EPT8 San Remo: McClung keeps lead into last 24

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San Remo had an unfamiliar look to it this morning, the skies opening for a 12 hour downpour that started before dawn and soaked the streets of this little town; its skies grey, not blue, it's palm trees battered by the wind rather than idly swaying in the sunshine.

Little did we understand at the time but it set the scene for a turbulent day of poker in the European Poker Tour main event in San Remo, where 64 players returned to play down to just 24 on what we English know as St Crispin's Day, where stoicism and stiff-upper lips are the order of the day, as decreed by Shakespeare's Henry V.

The four English players arriving this afternoon could take this to heart; after all "The fewer men, the greater share of honour." But it's not the English leading the charge in San Remo tonight, but a Canadian, Christopher McClung.

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Christopher McClung

McClung arrived as the chip leader and will depart as chip leader, boosting his initial stack of 1,202,000 to 3,148,000, largely part to a hand against Joseph Cheong (see below). It's a target it will be hard to keep pace with. But true to previous San Remo form there is still plenty of scope for drama.

While it rained outside, the perfect storm was brewing inside; a combination of Team Pros, local heroes, foreign raiders and the odd EPT veteran to mix up the action. What we have at the end of the day is the potential for one of the most talent-filled and exciting final tables in recent years.

Beyond McClung attention turns towards two former winners, Kevin MacPhee (1,441,000) and Mike McDonald (292,000). Both used EPT wins as springboards to stardom and are now poised to make a run on that most elusive of honours - the first double EPT winner.

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Kevin MacPhee (left) and Mike McDonald

The liveried Team Pros Johnny Lodden (1,227,000) and Lex Veldhuis (877,000) will also return, having avoided trouble while sharing a table together. Each is proving their worth with impeccable performances that could result in final table appearances.

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Lex Veldhuis

Barny Boatman finished with the type of flourish that made him a household name back when Late Night Poker featured men in suits playing an obscure card game on a dark TV set somewhere in the UK. A veteran of the game and of the EPT he may well be, but Boatman continues to prove that success is not dependent on youth alone. A Shakespeare character waiting to be written, Boatman returns for Day 5 with 1,257,000.

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Johnny Lodden (left) with Barny Boatman

"Well, I've pretty much locked up the min-cash triple crown," wrote Boatman on Twitter, citing his EPT London, WSOPE and San Remo cash finishes. "The only way I can mess it up now is if I accidentally make the final."

Boatman's countryman Jon Spinks will join him, closing on 788,000, but perhaps it's a player that shared their table for most of the day who deserves a final word: Elio Fox.
The new World Series of Poker Europe main event champion has had his Michelin Guide sightseeing tour of the Riviera ruined by some textbook poker, first in Cannes and now in San Remo. Tonight he bags up 377,000, two days away from what could be an historic two weeks for the young American.

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Elio Fox

But as promised San Remo can always be counted on for drama, and Fox was at the heart of a hand against Etienne Archambeaud and Richard Loth, that resulted in play stopping for more than half-an-hour as tournament officials reviewed video footage and delicate rules were unearthed to deal with an unprecedented scenario.

Fox, down to 248,000 at the time, pushed all-in, watching as Archambeaud and Loth moved in behind him. While Fox went on to win the hand (detailed at 7pm in the Level 22 link below), the issue of how many chips Loth and Archambeaud should have had sent players and officials into deep discussion with the suggestion that Archambeaud, who had been left with 40,000 chips when the dust settled, should have been out and his chips given to Loth. After much back and forth and a review of the tapes the Status Quo was declared correct.

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Confusion reigns

We played on until Denys Drobyna departed in 25th place. He was the final elimination of the day receded by a talented list of cash finishers including Team PokerStars Pros Vanessa Selbst and John Duthie, as well as Tyler Bonkowski and Cheong.

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John Duthie

Cheong's exit had been particularly gruesome, and resulted in McClung's massive lead.
McClung had three-bet to 104,000 behind Mustapha Kanit's raise to 41,000. Watching from the cut-off Cheong four-bet to 220,000. Kanit ducked out but McClung shoved. Cheong snap-called showing pocket kings against McClung's queen-seven of hearts. The board made McClung a flush on the turn, which gave Cheong a set that failed to fill up on the river.

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Joseph Cheong

He was among 40 departures today, many of whom would have graced the penultimate day. A full list of prize winners, and their payouts, can be found on the prize winners page. Official Chip Counts are here and for a recap of an eventful day in San Remo, click through the links below.

Level 19 (cont.) to 21 updates
Level 22 to 23 updates

Our thanks to our foreign cousins, blogging in German, French and Italian. Thanks also to photographer Neil Stoddart whose cast iron copyright once resulted Nixon being kicked out of office.

Tomorrow 24 players will play down to a final eight. Find out which of this few, this happy few, will be on their way to the final, when live coverage continues tomorrow at 2pm. That he which hath no stomach to this fight, let him depart. In the meantime, dinner.

Goodnight from San Remo.

Stephen Bartley
@StephenBartley in European Poker Tour