EPT9 Berlin Day 4: The big-name-killing virus strikes again

EPT Berlin is gradually becoming one of those tournaments. You know, one of the events when your eyes scan the final few tables and skip from one seat rapidly to the next, desperately seeking a familiar face on which to alight for a few moments.

The final 20 here would make a darn fine Scrabble score, or an exercise at elocution class, but it's less certain that we're on for one of the all time final tables. Stephen Bartley is busy counting up the cashes amassed by some of these players (his calculations will be made known soon, but don't expect the zero button on his computer to be overused, nor even the keys that spell m-i-l-l-i-o-n), but I want to know what has happened to all the big names. How come none of them could make it so far?

In short, I think there's been a particularly virulent strain of the "Day Four Virus" doing the rounds this week. It has been in incubation all season, but has now hit epidemic levels. It's true: day four of all the EPT events on the present calendar has been a bloodbath, and in particular for the so-called "name" players. We can often play through the last levels of day three and have high hopes for a blistering final table, but then we always seem to hit a huge bump in the road.

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Thang Duc Nguyen: infected by a virulent virus

Take Sanremo in October. Day four began with the following still in the hunt: Roberto Romanello, Shaun Deeb, Michael Watson, Isaac Haxton, David Vamplew, Justin Bonomo, Dimitar Danchev and Yevgeniy Timoshenko. By the end of it, only Timoshenko had made the final three tables.

At the PCA, we had Griffin Benger, Darren Elias, Greg Mueller, Chris Klodnicki, Mohsin Charania, Eugene Katchalov, Olivier Busquet, Jake Cody, Scott Clements and Carlos Mortensen going into day four. But by the start of day five, only Charania, Elias and Busquet were still alive, and all with short stacks.

The old double-champion hunt has also remained fruitless again, and we haven't even had a sweat. No former EPT champions have made any of the season nine final tables, and only one has made the last two: Nicolas Chouity in London last month.

Day four here accounted for Liv Boeree, Sandra Naujoks and Thang Duc Nguyen, leaving us only with the short stack of Kevin Stani. The only other "name" players left are Olivier Busquet and Calvin Anderson and they too have a smaller than average stack.

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Kevin Stani: The last former champion in Berlin

Perhaps this is all boding well for Monaco. Perhaps the Grand Final will give us an all-star cast from pillar to post. Or perhaps we're just being made to pay for all the excitement of London last month, where the final was as stacked as we could have hoped.

I suppose there's always the High Roller...

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Russian dolls

There are so many events at the EPT stops these days that it's a wonder the tournament officials can keep track of what is happening where. Similarly there are tournament clocks flashing all the way across the room, each bearing information from a different tournament.

At one time today there were clocks of at least three different sizes, the first (projection screen size) bearing the main event info, the next (television size) showing the Win the Button countdown and the third (laptop) telling the heads up players from the Omaha Eight tournament what to ante up.

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The biggest clock in the room...

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...and the two smaller brothers

We're waiting for "aeroplane TV screen" and "iPhone" to come into play in Monaco.

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Don't forget the way to follow our main event coverage. There's hand-by-hand stuff, including chip counts, in the panel at the top of the main EPT Berlin page. There will be feature pieces below that panel, including updates from the side events. EPT Live is now live. And everything to do with the European Poker Tour is on the European Poker Tour site.

Howard Swains
@howardswains in European Poker Tour