EPT9 Monaco Day 3: The only way is up for Lodden as competition gets fierce in the Principality

As day three of the PokerStars and Monte-Carlo® Casino European Poker Tour Grand Final entered its late stages tonight, PokerStars Blog began aggregating the player-to-bloke ratio of the remaining field. Loosely translated, that means we started looking at how many of those still in the hunt for €1,224,000 we already knew, and how many were strangers to us, choosing a great place to have their breakout performance.

By the time the last 34 bagged up chips tonight, it had skewed even further in the favour of the "players". The "blokes" were on the ropes. Although the entire field of this tournament can already be housed around five eight-handed tables, with a couple of spare seats, it still includes the following: Johnny Lodden, Steve O'Dwyer, Andrew Pantling, John Juanda, Noah Schwartz, Victor Ramdin, Jason Mercier, Jake Cody, Paul Volpe, Daniel Negreanu, Andrew Lichtenberger, Andrew Chen, Freddy Deeb, Luke Schwartz, Mickey Petersen and Ville Wahlbeck.

That, ladies and gentlemen, is one heck of a line-up.


A sample of the talent on show: (l-r) Victor Ramdin, Luke Schwartz, Jason Mercier, Igor Kurganov

Lodden leads them, for the second day in succession. He has 1,232,000 and the only one with more than a million. When the Team PokerStars Pro bagged up a chip lead last night, we stated with only a slight pinch of irony that it would still be possible for him to bubble this tournament, such is his reputation for enduring massive swings. But Lodden didn't bubble. (That sorry accolade went to Chad Brown.) Instead he went from strength-to-strength, exploiting his reputation brilliantly by actually showing up with huge hands when someone tried to bluff him, and playing his customary pitch-perfect aggressive game for the rest of the time.


Johnny Lodden: didn't bubble, leads instead

Steve O'Dwyer is second, with 963,000 and who would bet against him making yet another final table. I certainly wouldn't. It would keep us here all night if all we did was start tallying up O'Dwyer's major tournament final tables of the past year. O'Dwyer does something pretty good around a poker table. Pretty, pretty good.


Steve O'Dwyer: pretty, pretty good

In a season that has not yet yielded a champion for either the UK or the USA, who better to have in those respective corners than Cody or Mercier (in addition to O'Dwyer, of course). Those two have 639,000 and 756,000 respectively, and it's surely been too long since either of those held a trophy aloft. I mean, Cody hasn't won anything since the UKIPT Series all the way back into last month (last month!), while it's been at least three full days since Mercier won the open-face Chinese event here. Poor show.


Jake Cody: pictured yesterday, still there today

For all that, and for all those big names, this is actually still anyone's game. We have rattled through the three days so far, and slain more than 80 per cent of our field. But anyone who has come this far already can easily go further. Check out some of the other counts:

John Juanda - 939,000
Noah Schwartz - 756,000
Daniel Negreanu - 684,000
Freddy Deeb - 670,000
Grant Levy - 513,000
Victor Ramdin - 479,500
Mickey Petersen - 362,000
Ville Wahlbeck - 228,000
Luke Schwartz - 188,000
Noah Boeken - 105,000

Our hasty progress so far means that we start tomorrow at 3pm, when we will play down to 18. By that point, the final table will be in sight.

Our coverage today kicked off with Victor Ramdin sharing his wealth of experience, and even had us blinking into the bright Monaco sunlight. Our new friend Arlo Dotson had a nice chat with Sarah Grant, and we were then ringside for the latest chapter in the continuing saga of the enigmatic Luke Schwartz. As ever, Stephen Bartley was the man for all the very best writing around the bubble period, while Rick Dacey had something to celebrate, with Jan Bendik winning a side event.

Neil Stoddart was the man with the camera, while Daniel Negreanu put his underwear on display.


Daniel Negreanu: no flies on him

That's your lot for today, but there'll be a whole lot more to come tomorrow. Goodnight from the Principality.