EPT9 Prague: Ramzi Jelassi smashes through a million to lead last 55
Three days of EPT Prague are over but three must still be played until we name a champion. Picking a winner at this stage would be a fool's errand (or yours, via our terrific new competition) but after 20 levels of fierce hand-to-hand combat, there are now only 55 contenders left in the hunt for the €835,000 first prize.
Leading the way, the de facto favourite, is the powerful Swedish player Ramzi Jelassi, who finished with the most - 1,238,000 chips - at the end of a day during which the Russian stranglehold on the contest was finally broken.
At about 6.30pm local time, Andreas Berggren managed to achieve what had seemed to be impossible: he wrestled the chip-lead away from Iosif Beskrovnyy. Beskrovnyy had been out front through days one and two and a good deal of day three, building momentum from the head of the pack.
But after Berggren forced Beskrovnyy to peer at someone else's larger stack, several other players emerged to overhaul the seemingly impassable. Jelassi was the one who managed to prosper most tangibly in the late stages of the day, when the action grew more and more significant. He found aces against queens to win the first seven-figure pot of the tournament, and he was cramming most into his bag overnight.
Beskrovnyy is by no means out of this, however. He is in the chasing pack pack with 601,000 chips. But he is now rubbing shoulders with the likes of Jeff Sarwer (963,000), whose progress has been formidable, and Chris Brammer (1,021,000), whose 2012 has been sensational. It is very tough company at the top.
Mark Herm has 976,000. Martin Hanowski has 893,000. It is one of the most open tournaments there has been in a long time.
The lone Team PokerStars Pro in the field still is Johnny Lodden, who bagged up 456,000. His team-mates Juan Manuel Pastor and Pier Paolo Fabretti busted either side of the money bubble. Pastor took €8,000 for 113th, which was his 12th EPT main event cash, but Fabretti got nothing.
Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier, who spoke to Kristy Arnett earlier, also took €8,000 for his 100th place, but he could be in for a payday of €100,000 should Roger Hairabedian's bold wager fail at the last. Hairabedian is still in the final 55 with 173,000, but may be forced to cough up a huge amount to ElkY owing to a bold claim he made a couple of years back.
(The stone bubble, by the way, was earned by Rasmus Agerskov. Our reporter Stephen Bartley watched the drama unfold.)
Other things that caught our attention today: the differing approaches to poker taken by Kent Lundmark and Roberto Romanello, an alternate universe in which Liv Boeree is a physicist instead of a poker player, and a mid-day update that was quickly irrelevant. Romanello is the last former champion in the field. He has 278,000.
Tomorrow we will play down from 55 to 24, which will of course take us even nearer discovering the champ. In the meantime, keep an eye on the side events page to see whether ElkY or Hairabedian can grind themselves some super-valuable rankings points. If they can't, see who else does.
Until noon tomorrow, when we start again, goodnight.