EPT10 Deauville: Location, location, location: Estate agent Sanioglu leads Katchalov
Day Three on the European Poker Tour is now Bubble Day. At every event since the beginning of Season 9, the most loathed metaphorical globular vacuum in poker bobs into view during the second level of play. But once the bubble bursts, the remaining players are all in the money.
Today we ran the schedule close. There was all of one second remaining on the clock of Level 16 when Stephen Chidwick's kings lost to Tobias Wagner's big slick. And after Chidwick had departed in 96th (with very good grace, it must be said), EPT10 Deauville had passed its first major milestone. The race to the title began in earnest.
Ever since he peered down at a middle-aged paunch on a young man's body a few years ago, the one man you would back to win any race has been the Team PokerStars Pro Eugene Katchalov. And when the going got tough today, Katchalov got running.
He bagged up 1,194,000 chips tonight after one of those brilliant days on the EPT. Katchalov already has WPT and WSOP triumphs on his résumé and is now very, very close to pole position, from 41 remaining tonight. If he wins, he completes his Triple Crown.
One pip ahead is Ekrem Sanioglu (1,300,000), who has seized his chance to get his face known. The 64-year-old estate agent was having a great time of it on the outer table today, and now has the chip lead to boot.
Over the leaders' shoulders are a keen army of competitors. Some are known, most are unknown. This is a tournament with the largest percentage of local players anywhere on the tour, but the likes of Sotiros Koutoupas (1,129,000), Mustapha Amaouche (931,000), J.P. Kelly (544,000), Ludovic Geilich (408,000) and Zimnan Ziyard (339,000) are also challenging. (The latter is the last former champion, but finished today with fewer chips than he started it.)
Not all of our major stories will continue into Day 4. Julien Brecard battled gamely, but departed in 49th. Jamila von Preger added another cash to her growing list, but then fought the Law and the Law won. She fell in 52nd.
Our old friend Jan Heitmann was eliminated before the money, but his Team Pro Alex Kravchenko secured a min-cash.
Tonight is the GPI European Poker Awards and we will have a full report on the Blog tomorrow. In the meantime, follow PokerStars Blog on Twitter to learn the identities of the winners as and when they do.
Keep yourselves entertained in the down time by having a look back at some of our other coverage from today. There was a definite Casino Royale moment as the bubble approached, but the former EPT champion Zimnan Ziyard was taking things one tuna baguette at a time.
The Greek contingent is also going strong in Deauville, with Koutoupas aiming to become the first Hellenic winner. We also met the hilarious Bahram Chobineh, who lost a bet to be here in Deauville.
That's about it for now. Stay tuned to Twitter for all the award news. See you tomorrow.