EPT8 Monaco: Geert Jan Potijk leads with 26 remaining

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We expected a longer day when players returned to Le Sporting for the PokerStars Monte-Carlo®Casino European Poker Tour Grand Final this afternoon and we got it, with a day of tense action stripping a field of 130 down to 26, two short of the 24 we'd intended, led tonight by chip leader Geert Jan Potijk who takes 1,320,000 and the advantage into the penultimate day.

As play reached 1am tournament directors decided that enough was enough and that play would finish at the end of the level rather than when two further players had been eliminated. It is the Grand Final after all and no one was in any rush to put their title hopes on the line. A longer day tomorrow perhaps but if today is anything to go by those watching will not be disappointed.

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Geert Jan Potijk

The day started at the crack of just after noon.

Max Martinez had everything going for him back then, having out flanked everyone to snatch the lead the night before. He was quickly scuttled though by Geert Jan Potijk (Martinez would finish in 87th place) who assumed the lead and then stretched out his advantage first to 670,000 and then, after a middle of the day lull, even further. With 27 players left he scooped a three way pot against Justin Bonomo and Andrew Pantling to finish with the chip lead.

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The new look feature table

Other leaders today included another Italian, Sergio Catellucio, who assumed the brief lead by virtue of Noah Boeken's demise, and later by crippling Erik Seidel. While Castellucio finished strong with 944,000, Vadzim Markushevski was also beginning to set the pace, the first in the field to break the million mark. Yet, again, even he wouldn't keep his lead, bagging up 922,000 at the close, although he'll be another threat when players reconvene tomorrow.

Others took prominent roles during the seven levels of play.

Mohsin Charania, who would have been leader last night were it not for Martinez's Houdini act, continued in the same fashion that kept him out front for most of yesterday. He started by busting Rupert Elder then scored a big double up against Andrew Pantling, closing on 875,000.

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Mohsin Charania

Dominykas Karmazinas was also showing the form we've seen flashes of before. He was among the first to take his stack beyond 500,000, then more, before Markushevski took a quarter of a million chips from him. Karmazinas paid the price and does not return tomorrow.

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Vadzim Markushevski

At times it looked like the wonderfully named Tudor Grangure was about to get late middle ages on their ass, moving into the lead before Potijk. But Grangure was to endure a swingy day, recovering from earlier setbacks in a big pot against Markushevski. He returns tomorrow with 828,000.

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Tudor Grangure

Perhaps one of the stand out players of the day was Pratyush Buddiga. Only a week after he finished eighth in only his third EPT in Berlin, Buddiga patiently managed his stack during the drought, then rode a surf board through the flood, busting Chanracy Khun to move up to 700,000 before finishing on 970,000.

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Pratyush Buddiga

Along the way it seemed like the majority of the big names found their way to the rail.

Annette Obrestad ran tens into kings to depart before the money while Pius Heinz also went to the rail (or the €2,000 side event at least) empty handed thanks to Dimitar Danchev. Johnny Lodden followed, losing out in a three-way pot with Jason Wheeler. Faraz Jaka also busted before the bubble, which was burst by Adam Levy after three simultaneous all-in hands left Martin Finger and Andrew Badecker sharing the money for 96th place.

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Adam Levy gets the bubble treatment

A few days ago Justin Bonomo was tearing up the Super High Roller, winning €1,640,000 at the televised final. He was doing similar work in the main event (albeit for a first prize of slightly less) until his chances were quashed in a three-way hand with Potijk and Pantling that cost Pantling thousands and Bonomo his tournament life, all while setting up the Dutchman.

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Justin Bonomo

A final word should be reserved for Lucille Cailly who as well as being the last lady standing is among the leaders at the close. Solid, stable, emotionally mature and focused, if Cailly keeps that up (and there's no reason to think otherwise) she could be on course for her first EPT final, bagging up 999,000 tonight.

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Lucille Cailly

The full run down of pay outs can be found alongside all the live coverage today and the official scores of the remaining 24 players, on the official live coverage page. Links to features and interviews from the day's play can be found below:

  • 130 to become 24 with bubble on the way
  • Day 3 seat draw
  • Karmazinas on the rise again, Pantaleo falling
  • All must have prizes, well most
  • Charania and Martinez off to slow starts
  • Poker Champ Neuville keeps swinging, Seidel dominant
  • Finger bursts bubble and pulls out of PoY race
  • Passing the bubble and the discomfort that involves
  • Toth almost has them right where he wants them
  • Buddiga looking to maintain Berlin form
  • Super High Roller Bonomo turns his attention to the main
  • The world beyond Le Sporting
  • Catching up with Karmakinas
  • Cailly mashing, tempers fraying, 27 remain

    Coverage of Day 4 of the The PokerStars Monte-Carlo®Casino European Poker Tour Grand Final continues tomorrow, when in the traditional way 24 players across three tables will be reduced to eight players on one. Play starts at 12 noon.

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    Monaco in the sunshine

    Until then it's goodnight from Monaco.

    All photography © Neil Stoddart