EPT8 Monaco: Massimiliano Martinez strikes at the bell to take lead
Six levels changed the shape of the PokerStars Monte-Carlo®Casino European Poker Tour Grand Final today, as the remaining 394 players were ground down mercilessly in Europe's biggest event, to a last 130, led by chip leader, Team PokerStars Pro Massimiliano Martinez.
Martinez took the lead at the very close of play, pulling off what some had noticed was a remarkable comeback. Yesterday the Italian had plummeted to just 10,000 after losing a vital flip against Vladimir Gehskenbein. Then, earlier today, he had his aces cracked by Fabrice Soulier. Undeterred he outflanked them all to grab the lead tonight, bagging up 456,300, succeeding where others had repeatedly failed.
Nick Yunis has led a few times this season, each time though he has been unable to hold onto it, struggling with stage fright. Only Yunis will be able to explain it, and he pointed towards a mistake counting an opponent's stack; but Monaco proved no less unforgiving for the talented Chilean who went from chip leader to the rail at the mid-way point.
The Italian rail in action
Vladimir Geshkenbein, who took the lead soon after Yunis gave it up, suffered a similar fate, although his self-confessed maniacal style might have had something to do with it. He also crashed out as the field began to thin.
As always the chip lead was proving a tricky token to hang on to.
Justin Bonomo, who started the week by winning the €100,000 Super High Roller, took it then lost it, although he managed to spend the day among the leaders. David Sands did the same, one of the first players past the 300,000 mark before Mohsin Charnia stretched that to 380,000 and then more, looking like the likely chip leader until Martinez turned on the heroics.
David "Doc" Sands
Joining him will be the remaining 130 or so players who will first face the task of breaching the bubble before securing a place in the penultimate day. They include the likes of Chris Brammer, Erik Seidel, Nacho Barbero, Richard Toth, Rupert Elder, Pius Heinz, Angel Guillen, Annette Obrestad, Nicolas Chouity, Martin Finger, Ilan Boujenah, Johnny Lodden, Faraz Jaka and Liv Boeree.
For many though, Season 8 of the European Poker Tour is already over. Gone today were Steve O'Dwyer, Barry Greenstein (C'est fini), Humberto Brenes, Isaac Baron, Ondrek Vinklarek, Chris Moneymaker, Phil Ivey, William Reynolds, Freddy Deeb, Tobias Reinkemeier, (breathe), Ana Marquez, John Eames, Chris Moorman, Dario Minieri, Toby Lewis, Daniel Negreanu, Fatima Moreira de Melo, Joe Cada, Fabrice Soulier, John O'Shea and Sam Trickett, the list goes on and on, and can be viewed here, as can the live coverage and chip counts from the day's play.
The rest you can find in the articles published today, links to which can be found below...
It takes us to Day 3, which begins tomorrow at 12 noon when the field will be reduced to just 24 players across three tables.
Monaco from Le Sporting
Until then, it's goodnight from Monaco.
All photography © Neil Stoddart