet shoving on Weekes with T♣T♥ only to be caught short by Mattern's pocket kings.
These aforementioned players weren't the only ones to miss their chance to become the inaugural EPT Tallinn champion though and our final table bubble boy, Jon Weekes, will feel particularly disappointed. The young Brit had led the field at the end of Day 2 and had played a strong aggressive game these last few days finally busting with A♥8♦ to, who else, Mattern who held A♠Q♠. It's brutal to bubble a big final table but we're sure Weekes will be back. All of today's knockouts are listed below.
The glorious few
9. Jon Weekes, United Kingdom, PokerStars Qualifier, €25,000
10. Vallo Maidla, Estonia, €25,000
11. Igor Ivashkiv, Kazakhstan, PokerStars Qualifier, €18,000
12. Toni Ojala, Finland, €18,000
13. Oscar Teran, Venezuela, €14,000
14. Perica Bukara, Serbia, €14,000
15. Johan Storakers, Sweden, €12,000
16. Javed Abrahams, UK, €12,000
17. Simone Falorni, Italy, €10,000
18. Anatoli Jevtejev, Lithuania, €10,000
19. Carlo Bordogna, Italy, €10,000
20. Matvey Linov, Russia, PokerStars Player, €10,000
21. Antti Kärkkäinen, Finland, €10,000
22. Ivan Demidov, Russia, Team PokerStars Pro, €10,000
23. Attilio Donato, Italy, €10,000
24. Nathanael Filskov, Denmark, PokerStars Qualifier, €10,000
25. Vitalijs Zavorotnijs, Lithuania, €8,000
If you want to find out everyone that cashed in the tournament here in Tallinn - not just that those that were knocked out today - then you can click here for the payouts page.
Also, you can catch up with all of the day's action in detail by clicking on the links below:
Join us tomorrow from noon as the final eight don their war gear and fight it out to become the first Season 7 EPT champion.
All the bits in the blog that aren't words, i.e. the pictures, are copyright of Neil Stoddart and can only be used with his permission.