EPT9 Barcelona: Samuel Rodriguez the surprise leader on Day 4

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It took a little more than six hours to reduce a field of 61 to 24, the final three tables of players who will return to Casino Barcelona tomorrow with an eye on reaching the first main event final table of the new season.

There are few dull moments on such a dramatic stage and today it was Samuel Rodriguez adding the shine.

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Samuel Rodriguez: "I had a very good day."

Rodriguez, 25, plays in local poker games, but as far as high stakes events such as this it's a whole new world. He bags up 5,330,000 tonight and a sizeable chip lead in his home town event. Not bad for student who won his seat in a €50 satellite.

"I had a very good day," he said. "I feel great. It's my first EPT so being the chip leader with two days remaining is very nice. Now I want to make the final nine. I'm very, very surprised, but I played some good poker."

Rodriguez's ride through day four was no walk on the beach. He faced tough opposition on the feature table; the likes of Fatima Moreira de Melo (805,000), Frenchman Alain Roy (445,000) and Ilari Sahamies (1,040,000) making life hard under the television lights. On the surface he appeared unfazed. He was a player enjoying the game and playing well, even when things didn't go strictly according to plan.

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Fatima Moreirda de Melo

At the end of the day, Rodriguez admitted that the pivotal hand was one against Ilari Sahamies, when, wanting to call, Rodriguez accidentally put in too many chips. He was then forced not only to raise, but also to call another raise from Sahamies. But it worked out brilliantly for Rodriguez, who was only accidentally swelling a pot he would go on to win.

Others returning on the penultimate day include Australian Jonathan Karamalikis in second place (3,085,000), Mikalia Pobal from Belarus (2,745,000) and leader coming into the day Antonin Duda from the Czech Republic (2,054,000), Duda being sure to use the right number of zeros.

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Jonathan Karamalakis

Both John Juanda (1,644,000) and Lucille Cailly (1,431,000), each with a second place to their name, continue their quest for a first. Looking to become the first player to win two EPT title is Roberto Romanello (497,000). He'll be hampered by a short stack, but Romanello rarely allows such trivialities to concern him. Besides, as detailed earlier in today's coverage, it's long overdue.

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Lucille Cailly

Tomorrow we play down to a final table and it will be up to Rodriguez to prove his performance today was not owing to some capricious good fortune. For his part he sounded pragmatic.

"My plan for the next two days is to...well, let's see what happens tomorrow," he said. "Tomorrow will be another day."

*****

Coverage continues tomorrow at 12 noon. The final 24 will line-up as follows:

Table 1
Seat 1. Lucille Cailly, France, 1,431,000
Seat 2. Antonin Duda, Czech Republic, PokerStars qualifier, 2,054,000
Seat 3. Ole Schemion, Germany, PokerStars qualifier, 1,571,000
Seat 4. Javier Piazuelo, Spain, 1,256,000
Seat 5. Jonathan Karamalikis, Australia, PokerStars qualifier, 3,085,000
Seat 6. Morten Mortensen, Denmark, 392,000
Seat 7. Alex Casals, Spain, 731,000
Seat 8. John Juanda, United States, 1,644,000

Table 2
Seat 1. Saveikis Algirdas, Lithuania, 488,000
Seat 2. Alain Roy, France, 445,000
Seat 3. Mauro Canavese, Italy, PokerStars qualifier, 1,026,000
Seat 4. Ilari Sahamies, Finland, 1,040,000,
Seat 5. Fatima Moreira de Melo, Netherlands, Team PokerStars SportStar, 805,000
Seat 6. Mikolaj Zawadzki, Poland, PokerStars qualifier, 1,006,000
Seat 7. Luis Rufas, Spain, 405,000
Seat 8. Elias Gutierrez Hernandez, Spain, 1,290,000

Table 3
Seat 1. Ibon Merino Borbolla, Spain, PokerStars qualifier, 615,000
Seat 2. Joni Jouhkimainen, Finland, 1,161,000
Seat 3. Aku Joentausta, Finland, PokerStars qualifier, 1,015,000
Seat 4. Anton Sinel, Romania, 1,974,000
Seat 5. Anaras Alekberovas, Lithuania, PokerStars qualifier, 685,000
Seat 6. Mikalai Pobal, Belarus, 2,745,000
Seat 7. Roberto Romanello, United Kingdom, 497,000
Seat 8. Samuel Rodriguez, Spain, PokerStars qualifier, 5,330,000

Tomorrow we'll also have reports from the €10,000 High Roller Event which will be entering its second day. You can read the latest via the relevant widget. You'll also find results from all the side events here.

Today's Daily Strategy, courtesy of Team Pro Ville Wahlbeck, is well worth a look for an insight into how to approach a major tournament series like EPT Barcelona. You can also read the middle bit of the tournament which at one stage seemed dominated by Russians , then Finns.

See you tomorrow.