Third final for Jacobson but Wilinofsky leads at EPT Berlin
The Grand National was raced today, the longest, toughest steeplechase in the world; four-and-a-half miles of Aintree turf, over 30 jumps, including twice over the infamous Bechers Brook (four feet 10 inches on the way up, five feet six inches on the way down), and The Chair (six feet high with a five foot two inch ditch), with 40 thoroughbreds snorting their way to the front.
Obviously we couldn't let an event like that pass by without digging up some analogy to Day 4 of the European Poker Tour main event in Berlin. With a day left to play in the German capital the many obstacles have been cleared, the leg work has been done and the mass field of riders, hell bent on magnificence, has faded away, leaving just eight finalists to compete in the final stretch.
Television cameras on standby
It was a day for potential champions and for also-rans, divided by differences in form and ability.
To players like chip leader Ben Wilinofsky, who bags up 5,225,000 tonight, the acquisition of chips was merely a means to an end. To others, including several players eliminated today, chips were an end in themselves, fuel with which to burn time, hanging on for each money jump.
Chip leader Ben Wilinofsky
The purest may bemoan this drain on the fun-loving spirit of the game, but in the cold light of day the game is about money, and both Luis Jaikel (15th) and the eBook reading Thomas Traboulsi (14th), maximised their opportunities to win as much as they could today.
The effect was a waiting game for others, those eyeing a spot at the final without having to engage in obscene unpredictable fumbles with these tail-enders. But with them gone the game opened up. Here's how the best of the bunch will line up tomorrow:
Seat 1. Maximilian Heinzelmann - 4,970,000
Seat 2. Martin Jacobson - 2,085,000
Seat 3. Vadzim Kursevich - 4,345,000
Seat 4. Darren Kramer - 2,235,000
Seat 5. Armin Mette - 2,185,000
Seat 6. Joep van den Bijgaart - 1,060,000
Seat 7. Ben Wilinofsky - 5,225,000
Seat 8. Jonas Gutteck - 1,025,000
If asked to predict chip counts for the likes of Wilinofsky, Jacobson or Heinzelmann today, the most accurate reply would be "anywhere between 400,000 and 4,000,000". The exact size did not matter; it was all about what you did with it.
The feature table in action
Wilinofsky put it to best use. Dominating, he made the feature table his manor, a lively place full of youth, fun and ultimately advantage Canada.
Heinzelmann played equally well, but contrast the feature table with his outer table, where, next to Martin Jacobson, the German survived a battle of attrition, with the bulk of eliminations emanating away from the TV spot lights, where the short stacks went to die.
Jacobson merits an end of day wrap to himself, reaching his third final table of the year (fourth in total), finishing second in both. Jacobson's talent is unmistakable, his focus obvious, but his biggest challenge, if he is to add to the more than $1.1 million he's won on the EPT this season alone, may be in avoiding the impossible-to-spot twists of fate and fortune, the pratfalls that every new champion must avoid.
Vadzim Kursevich played solidly. Rarely speaking, he used chips to clear every obstacle in his way. Joep van den Bijgaart built on the hard work of previous days, during which the Team PokerStars Pro flirted with elimination.
Joep van den Bijgaart
Darren Kramer was an actively chatty player, although perhaps less active with the cards, while Jonas Gutteck (who finished 21st here last year) was the finesse player with the short stack, spending the day doubling up. Armin Mette was happy to let the others bear the load but knocked out Daniel Pidun to end the day.
Pidun had led coming into the day, but like other chip leaders this week, was unable to turn that into a lasting advantage.
Others eliminated included Fabrice Soulier whose efforts came to an end in 11th place. Konstantin Puchkov nearly reached his second final table of the season, busting in 17th, while the other Team PokerStars Pro in today's field, Henrique Pinho, departed in 20th.
The race is nearly over, just a furlong to go before the newest EPT champion walks away with a first prize of €825,000.
Luis Jaikel (left) and Thomas Traboulsi united against forces seeking their demise
In the meantime you can read details of all of those eliminations, and more, at the links below.
Meanwhile the part-timers over at Mohegan Sun are mid-way through opening day in Uncasville. Find out whether or not that's a fictional place in the Mohegan Sun coverage section of the PokerStars Blog.
Until tomorrow, it's goodnight from Berlin.