EPT10 Prague: Max Silver shines to lead last 22 in Main Event
Contrary to its billing as the highlight of this EPT Prague festival, the Main Event played on today in crowded obscurity, three tables penned in against a wall on one side, and the high rollers on the other. The feature table meanwhile was a commune of sorts, stranded on the other side of the room, behind Pot-Limit Omaha and a hold'em deep stack.
But while the effect might have been to lessen its impact visually, on closer inspection it provided all manner of surprises today, setting up what will be a corking Day 5 when the remaining 22 players return tomorrow. They'll be led there by Max Silver, bagging up 3,987,000, who today was at his unstoppable best.
While Silver's story this week has been of a chip stack in the ascendant, the past four years has been about success at every level.
Starting out as a regular on the UKIPT--winning the Dublin leg in 2010--Silver then tested himself against EPT and World Series opposition, graduating with honours to a level that four years later has him mixing with high rollers around the world. He's now the favourite to reach the final on Wednesday, and perhaps even more.
Chip leader Max Silver
But while Silver will be happy with the scores tonight, he'd be the first to acknowledge that some serious opposition stands in the way of a first EPT title. Principally it's in the form of Stephen Chidwick, Ole Schemion and Julian Track.
Of those Chidwick's appearance towards the top of the chip count page was least surprising, given his remarkable form in Prague this week. Having reached the final table of the Eureka event last week he jumped straight into the Main Event, continuing in the same way. His shirt choice might be garish, but there was no faulting his play, good for 2,084,000 tonight.
Ole Schemion also kept pace with the leaders. The German has his eye not just on EPT silverware but of another title, that of GPI Player of the Year which is his with a finish of 17th or better. That would be good enough to bump Daniel Negreanu from top spot, and Schemion's stack of 2,700,000 makes that all the more likely.
Then there's Julian Track, a German, which is about all we know of him. With no live results or record to speak of Track is the Main Event's dark horse. But he's doing something right, holding the lead at several stages today and ending the day on 3,010,000.
It's not just those at the top of the counts who have the potential to cause an upset or two, as the seat draw for tomorrow demonstrates.
Andrew Chen remains on course for a fourth EPT final table. He saw off four players today, including Vit Blachut, and last year's runner-up Sotirios Koutoupas. That was good enough to leave the Canadian with 1,134,000 chips tonight.
Spaniard Ke Kwan Lau was also back to his fighting weight. Setbacks earlier in the week could have dereailed him but he showed the right kind of fortitude to mount a comeback, finishing on 1,350,000 today.
There are others. Bracelet winner Sigurd Eskeland will be back, so too Londoner Tamer Kamel. You can find full counts for each of the remaining players, as well as details of all the pay-outs so far right here.
Kamel in action against Ana Marquez
None of the above had been part of the plan at noon today. Instead we were expecting to watch the continued dominance of French pro, and former EPT winner, Ludovic Lacay, whose chip lead seemed more than adequate as a means to picking up where he'd left off.
That would have been the case had a hand against Silver gone differently, the hand that would change the course of the day's play. Instead Lacay called Silver's all-in with kings, watching as Silver showed aces. They proved golden. Lacay would hang on but would never recover, busted in 33rd place by Ori Hasson.
There were other notable departures both before and after Lacay.
Blachut, who has dazzled with his play and his likeness to Harry Potter actor Daniel Radcliffe, was quaffled in 43rd place.
Ari Engel spoke earlier this week of his life as a "homeless" poker player, which this month brought him to Prague. He was attempting to repeat his final table appearance here in 2011, but while he was declared the happiest of players, his Main Event came to an end in 37th place.
That was two places ahead of the last remaining woman in the field, Ana Marquez, whose 35th place finish was down largely to a vicious level that took half her stack, before Zdravko Duvnjak took the rest.
As for the others, you can read of their demise throughout our live coverage pages. In addition you can imagine how the day looked prior to the start of play, and hear how Tamer Kamel seeks to prove himself once more against the best in the game.
That story, and many others, resumes tomorrow, with play continuing until a final table is reached. Coverage on the PokerStars Blog, and will continue at 12 noon.
For now you can entertain yourself with coverage of the High Roller event which plays on into the night.
Stephen Bartley is a PokerStars Blog reporter.