Brandon Cantu leads charge at EPT Vilamoura to make fortune like bloggers

ept-thumb-promo.jpgToday started like any other: members of Team PokerStars Blog woke up a little bleary-eyed after a tasty late-night curry and a few light refreshments. Little did we know that as the day wore on we would become millionaires many times over. By incredible good fortune not one but two ladies in Africa emailed in to blog@pokerstars.eu to ask us for assistance in releasing the millions of dollars stashed away by their late fathers.

Both gentlemen, it transpired, had died in separate tragic accidents and now their daughters, despite being wracked by grief, had bravely recovered enough composure to enlist our help in releasing the loot. Quite a coincidence that we should be chosen twice at random for this task, but we instantly fired back our bank account details as the ladies requested so we could take our cut of the family fortunes.

Minutes later, we were contacted via email by a nice man called James Mackay in China wanting us to partner him in his $44.5 million business investment. Quite how he knew we had just acquired a new fortune I'll never know, but it was another opportunity too good to miss. We've been excitedly planning our new lives all afternoon - cars, boats, houses, the lot.

While we realised straight away we may have got our hopes up a little hastily still wait patiently for the money to come flooding in, there are one or two people here in Portugal who have a much better chance of making their fortunes this week. The first prize on offer at EPT Vilamoura is a very real €467,835 - and while that's much less than we're going to make from our new friends Elizabeth Johnson in Senegal and Miss Finda Fallah in Nigeria, it's still not to be sniffed at. In fact, we may offer to let the poker winner here into our deal with Mr Mackay - he seems very keen for our help after all.

Top of the pile chasing the big prize is Brandon Cantu, who finished with 557,400 at play's end. He's no stranger to big cashes, having bagged $3.4million in tournament winnings already. Cantu, from the US, is followed by Team PokerStars Online's Andre Coimbra (476,400), Johan Berg (384,000), Sam Trickett (351,900), Grzegorz Cichocki (339,500), and Team PokerStars Pro JP Kelly (314,800).

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Brandon Cantu

Some 224 players started today's Day 2, the first combined day from the Day 1A and 1B survivors, and the rate of exits in the early going was as high as the number of rich African gentlemen seemingly dying in accidents and leaving their fortunes dotted around the world. By the end of the first level we'd lost around 50 players, and to be frank that carnage never let up until play's end when around 70 remained.

Among those paying a euro for a towel to take to the beach were Team PokerStars Pros Sebastian Ruthenberg, Pieter de Korver, Richard Toth, Alex Kravchenko, David Williams, Vicky Coren, reigning Vilamoura champ Antonio Matias, John Duthie, Dario Minieri, Lex Veldhuis, Henrique Pinho plus Team PokerStars SportStar Fatima Moreira de Melo.

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Fatima Moreira de Melo

But while they will be pink and stinging tomorrow, plenty of big names will return pasty-faced to Vilamoura Casino for Day 3 and the run for the money that kicks in at 56th place. Among them - and why should anyone be surprised about this? - will be Team PokerStars Pro Luca Pagano (105,100), homing in on his record 16th EPT cash. Coming back, too, will be Friend of PokerStars Teddy Sheringham (207,500), the former England and Manchester United soccer star who is shooting for his third EPT cash, Marcin Horecki (280,500), and local Team Pro Nuno Coelho (73,100).

Also returning are three former EPT winners desperately trying to shake off the monkey from their backs that has thus far ensured nobody has won two EPTs. Max Lykov (109,100), Rob Hollink (88,900) and Team PokerStars Pro Arnaud Mattern (59,900) have the chimp-slaying responsibilities tomorrow.

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Charlie Chaplin Arnaud Mattern

They've got a tough job trying to catch Cantu, who started the day with 122,400 and then built momentum to such an extent that he was seemingly raising every hand for the last level to run over his table.

So that's it for another day of poker. We're off to tell our loved ones about our new fortunes. They'll be delighted. Despite our luck, we've still been working very hard today, and you can catch up on all our coverage by clicking on any or preferably all of these links:

Levels 13 & 14
Levels 11 & 12
Levels 9 & 10

And if expansion of your linguistic skills is your thing, then you could do a lot worse than to follow it all as provided by our foreign cousins on our Ferrari-driving Italian blog, Mercedes-driving German blog, DAF lorry-driving Dutch blog, and inflatable banana boat-riding Portuguese blog.

Full chip counts are on the, you guessed it, chip count page, and you can review lots of moving pictures created by people with big cameras on pokerstars.tv, while all still pictures are provided by the smaller cameras of Neil Stoddart.

Until tomorrow, it's goodnight, and may your good fortune be as brilliant as your gullible PokerStars bloggers.

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The new PokerStars Blog car

All pictures (except for the car) are (c) Neil Stoddart

Simon Young
@MrSimonYoung in European Poker Tour