EPT10 Barcelona: Tom Middleton outstanding, leads again heading into penultimate day
Sometimes you cannot tell what kind of day it's been until the last hand has been dealt. At various stages of play today various players led, but it wasn't until the close that another player, seizing on the style of play that had served them well for four days, surged into the lead, bagging up the chip lead tonight in the same way he did yesterday. That's Tom Middleton, with 3,986,000.
Middleton, "hitthehole" online, bags up the lead tonight after a day that will likely shape who we see at the final table on Saturday. There is still one more session to go - 24 players will be cut down by two thirds tomorrow - but Middleton, who looks like a man in control of his own fate, looks likely to be among them.
Chip leader, again, Thomas Middleton
Asked how he put his stack together, Middleton shied away from specifics, although kings against the tens of Douglas Souza, at the midway point, gave Middleton enough chips to work with.
However he did it, Middleton will have good company in the last 24.
Aranas Alekberovas, who finished fourth in this event a year ago, looked unstoppable today, bagging up 2,638,000. There are times when a player both looks and plays like an EPT champion many levels before they actually confirm it. Alekberovas, who we profiled earlier in the day, will breeze to the final table tomorrow, barring any natural disaster. The prospect of him facing off against Middleton should already be cause to tune in to EPTLive tomorrow.
Between Alekberovas and Middleton is Alejandro Perez, a bullish figure at the table and Spain's best chance for victory on home soil - what would be a first EPT win - with 3,336,000.
Alejandro Perez Torres
The chase pack boasts several players more than capable of taking on their lead.
Kimmo Kurko, of Finland, is a veteran of the European poker scene and returns with enough chips - 2,427,000 of them -- to give Finland reason to cheer. Niall Farrell of Scotland does the same. Fresh off a runner-up spot in a bracelet event over the summer, and that near miss in London late last season, he has plenty of reasons reach the final table. His stack of 1,862,000 will also help.
Then there's Jamila von Perger, the last woman standing and poster girl for miracle rivers. Von Perger had played solidly all day but survived one of the hands of the day, catching one of two cards on the river to keep her alive with 712,000.
Jamila Von Perger (delighted, center)
There will be others, both known and unknown who will pull off some surprises tomorrow. For their names and counts check-up the chip count page.
On a day in which you lose 55 players among them will be several notables.
Reigning champion Mikolai Pobal departed within minutes of the start, followed by another former Barcelona winner Kent Lundmark in 64th place. Ireland's Dermot Blain, a Full Tilt Poker Tour Ambassador, was eliminated in 52nd place, while Mike Watson could get no further than 47th.
Dermot Blain (red hair)
The last of the former EPT winners, Dimitar Danchev, went out in 44th place, ending, for another event at least, the prospect of a first double winner. Christophe de Meulder was the last Team PokerStars Pro standing until he went in 36th, while former WSOP Main Event runner-up Martin Staszko ended the day when he busted in 25th. For others though, it's not over until the fat lady stops singing.
Christophe de Meulder
Beyond the main event Frenchman Alain Roy won a side event, while Kevin Vandersmissen cancelled his appointment at the Skrill desk. There was also a welcome appearance by golfer Sergio Garcia, making the trip from the green to the felt.
Carlos Mortensen's latest chip stack creation
When you've done all that, be sure to check out the new offering from the world of rap, courtesy of Nick Javas.
Until tomorrow, goodnight from Barcelona.
Stephen Bartley is a PokerStars Blog reporter.