EPT9 Barcelona: Two drunken Finns
With two final tables to play to a close tonight, there were all kinds of permutations for intriguing mini-battles to develop.
We were looking forward to seeing John Juanda clash with Ilari Sahamies in a live versus online skirmish to please the purists from both environments, for example. Meanwhile on the High Roller final table we had the chance to watch Tobias Reinkemeier clash with Alex Bilokur in a High Roller specialists showdown.
The problem is that poker is run through by variance and there are no guarantees of anything. A pretty grim hand accounted for Juanda against Samuel Rodriguez early on, before Juanda had got anywhere near clashing with Sahamies. And even though Bilokur and Reinkemeier got to play much longer together, they both had big stacks a lot of the time and were intent on getting out of each other's way.
Reinkemeier then bust in third leaving Bilokur heads up against Laurent Polito. They almost immediately made a deal, all but chopping the money down the middle (Bilokur €295,451 to Polito's €270,229) leaving only the title and the Shamballa bracelet to play for. Play post-deal is still some way interesting, but not as much as when they're doing it for real.
That moved us back to the main event final table for the hope of a real humdinger. With two Finns in the last four of that tournament, there is the potential for a really good heads up battle between countrymen.
Joni Jouhkimainen has been crushing the table this afternoon, moving into a massive chip lead of 18,900,000 to the others' combined 13 million. The only player who seems capable of taking him on is that man Sahamies, a heads up, high stakes specialist, who cut his teeth on Finland's casino scene.
Sahamies also proposed a way to make it more interesting: "We drink when we get heads up," he said to Jouhkimainen, whose silence can only be interpreted as assent.
People come to Barcelona mainly for the sun, sand, tapas and Gaudi. But I reckon a heads up, high stakes poker duel between two drunken Finns would top all that.