Ole-Kristian Nergard leads for second day as Grand Final bubble bursts
At this stage of the day we're normally touting the rise of one or two players, chipped to the nipples with a seven figure total, clear leaders and setting a pace into the money of the most prestigious event in European poker. In fact, we also thought that by the close of Day 2 we would have broken well through the 104 barrier, representing the money bubble in the main event.
But things ran slightly different today. There was still the vast shedding of player numbers, 299 reduced a barely breached bubble. But with a share of €6,860,000 up for grabs who can blame a player taking things a little more carefully than the average €300 turbo.
The feature table
But while there may not be the gargantuan favourite, there are inevitably still leaders and it is they who will draw the attention when play restarts on Tuesday afternoon. Most notably Ole-Kristian Nergard who leads tonight, as the bubble bursts, ending the day.
Nergard is proving something of a curiosity in Madrid. Baby-faced and bony, when the Norwegian led yesterday we wrote of how he missed the main event last year by a matter of hours, not turning 18 until after the main event had begun. That year he jumped headfirst straight into the High Roller deep end. He came out soaked but not afraid of the water. He's making the main event 12 months later his own, bagging up 726,000 tonight, although he'll still get asked for ID when he orders a nightcap.
Behind him is another formidable young player, Kristoffer Thorsson, one of numerous players still in contention, each with proven resumes at this most competitive level.
If experience is a prerequisite entering the money of the Grand Final, then Thorsson's title of Master Classic champion in 2009, and Rookie of the Year at last years' Nordic Poker Awards serves as an ample reference. His stack of 701,500, one of only two above the 700,000 mark, will make him a player to fear for those drawn at his table.
There was a sense the big guns were only just beginning to reach full speed today, as play moved into the Mandalay room at Casino Gran Madrid. Daniel Weinman and Hugo Lemaire began powering up, finishing on 676,500 and 658,000 respectively, while self-assured New Yorker Melanie Weisner closed on 543,500 and cocky EPT Berlin winner Ben Wilinofsky packed up 533,000. Will Reynolds, a former PCA High Roller winner ended the day on 541,500.
The day ended, conveniently, when we reached the money. After six levels of play Damien Rony moved all-in. It was a long bubble, stretching an already long day towards the early hours. But Rony had to go. Reduced to a mere 45,000, he shoved with ace-king, only to run into Ivan Freitez with pocket jacks. It brought relief to 104 players, not least Fatima Moreira de Melo, scoring her third cash in four EPTs, who closed on just 26,000.
Damien Rony (checked shirt)
Elsewhere, former winners keep the hope of a first double winner alive before the close of Season 7. I've personally given up ever thinking this is a record that will be set, but the distinguished pair of Ben Wilinofsky and Lucien Cohen could still prove me wrong.
For others though today marked the end of their Season 7. Dignitaries like Marcel Luske, Humberto Brenes, William Thorson, Ruben Visser, Rob Akery and Florian Langmann will now look forward to Season 8 to prove they are EPT champion material. Brian Hastings, Andre Akkari, Andy Black and Johannes Strassmann will join them on that quest, as will Fabian Quoss, Sami Kelopuro and Alex Kravchenko.
Former Champions were among the fallers. Arnaud Mattern went within minutes of the start, Jason Mercier would follow, as would former Grand Final winners Pieter de Korver and Nicolas Chouity. Others were shown the door, with Liv Boeree, Noah Boeken, Kevin Stani, Rob Hollink, Toby Lewis, Roland de Wolfe and Carter Phillips all done for another year.
Last year's winner Nicolas Chouity
Their demise, as well as the ascent of others, can be found in greater length by clicking through the links below. You can also find all the end of day scores on the Official Chip Count Page which will become Official when officials make it so.
That ends our Day 2 coverage. If you want to read all this in German, Dutch or Swedish then you did well to get this far. Click the links in that last sentence to find what you're looking for. Ja, Ja-sch, and hurdy-gurdy. Thanks also to photographer Neil Stoddart for the images today, a selection of which can be found on our Gallery page.
To tomorrow then, when we play down to 24, during what is likely to be a fascinating day. Until then, goodnight from Madrid.