EPT9 Barcelona: Ninety nine

ept-thumb-promo.jpgThe tournament information board in Barcelona is currently telling players to go on their third break of the day. It's the end of level 18 and when they return, they will be playing blinds of 3,000-6,000 with a 1,000 ante.

The other number that matters at the moment is in the "Players" column itself, which has now ticked down to double digits for the first time. There are 99 left, less than a tenth of the starting field, and matters grow more meaningful hand by hand.

Ilari Sahamies is still the leader of the pack, with about 1.2m chips. He has recently been moved on to John Juanda and Zimnan Ziyard's table, which could mean all kinds of fireworks.

Ziyard, who is now the only former EPT champion still in the field, has a relatively meagre 140,000 chips. Juanda, the chip leader over night, is still doing just fine, with around 780,000.

Speaking of chip leaders, Guy Bachar (the Day 1B leader) is still battling hard and reaping the reward. He has 870,000. Aku Joentausta (the Day 1A) leader, has about 450,000.

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Guy Bachar: no looking back

Team PokerStars Pro has suffered a bit of a cull this afternoon. Sebastian Ruthenberg and Theo Jorgensen have now been joined on the rail by Angel Guillen, Henrique Pinho, Ana Marquez, Daniel Negreanu and Joao Nunes. "Ah, it's OK," said Nunes. "I'm in the money."

Nunes won €8,400 for his 147th place; Pinho the same for 136th. Negreanu actually seemed surprisingly chipper too when he made the walk of shame from the television table. As he progressed down the catwalk, behind a huge wall of LEDs spelling his name, Negreanu offered a little jump and click of his heels. His 118th place was worth €9,950, the same as Marquez got for her 115th.

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Ana Marquez: "The smile"

Petter Northug, the Norwegian skiing champion, continues an ice-smooth transition to the poker tables, cashing for the second time in the week. His run ended in 135th and another €8,400 cheque hitting his bank balance.

Northug met with Lex Veldhuis yesterday to talk strategy, and although Veldhuis didn't make the money himself, Northug is not the only one of his students to go deep. The Team PokerStars Sportstar Fatima Moreiro de Melo has spent the best part of four years in intense discussions with Veldhuis, and it is paying dividends now.

Moreira de Melo is on the secondary feature table this afternoon and is tearing it up. She now has about 800,000, most recently slow-playing kings against the aggressive Swede Bjorn Lindberg and winning.

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Fatima Moreira de Melo and Robbie Thompson, the feature table announcer. (Fatima is on the left)

Earlier today, Moreira de Melo was a table-mate of Matthias De Meulder, also of Team PokerStars Pro. Although they have now been separated, De Meulder is also still in this tournament. He is reading Facebook updates from the EPT Facebook page on his iPad, which sits atop a stack of about 190,000.

Juan Manuel Pastor, the last Spanish Team Pro in the field, has 160,000.

Correction: Roberto Romanello is among the remaining players. That means two former EPT champions are still in contention.


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Howard Swains
@howardswains in European Poker Tour