EPT11 Barcelona: Luck, bluff and good play: Andrei Konopelko leads in Spain

Day 3 on the European Poker Tour is the one where all the moves are made. And when you're looking at a record-setting field, with record-setting numbers of players chasing record-setting money, there are going to be some record-setting moves.

Chronology doesn't do us any favours in attempting to pick through what happened today, so let's just flash to the very end before we back up a bit: Andrei Konopelko is the tournament chip leader heading into tomorrow's Day 4.

The 50-year-old from Minsk, Belarus, who won a $530 satellite to book his ticket here, came into the day with 446,500 chips but managed to survive all the buffeting of five 90-minute levels before emerging at the other end with 1,451,000. He described his ascent in beautifully concise fashion. "Some luck, some good play, some bluff," he said.

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Andrei Konopelko: Leader

Konopelko heads about 105 players remaining in the search for a €1,261,000 first prize, and they will all consider themselves fortunate to have made it this far. The bubble period this afternoon was particularly eccentric -- record-setting, you'd have to say -- featuring no fewer than seven players all in at the same time. What's more, five of them were knocked out.

There are a handful of reasons for these shenanigans. Firstly, a couple of players found enormous hands when their opponents with bigger stacks had even better. Farid Chati was particularly unfortunate in this respect. He flopped the nut flush when Martin Finger flopped a straight flush. Out he went.

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Some textbook bubble mayhem at EPT Barcelona

The second reason was that this is Spain, where nobody likes to hang around in a poker tournament too long. As we discovered earlier, our host nation is still looking to crown its first champion, but it always puts on a pretty swift show. It was, once more, rapido.

Thirdly, however, there was a bit of a bubble sweetener this time around. The kind folk at the Seminole Hard Rock Casino in Hollywood, Florida, had donated a custom guitar, plus a $5,300 tournament buy in for the Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open next week. Whoever went home "empty handed" actually went home with plenty.

The thing is, when all those players went out, it caused a real conundrum for the tournament organisers. Who would get the ticket? Who would get the guitar? And who would get nothing. They sorted it out in appropriate fashion.

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The bubble sweetener

With the bubble burst, of course, the action remained frenetic and some amazing tables developed among the remaining players. Dominik Panka and Mike McDonald, who know each other very well after their epic battle for the PCA title in January, found themselves next to one another on the TV stage again.

Out in the field, Nima Ahrary and Vojtech Ruzicka, two of the three biggest stacks in the room, also found themselves on the same table.

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Vojtech Ruzicka: Started well, ended well

Meanwhile Jan Heitmann, who is enjoying his best EPT run outside of Germany for several years, found himself running over his table thanks to a host of unbelievers facing his five bets. He had aces in an enormous hand and soared up to 700,000. By the end of the day he had peaked at 953,000, which is top ten.

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Great day for Jan Heitmann

Heitmann was the last Team PokerStars Pro in the field tonight, with only Grzegorz "DaWarsaw" Mikielewicz, of Team Online, also bearing the Red Spade. Andre Akkari had clung on with his short stack into the money, but was knocked out in 134th.

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Andre Akkari: Clung on until 134th

The full chip counts, available later tonight, will make interesting reading. There are some superstars still in this one, including the former champions Davidi Kitai, Robin Ylitalo, Mikalai Pobol and the aforementioned Panka and McDonald.

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Davidi Kitai: Still bossing

Here's a selected list of notable counts, but be sure to check back when they are make more complete.

Andrei Konopelko - 1,451,000
Piotr Sowinski - 1,315,000
Davidi Kitai - 1,200,000
Pawel Brzeski - 1,080,000
Martin Finger - 1,038,000
Daniel Dvoress - 1,010,000
Pedro Marques - 973,000
Jan Heitmann - 953,000
Max Senft - 884,000
Alexander Kell - 861,000
John Andress - 792,000
Marko Neumann - 742,000
Vojtech Ruzicka - 722,000
Thomas Hueber - 708,000
Robert Schulz - 695,000
Rumen Nanev - 663,000
Andrey Shatilov - 616,000
Vincent Rubianes - 597,000
Benjamin Lamprecht - 564,000
Anders Lars Dahlin - 535,000
Julian Pauchyrz - 497,000
Mike McDonald - 495,000
Nima Ahrary - 491,000
Ismael Bojang - 439,000
Benjamin Nicholas-Teboul - 429,000
Mark Wagstaff - 413,000
Karin Bruteig - 405,000
Emil Patel - 350,000
Robin Ylitalo - 338,000
Jimmy Guerrero - 336,000
Grzegorz Mikielewicz - 332,000
Mickhail Rudoy - 299,000
Vladimir Novitckii - 295,000
Li Zhang - 279,000
Arne Ruge - 273,000
Mauro Mancin - 256,000
David Urban - 240,000
Andrejs Maklecovs - 222,000
Dominik Panka - 203,000
Boutros Naim - 175,000
Yoni Izhak - 165,000
Mikalai Pobal - 163,000
Knut Hatle - 152,000

Take a look at all the hand-by-hand coverage in the top of the main EPT Barcelona page, and also read and watch until your eyes are sick the following features and videos from today:

Oliver Price's live heater set to continue
Daniel Negreanu's important poker advice
Thor Hansen, the great survivor
The good and bad of being a poker Dad

We'll be back for all the action from noon tomorrow.

Howard Swains
@howardswains in European Poker Tour