EPT Madrid High Roller: Final table, Level 19-23 updates (15,000-30,000)
5.45pm: ElkY wins the EPT Madrid High Roller and €525,000
The two players had been battling back and forth with chips passing from one player to the other and it eventually took a bit of a cooler of a hand to place the trophy in the Team PokerStars Pro's hand.
The pot was limped preflop heading to a 2♣9♣4♦ flop. ElkY was in the big blind and led for 33,000 only to face a raise up to 90,000 from Benny Spindler. ElkY wasn't finished and three-bet to 223,000. Call.
The turn came J♣ and ElkY led for 277,000. Spindler took little time in calling to see the 9♠ river where he faced a quick all-in bet from the Frenchman. Spinlder counted his stack and had about 480,000 back. He thought for another minute and announced the call.
ElkY tabled 9♥4♥ for a full house, beating Spindler's trip nines with K♣9♦. The rail gave ElkY a big round of applause as he was handed yet another High Roller trophy to add to the one he won at the PCA in 2009. Spindler himself came 3rd in the main event at the same PCA and he'll have to settle for second place here but his loss is softened with a cheque for €316,000.
5.30pm: One for Spindler
Benny Spindler won a nice pot but he's still lagging 2-1 in chips to ElkY raised to 60,000 pre-flop and got a call from ElkY to see a 9♦6♦3♣ flop. Both checked that but on the 5♣ turn ElkY check-called Spindler's 70,000 bet. On the A♣ river, bringing all manner of possible winning hands, ElkY checked and Spindler bet out 180,000. ElkY thought for a while, but elected to fold.
5.20pm: ElkY gets caught bluffing before he moves all-in
A few hands of little action took place before two hands in-a-row of great action.
Firstly a hand that started slowly and quickly built into something bigger. The pot was limped preflop and checked through on the flop. At the turn the board read J♦7♠J♥A♦ and Benny Spindler led for 45,000. ElkY called to see the A♥ river where he faced a 125,000 bet. He took his time and check-raised to 390,000 but quickly mucked when Spindler called.
The very next hand ElkY raised to 60,000 and Spindler called to see the 3♠6♠4♣ flop where he led for 55,000. ElkY was having none of that and raised to 133,000 but soon faced a three-bet to 270,000 from his German foe. ElkY had the last word though and took the pot down after he moved all-in.
That pot re-established his two-to-one chip advantage.
5.05pm: The rail
We have quite a crowd watching this heads-up battle. ElkY's girlfriend, Cathy Hong, is one of many pressed up against the ropes around the table, which is right in the far corner of the main tournament room.
5pm: ElkY extends lead once more
A passage of play saw ElkY's naked aggression taking a succession of small pots off Spindler, on several occasions getting action on the flop and turn before forcing a fold on the river. ElkY is on around 1.9million to Spindler's 1.1million.
4.45pm: Spindler claws some back
After a few hands that saw chips move from one player to the other, Benny Spindler backed into a hand and managed to get ElkY to pay him off.
ElkY min-raised to 40,000 from the button and Spindler peeled to see a T♥5♣Q♣ flop. Both players checked before Spindler led for 55,000 on the K♥ turn. Call. The river came K♣ and the German led out again, for 125,000. ElkY looked at the board, looked at his opponent and back to the board again before making the call.
Spindler tabled K♠J♥ for trips and took the pot as ElkY mucked. Spindler is up to around 1.4 million now, less than 200,000 behind the French pro.
4.25pm: ElkY takes over lead
The Team PokerStars Pro has now opened up a lead over Benny Spindler, playing around 1.9million to 1.1million.
Heads-up play has been fairly cagey since ElkY doubled up, although he is applying pressure. On this hand he made it 40,000 and Spindler called. Both then checked the Q♥A♥Q♠ flop, and on the 8♥ turn ElkY called Spindler's 50,000. Spindler then bet 40,000 at the K♣ river, only to fold when ElkY re-popped it to 318,000.
With two players who are inherently aggressive, this heads-up may not last too long.
4.10pm: Game on! ElkY doubles
Now we have a heads-up match, with ElkY doubling up to be withing striking distance of Benny Spindler. The young German raised to 40,000 from the button. ElkY re-raised to 117,000 and Spindler called.
The flop was [10h]3♦7♥ and ElkY bet 133,000. Call. ElkY then check-called Spindler's 85,000 on the 9♣ turn. The river was a blank but ElkY announced all-in for his last 533,000 - call. Spindler showed K-10 for top pair, but ElkY was sitting with pocket jacks for the over pair.
He now has around 1.4 million to Spindler's 1.5million.
4.02pm: Heads up
And with that, we're heads-up for the EPT Madrid High Roller title. Benny Spindler is huge chip leader, with around two million to ElkY's 700,000.
4pm: Juha Helppi is eliminated in third place for €185,000
Wow, no sooner had David Sands reached the payout desk that Juha Helppi joined him. He got all-in against ElkY, but his J-10 was in horrible shape against the Frenchman's pocket queens.
The board ran 2♦K♦6♠A♠8♣ and Helppi departed disappointed, but €185,000 better off.
3.50pm: David Sands eliminated in 4th place for €135,000
His double up below was for nothing: David Sands is now out. He got all-in against that man Benny Spindler with A-Q but was dominated by A-K. Nothing helped and we're down to three-handed!
3.40pm: Sands at the double
David Sands had shoved twice in previous hands and got no callers. This time, Benny Spindler made it 40,000 and then called when Sands moved all-in for 330,000. It was a decisive moment - win and Spindler would be almost invincible three-handed, lose and, well, Spindler would be just a little less invincible.
It was a race for Sands' tournament life, one that he won when the board ran a dry 5♣J♣9♥5♦7♣.
Sands is up to 650,000, Spindler takes a small step back to 1.45 million.
Here's a reminder of what they're playing for:
As players return from the break, here are the chips. I wonder who is in the lead?
Benny Spindler 1.7 million
Juha Helppi 420,000
David Sands 280,000
Players are on a 15-minute break.
3.12pm: Level up
We've moved into level 21, with blinds now up to 10,000-20,000 with a 2,000 ante. The question is, just how long will it take for Benny Spindler to finish this one off?
3.10pm: Vanessa Rousso eliminated in 5th place for €100,000
She won the EPT Grand Final high roller event in Monte Carlo a couple of years ago, and would come oh-so-close to repeating it here. But Rousso is out to Benny Spindler.
He had open-raised to 32,000 - something he does on just about every hand - and Rousso pushed all in.
"188,000," she said, as she pushed the chips over the line.
Spindler made the instant call with 8♦8♥ and was in good shape against Rousso's A♠6♦. The board ran Q♦[10d]9♦8♠[10h], and that was the end of the line for the Team PokerStars Pro.
We're now four-handed. Here are rough chips right now:
Benny Spindler 1,700,000
Juha Helppi 420,000
David Sands 250,000
3.05pm: ElkY up
No details on this one, except for the important information: ElkY has doubled through Juha Helppi and now sits with around 375,000.
3pm: Alex Repik eliminated in 6th place for €72,000
He had lost chips all day, and now Alex Repik from Russia is out. The businessman pushed with A-7 but walked headlong into the A-K of Juha Helppi. A king and a seven on the board ensured Helppi won and Repik was busted.
2.45pm: New tactic
One interesting dynamic: When it is folded to Benny Spindler on the button, he has started not to raise, but instead to flat call, as if to entice the big blind Alex Repik into playing flops he may get into trouble with.
Both times he has tried this, Repik has check-folded on the flop.
You feel something is going to give soon.
2.30pm: Flops dry up
We've reached an interesting phase in the tournament, with the relative chip stacks negating the need for anything as trivial as a flop, let alone a turn or a river.
Here's how it goes: Chip monster Benny Spindler is open-raising every hand to 32,000. Most get through with no resistance, although occasionally one of the shorter stacks will push, forcing a fold. Those shorties are ElkY, Vanessa Rousso and David Sands. Alex Repik is not pushing.
Sometimes these guys will open-shove, and so far Spindler has declined the option to call.
2.11pm: Level up
That's the end of the level. The players are taking a five-minute break.
2.10pm: Rousso no action
Vanessa Rousso open-pushed from the small blind for 131,000 but Alex Repik refused to comply from the big blind.
2.05pm: ElkY's triple push
ElkY shoves three hands in a row: from the small blind, button and the cut-off, but gets the push through each time.
2pm: Sands doubles up
It's all action. This time it's David Sands who has doubled up. He pushed for 144,000 with J♣J♥ and got called by the chip daddy Benny Spindler with A♣8♠. Sands faded the ace on the board and moves up to 290,000.
1.55pm: ElkY back in it
ElkY was dangerously low but managed to double through Vanessa Rousso. He found pockets kings at the perfect time and was never troubled by Rousso's A-5.
1.45pm: Rousso doubles
Team PokerStars Pro Vanessa Rousso was all-in with A-2 and got looked up by Juha Helppi with K-J. An ace on the river sealed the double-up for Rousso up to 240,000.
1.40pm: Galen Hall eliminated in 7th place for €57,500
Wow. I say again, wow. Overnight chip leader Galen Hall has clashed fatally with the other chip monster, Benny Spindler. Hall is out.
I'll have full details soon, but it seems Hall had pocket aces against Spindler's pocket queens, and the young German spiked a set on the flop. There was action on the turn but all the money went in on the river.
That's an amazing turn of events for overnight leader Hall, who leaves with €57,500. Spindler is now on more than 1.2 million chips and runaway leader.
1.35pm: Peter Jetten eliminated in 8th place for €45,000
A chap called Daniel left a comment on this post a little earlier saying he had money on Peter Jetten to come back from his short-stack and win this event. "He just needs some rungood," Daniel explained.
Whoops. Jetten is first out.
He open-pushed from the button for 60,000 with [10s]Q♦ but was called by Galen Hall in the big blind with A♠K♦. The board ran 4♥A♣J♠8♠A♥ and Jetten is out for €45,000.
Here's how the table looked when they began things a little earlier...
The beady-eyed among you will notice there are only seven players here. Alex Repik was not about at the time. He was probably ironing his shirt (see post below).
1.25pm: Repik off to a flyer
Alex Repik looks a different man today. It's the clothes. Yesterday he sported a scruffy red t-shirt, but today he has turned up in a white collared shirt, with creases so well pressed you would cut yourself if you so much as touched them.
The new look is working: he just doubled up through Galen Hall. All the money went in pre-flop with Repik's A♦Q♦ dominating Hall's A♥J♠. Repik, a wealthy businessman from Russia, avoided any nastiness on the board and shoots up to 280,000. Hall slips to 630,000.
1.20pm: And we're off
David Sands has arrived, as has the also-late Alex Repik. Play in the EPT Madrid high roller final table is under way.
1.05pm: Slight delay
We're having to wait a little because of the late arrival of David Sands. But don't be harsh on him: his bus was stuck in traffic caused by an accident on the motorway. My colleague Neil Stoddart is using the intervening minutes to take some pictures of the finalists who are here.
They're sitting around chatting happily to each other. You wouldn't have thought there was so much money on the line today.
12.45pm: Let's make some money
It must be nice to be turning up to work today knowing that you're going to earn at least €45,000. I know I do every day, but enough about my pay packet, which is entirely deserved. Instead, today will be a good one for eight poker players; each guaranteed that €45,000 pay day for just arriving at the final table of the EPT Madrid High Roller.
But, to be honest, they are a greedy bunch. While €45,000 would be a nice touch for most sane people, this lot have their eyes on €525,000. That's what first place pays here, and that is an awful lot of money to spend on sangria, even for me.
Who tops the odds to pocket the big one? Galen Hall, who won the PCA in January for $2.3 million, is looking to add a second major title just months later. You can read how he got to today's happy position in the wrap from last night (well, early this morning).
In the hunt are a bunch of top names, including Team PokerStars Pros ElkY and Vanessa Rousso. See how they stand here with blinds still at 6,000-12,000 with a 1,000 ante :
Vanessa Rousso, USA, Team PokerStars Pro, 146,000
Alex Repik, Russia, 141,000
Peter Jetten, Canada, 63,000
David Sands, USA, 207,000
Galen Hall, USA, 798,000
ElkY, France, Team PokerStars Pro 165,000
Juha Helppi, Finland, 707,000
Benny Spindler, Germany, 710,000
Play is due to begin at 1pm, give or take a few minutes. I'll be covering the final, and during the minutes that I'm at the table and not at my computer, you can catch up with the coverage of the EPT Madrid main event, which is supplied by colleagues Sgt Major Bartley and Corporals Dacey and Convey. They seem to have caught up with a little sleep since EPT San Remo finished only days ago, so should be on top form.
OK, then. Steel yourselves, this is going to be a good final table. Leave questions/comments/bribes/cake in the comment box at the end of the post. I'll read them all with