Eugene Yanayt leads last 24, while Gomes stalks Triple Crown
Poker will always be about attrition. You might need all the chips to win but to survive you just need to last longer than the others, stay in while they bust out. It's the plain speaking truth of the game, and with that in mind we arrived today ready to batten down hatches for a long day by the baize.
Instead, we got a fire-sale, an everything-must-go extravaganza, where in the early stages players abandoned caution, holding instead the spirit of adventure to their chests, as they freefell to either the rail or onto a soft chip-filled cushion, seven figures high.
We came expecting this tit-for-tat battle, but we finish in time for bars, clubs, tapas and the Real Madrid game (almost), with our final 24 players now in place.
The 24 that do remain should make Day 4 perfect as a prelude to the final, a mixture of professionals, Team Pros and newcomers, with records to be set and broken, and a former tennis pro (Raemon Sluiter) thrown in to keep the cholesterol average legal.
Mark, one of the EPT dealers, in action
First among them is chip leader Eugene Yanayt. He leads tonight having taking a million from former chip leader Ole-Kristian Nergard in a key hand that thrust the American into first place with 2,374,000 chips.
Following Yanayt is Torsten Brinkmann who has been among the leaders since Day 2, and who broke the million mark this afternoon when he eliminated McLean Karr, taking a bundle off of Kristoffer Thorsson in the process. He has 1,959,000.
In third place is Simon Higgins who boasts a record that is, well, brief. A quick glance at his live tournament record shows zero results. But at least he has a Hendon Mob page and he need only need look as far as EPT Berlin winner Ben Wilinofsky, as evidence that significant work experience is not always necessary for the position of champion.
If it is records you want, the departure of Wilinofsky and Lucien Cohen today ended any hope of a double winner, but there remains the prospect of a Triple Crown.
Alex Gomes took leg one at the World Series in 2008, amid scenes of jubilation usually reserved for when Brazil win the World Cup. A little more than a year later he did the same at the WPT Bellagio Cup V (we don't count the win in the $270 no-limit turbo at the PCA). He now stands on the brink of a potential EPT title.
Make no mistake, there is work still to be done, and his stack of 655,000 will need some sprucing up, but Gomes is a player handy with any amount in front of him. Triple Crown winners form an exclusive club (only Gavin Griffin and Roland de Wolfe occupy its brandy-stained, cigar-marked leather armchairs), but Gomes is exactly the type of player they would welcome as a member.
Victor Ramdin already has two EPT cashes this season (in the PCA and at San Remo), as has Domantas Klimciauskas (Copenhagen, Snowfest). If you want more there are the Team PokerStars Pro duo Juan Maceiras and Dag Palovic.
Maceiras has a final table and multiple EPT cashes to his name. He's also on home soil and eager to impress in front of home crowds and reach a final table that will be broadcast across the country, becoming what would be the first Spanish EPT winner.
He may not have the home advantage but Slovakian Palovic doesn't ever seem to need it. Forever decked out in a Slovakian scarf, Palovic, whose other affectation is to stack his chips in stacks of five, Dagged his way into Day 4 after defending for most of the day. He returns with 244,000 chips tomorrow. Stand back and watch him talk his way into the final.
We lost 30 players in the first level, a torrent of eliminations that set us up for what never seemed anything but a frenetic day of player after player departing for the cash desk. The guarantee of a payday may have done something to enthuse players not typically found at the business end of a competition like this, but for others it was a case of live fast or die, with a host of talented players busting along the way.
The list of those eliminated read like the entry list for a typical Day 1. Team PokerStars Pro Asia Raymond Wu (99th) was among the early fallers, followed by Fatima Moreira de Melo (94th), Xuan Liu (75th), Former chip leader David Sonelin (71st), Shander de Vries (70th), Ivan Demidov (67th), Will Molson (59th), Tobias Reinkemeier (57th) and Kristoffer Thorson (56th).
Team PokerStars Pro Fatima Moreira de Melo
Further eliminations followed, with Team PokerStars Pro Leo Fernandez (45th) departing one place ahead of Ben Wilinofsky (44th). Then went Ted Forrest (38th), EPT Player of the Year elect Fernando Brito (37th), Lucien Cohen (33rd) and then Eugene Katchalov (27th) at the bell.
An exciting day today should be followed by an even better one tomorrow, and until 12 noon tomorrow, when we start all over again, you can catch up on the action from Day 3 at the links below and find all the scores of the last 24 on the Official Chip Count page.
Before we leave tonight there is time to thank our "foreign" colleagues, bloggers writing in German, Dutch and Swedish, although there was a two hour spell this afternoon where I had a crack a the Swedish one, so it may be a little vague. Also thanks to our photographer Neil Stoddart for all the images used today.
That's all for tonight then. Join us tomorrow as the last 24 players become eight. It's often the best day. I'm contractually obliged not to miss it, but I'll say now it will be worth tuning in voluntarily to see.
Until then, goodnight from Madrid.