EPT8 San Remo: Nielson leads while MacPhee eyes second title

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The European Poker Tour main event in San Remo reaches its final day with just eight players from a field of 837 remaining, returning to the theatre of Casino San Remo tomorrow to play to a winner, who will walk away with a first prize worth €800,000.

After an often frenetic day of play, which reduced the final 24 to eight in a little more than four levels, we lost the bulk of the local Italians, two Team PokerStars Pros, while a former champion fell to the rail, another stands poised to pull of an historic double.

Kevin MacPhee will take a seat at the final table tomorrow, the short stack with 1,115,000 chips with which to mount a campaign to earn a place in poker history. So long has the title of "first double winner" been bandied about by the travelling bandwagon that accompanies the tour, that it's now like some old piece of furniture stored in the spare room, suitable only for propping up pianos or holding down loose papers. Tomorrow it will once more be dusted off, shined, and prepared for the possibility of proper home.

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Kevin MacPhee

MacPhee's task will be a tough one, not only for a big hand against Dimitar Danchev that reduced his stack by half (and will leave him on tilt for the rest of the night) but because of the quality of the final table field, represented by eight nationalities.

Joining MacPhee will be chip leader Daniel Nielson from Australia, who, saw off Johnny Lodden tonight to bring play to an end. "Good", "solid" and "aggressive" were words used to describe the EPT newcomer.

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Chip leader Daniel Nielson

Here's how they'll line up...

1. Andrey Pateychuk, Russia, 3,105,000
2. Kevin MacPhee, United States, 1,115,000
3. Barny Boatman, United Kingdom, 2,490,000
4. Daniel Nielson, Australia, 6,700,000
5. Rocco Palumbo, Italy, 1,160,000
6. Yorane Kerignard, France, 2,145,000
7. Dimitar Danchev, Bulgaria, 4,435,000
8. Jan Bendik, Slovakia, 3,980,000

It is perhaps not the line-up railbirds may have dreamed of as play started this afternoon, with an array of the game's brightest falling at the penultimate hurdle.

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The TV Table

Jon Spinks departed within minutes of the start, choosing to get his 700,000 chips into the middle in good health rather than wait, like others, for age to whither them. Spinks was followed by Elio Fox, the new World Series of Poker Europe champion who looked to be on his way to an unlikely double. While his day may have ended in 23rd place, it wasn't a bad trip all things considered.

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Elio Fox

When a single former champion reaches the final of an EPT the talk fo first double winners is turned up to unbearable levels. So when two of them looked all set for the last eight the rhetoric was bulky and alas, premature.

Mike McDonald, who already has three EPT final tables to his name, narrowly missed out on another, busting in 18th place and leaving it to Kevin MacPhee to progress, hotly pursued by a geek carrying that record book.

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Mike McDonald

Lex Veldhuis just missed out on his first EPT final table, busting in 15th (his best EPT yet) with the damage done by fellow Team PokerStars Pro Johnny Lodden. Following Veldhuis to the door was chip leader coming into the day Chris McClung, who endured a nightmare day in which the all-ins he called remained firm against his efforts to dominate.

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Lex Veldhuis

On a day in which it all kicked off in the Italian parliament, it was all calm among Italians in the main event, reduced from seven to one. Rocco Palumbo will represent the home nation tomorrow after the departure of Cristiano Guerra, Mustapha Kanit, Daniele Vesco, Gianluca Cedolia, Alessio Isaia and Angelo Tarallo.

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Rocco Palumbo

But it fell to the last remaining Team PokerStars Pro Johnny Lodden to bring the day to a close, falling in ninth place to miss what would have been his first ETP final table since Budapest in 2006. He shoved with ace-king only for Daniel Nielsen to find a pair of queens that dodged everything on the board.

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Johnny Lodden

In their place are the likes of Jan Bendik, from Spectacular Slovakia, reaching his second EPT final table after Prague in Season 7. He plays a stack of 3,980,000 tomorrow.

Andrey Pateychuk may have kept a low profile today but the Russian's pedigree speaks of success on major tournaments, as his 15th place singing in the World Series main event this year is testament to. He'll be back armed with 3,105,000. Yorane Kerignard, bagging up 2,145,000, does the same after a gritty performance that rewards him with his second EPT final table after EPT Copenhagen in Season 7.

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Yorane Kerignard

Last night Barny Boatman joked that he had now won the "min-cash Triple Crown" with cash finishes at EPT London, the WSOPE and now here, something he could only ruin by making the final table.

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Barny Boatman

That's just what he did today, using aggression early on to reinforce his stack while playing solidly throughout. He returns with 2,490,000. Dimitar Danchev completes the line-up, playing a stack of 4,435,000.

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Dimitar Danchev

To tally that up, that's one former winner, three former finalists, an Italian, a Mobster and at least one player set to record their best live tournament finish. Read all about them, and those who departed today, at the links below...

Level 23 (cont.)-25 updates
Level 26-27 updates

Our thanks to our colleagues blogging in German, French and Italian, and to our photographer Neil Stoddart, whose copyright enforcement team once provoked a fist fight in the Italian parliament.

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Casino San Remo

Tomorrow eight will become one as a new EPT San Remo champion, and perhaps even the first double winner, will lift the trophy and pocket a cheque for €800,000. Live coverage from the theatre in Casino San Remo, will resume at 2pm, with EPT Live coverage the action every step of the way. If your imagination needs moving pictures as well as words, that is.

Until then we're off for ice cream. Goodnight from San Remo.

Stephen Bartley
@StephenBartley in European Poker Tour