EPT10 Prague: Right on, Track. Final table set in record time
Twenty-two players had to be reduced to eight here in Prague today and as the authoritative tones of James Hartigan informed EPT Live viewers at noon, "Potentially, it's a long day of poker."
But anyone who banked on Hartigan and stocked up on energy drinks and jugs of coffee are now likely cursing his name and looking for their Costco receipt. We have reached our final table in a matter of four hours, including two redraws and a lot of time-wasting faffing. There has never been a quicker Day 5. (It was actually only two hours and 15 minutes of play.)
The leader of the last eight is Julian Track, the publicity-shy young German playing his first live tournament. He is an online beast, who won a package on PokerStars for this tournament, but said this week that he's finding live poker unbearably slow.
It's ironic, of course, that the fastest tournament ever is the one in which he essentially begins, and ends, his live tournament career for reasons of its sluggishness. But whatever happens tomorrow -- and he could end up with an €889,000 payday -- he will leave the EPT with our gratitude for his part in this supersonic passage of play.
Track won the biggest pot of the tournament so far to all but end the participation of Ori Hasson. It was representative of the whole day. Hasson had chipped up to about 3.5 million but didn't think twice about getting it all in A♣Q♦. Track, who had about 500,000 fewer, barely hesitated to call with his pocket tens.
The pair stood up, the German suddenly had 7.6m in chips and (forgive me) was right on Track.
Before today, the role of bully-in-chief had fallen to Max Silver, the UKIPT graduate who played almost all of yesterday on the feature table. Not since Gus Hansen tore through the early seasons of the WPT had a television audience seen VPIP numbers as high as Silver's. The difference was, this wasn't even just the television edit. It was live and in full.
Silver was irresistible yesterday, even as he shared the felt with the likes of Ole Schemion and Stephen Chidwick, neither of whom is exactly confrontation shy.
Silver built a stack yesterday that allowed him to take a back seat today, navigating a safe path to the final, where he will start second in chips. And the good news is that he'll be reacquainted with Chidwick and Schemion. Both of them made it too.
Here's how they will line up tomorrow:
Seat 1 - Jorma Nuutinen, Finland, 975,000
Seat 2 - Stephen Chidwick, UK, 4,935,000
Seat 3 - Ole Schemion, Germany, 2,400,000
Seat 4 - Georgios Sotiropoulos, Greece, 4,320,000
Seat 5 - Julian Track, Germany, 7,240,000
Seat 6 - Ka Kwan Lau, Spain, 2,995,000
Seat 7 - Zdravko Duvnjak, Croatia, 1,225,000
Seat 8 - Max Silver, UK, 5,935,000
This was another amazing day in Schemion's grandstand 2013. Indeed, it came to our attention earlier this week that if he finished 17th or higher in this event, he would secure the title as GPI Player of the Year. Schemion must have looked down at his stack of about 100 big blinds, surveyed the opposition, and pretty much ordered himself a rosette.
He cruised into the last 16 at about 2pm, and now he's on his first EPT Main Event final table. It is his 14th major final in the past 12 months and is the least surprising thing to have happened all year.
Chidwick is also on an amazing roll. Having out-lasted 1,010 players to finish third in the Eureka Main Event, he has now seen off 999 in this tournament. Dmitri Holdeew, who beat Chidwick to the Eureka title, was one of the fallers today. He too has had a ridiculous week, and also bagged his buy-in back after winning the Skrill last-longer, courtesy of the official payment provider to the EPT.
Tomorrow is another day, of course, and with an average stack of about 95 big blinds, Hartigan may yet find himself accurately predicting an epic. But for now, we're looking out the window on an central European winter and seeing daylight. It's remarkable.
Even Sigurd Eskelund, the Norwegian bracelet winner who bubbled the final table, found something to be cheery about. "Now I get to go home a day early to see my kids," he said.
For a look back at live coverage of Day 5 of the EPT10 Prague Main Event, head to the EPT Prague Main Event page. There's hand-by-hand coverage and chip counts in the top panel, plus feature pieces below the line. The same applies for the High Roller event on the High Roller page, which continues to play on.
All the information about this festival can be found on the main European Poker Tour website.