EPT9 Prague: High rollers down to 16 at the dinner break

Far away, in the corner of a distant poker room, the EPT Prague High Roller plays on in the shadows of another event. That shadow is cast by the large barrier surrounding the main event TV stage, where the final nine played on, becoming eight a short while ago.

While they have an early finish ahead of their big day tomorrow, the high rollers, numbering 16 as they reached their dinner break, will play on until they reach that same figure, making it a Super Saturday tomorrow.

It seems an unusual place to shoehorn in some of the best players in the world, out of sight and away from spectators who might want to see in the flesh the players usually reserved for the covers of magazines.

Those include Team Pro Eugene Katchalov, who is currently the runaway chip leader, after a big hand against Niklas Astedt. Astedt had ace-king; Katchalov had aces, and suddenly a stack of more than 700,000.

Eugene Katchalov

One of the pleasing things about an event of this calibre is the ease with which you can identify players. Few in the field require an ID card and the chip count page reads like the honour roll for all the major tournaments in the world.

Behind Katchalov is chase group of some magnitude. The likes of Sorel Mizzi, Juha Helppi, Jason Mercier (now changing his flight booking for a second time), Marvin Rettenmaier, Olivier Busquet, Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier and Juha Lauttamus all edge closer to the final table.

Sorel Mizzi

They're still in. Were you to gather together those now out you'd have more than $18 million worth of combined tournament earnings.

Ole Schemion was among the first to go today, followed by Steve O'Dwyer, Davidi Kitai, Elio Fox, Andrew Chen, Philipp Gruissem, Kent Lundmark and the gloriously named Martin Quack, who may or may not be real.

Kent Lundmark

When the final table is set play will stop, to return tomorrow to play to a winner with none of the fanfare reserved for the main event, which you can read about here. Regardless, Saturday in Prague will be a poker day you won't want to miss.

Follow hand-by-hand coverage, plus latest chip counts, in the panel at the top of the main EPT Prague page.

Stephen Bartley
@StephenBartley in European Poker Tour