EPT9 London Day 2: No white smoke over The Vic, but Visockis leads title race
If poker's esteemed players were asked to vote, by conclave, for a chip leader tonight, they might well have missed the name Mantas Visockis.
While cardinals from around the world did their voting today, Visockis found himself at the front of our equivalent queue tonight, closely followed by Matthias Tikerpe, equally anonymous. They bagged up 522,200 and 507,600 respectively, having come from nowhere.
Players might instead have picked Viktor Blom, who was at one stage favourite for highest honours tonight having lead after his seven-eight busted Paul Berende who held pocket kings. Blom performed double regicide on Berende, who accepted Blom's apology with a gracious "good luck in the tournament."
But Blom, who cares little for the bureaucracy of chip counts, was quickly knocked back again, half his stack going to Nick Abou Risk, a double UKIPT winner, who left Blom's stack looking distinctly average by the time he'd finished with it.
But however unexpected Visockis's rise there will be black smoke over The Vic smoking area tonight.
The papal conclave process, taking place several hundred miles away in the Vatican, is curiously simple. The doors of the Sistine Chapel are locked and remain so until the vote has been cast, to avoid any time wasting. It's not unheard of for the cardinals to take their time. In 1268 it took nearly three years for them to decide, angering the locals so much that they would only send in bread and water for sustenance. When that didn't work they began dismantling the roof.
The tournament room at The Vic
That's hardly likely to happen at the Vic, although for six levels today players were essentially locked in for the duration, albeit fully entitled to leave if they wished, but usually only doing so when required to by the rule book. And there was more than bread and water, with plates of scrambled eggs, salads, sandwiches and panini passed back and forth across the tournament room, chased urgently by napkins.
Some 115 Cardinals make their choice over there, by some coincidence roughly the same number as players available for top honours over here, each elected "by chip" donated by those no longer with us.
Surinder Sunar wearing ceremonial poker headgear
What do the EPT and the Papal election have in common? There's never been a double winner, of course. On that front the field today may have the edge on them, with Victoria Coren (33,800), David Vamplew (150,000), Mike McDonald (422,100), Nicolas Chouity (290,000), Liv Boeree (145,300), Jason Mercier (147,800) and Anton Wigg (90,300) all in contention. The only existing pope Benedict has got to be a long shot for that.
The players, much like their cardinal equivalents, will now retire to their hotel for the night, where no doubt the talk will be of who has the biggest chance of success. They'll return tomorrow for another go, although it will be several days yet before we can declare Habemus Victoremque!.
Players not returning today include Tom Dwan, who is not in the running to become pope, but still holds significant power over the number of hits a blog post earns by the mere mention of his name.
Others rail bound included Dermot Blain, Luke Schwartz, Ramzi Jelassi, Tom Dwan, Lex Veldhuis, Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier, Gus Hansen, Barry Greenstein, Ilari Sahamies, Vanessa Selbst, T. Dwan, Roberto Romanello, Tobias Reinkemeier, Jonathan Duhamel, Sam Trickett and Tom "Durrrr" Dwan.
It leaves a radically reduced field tonight without some of the bigger names, but as many have pointed out, the field remains filled with some significant talent, which will make for entertainment in the coming days.
Until then you can occupy yourself by looking back on the news from today, linked to below.
A full run down of all the official chip counts can be found on our chip count page, which also features all the hand-for-hand play from today. You can also find side event results, along with video blogs from Day 2, on the PokerStars Blog.
Goodnight from London. See you again tomorrow.
Stephen Bartley is a PokerStars Blog reporter