EPT Loutraki: Zimnan Ziyard zooms to final table lead
If day four at EPT Loutraki has taught us one thing, it is that there is still a lot of variance left in tournament poker. But the ability to manage it deftly is arguably the most important talent a player can possess--and keeping focused to make the right decisions can keep you on the right side of the Gods.
Our journey today from 38 players to a final table of eight took us through innumerable chip leaders, countless compelling pots and a customary flirtation with the possibility of a double champion (dashed). It ended with eight finalists of differing aptitude for the game's subtleties, but each of whom has employed maths, madness, guts and/or guile to push them into the final day.
The leader of those eight is the young British player Zimnan Ziyard, whose talents will certainly please the poker purists. He was schooled at the poker society of Imperial College (alongside Rupert Elder, among others) and then on the online tables of PokerStars.
He applied constant pressure with small raises pre-flop this afternoon, and then seized the opportunity to play a huge pot with his friend, table neighbour and countryman, Elder. When he sent the former EPT San Remo champion to the rail in 13th -- queens bettering king-jack -- he not only robbed us once again of our first potential double champion, but also put himself in the box seat to seize a winner's trophy of his own.
Ziyard is a fine player to lead the pack into our final day.
Here's how they will begin tomorrow:
Seat 1 - John Taramas, Greece, 1,755,000
Seat 2 - Charalampos Kapernopoulos, Greece, 749,000
Seat 3 - Pierre Mothes, Germany, 1,073,000
Seat 4 - Hauke Heseding, Germany, 1,660,000
Seat 5 - Florian Schleps, Austria, 850,000
Seat 6 - Mario Puccini, Germany, 1,077,000
Seat 7 - Andras Kovacs, Hungary, 210,000
Seat 8 - Zimnan Ziyard, UK, 2,771,000
Each of those players, of course, has his own story.
Kapernopoulos was our massive overnight chip leader, who, mid-way through today, suddenly discovered that it was possible not to hit every flop. At one point it looked as though he might allow his frustration to get the better of him and miss out on the final altogether, but he eventually ground his way through the last fallow levels and into tomorrow.
The local contingent also includes the man whose passport shows the name Ioannis Taramas, but who is known in casino circles as "John". He is also notorious there as the "15th best blackjack player of all time", at least according to John himself, who came back on day two having slept for only an hour after an all-night session.
The planets aligned perfectly for Taramas today as he not only started finding big hands, but usually found other players shoving their chips into them. Taramas was playing to the gallery as he soared close to two million chips.
As is seemingly mandatory at any major final table these days, there are plenty of Germans in with a title shout. Mario Puccini, who led at the end of day one, is still battling, and he deserves special praise for coming back from the brink after losing about 75% of his stack in a single pot against Taramas.
Hauke Heseding was forced to contend with the big stack of Kapernopoulos to his left for most of the day, but managed to get the chips swimming upstream and into his stack. Meanwhile Pierre Mothes was in close proximity to the Elder/Ziyard fireworks, but picked his spots skillfully to transform the duking Brits into a reliable source of revenue.
Everyone else who played some part in a dramatic day will find their name enshrined for eternity on the prizewinners page. The Team PokerStars Pro duo of Jude Ainsworth and Toni Judet leap out the proudest, but neither could jostle their way onto the final table.
Click on the links below to re-cap on how it all played out in Loutraki. Tomorrow we battle it out for for the big bucks.