EPT11 Grand Final: El Asmar leads, but Lodden, Schemion, Mateos close in final six
We have reached the final six at the PokerStars and Monte-Carlo®Casino EPT Grand Final and there can be very few observers unhappy with this line-up.
Perhaps the 558 players who have already fallen can have a legitimate gripe that they are not among them, but any neutrals can only be delighted with the final day we have in store.
There's Johnny Lodden, the dynamic Team PokerStars Pro from Norway. There's Ole Schemion, the German phenom and EPT Player of the Year. There's also Adrian Mateos, aiming for a unique World Series/EPT double, which would also mean a first EPT title for Spain.
Each of the remaining three players, representing Poland, Lebanon and Senegal (via France), has the chance to make a name for himself on the grandest stage. And two of them: Muhyedine Fares and Hady El Asmar are on the very top of the pile.
There's the best part of €1.1 million available for the winner. It's not going to come easily to anyone.
The final six was set when Fares knocked out Markus Ross at around 8.45pm tonight. Fearing the kind of all-night epic that blighted last season's Grand Final, we played on beyond the usual eight that usually heads into the last day. It meant that Koichi Nozaki had time to be the first Japanese to make an EPT final table, but won't be back for the final day. He went out in eighth.
Here's how they will start tomorrow:
Hady El Asmar, Lebanon, 3,970,000
Muhyedine Fares, Senegal/France, 3,955,000
Ole Schemion, Germany, 3,530,000
Johnny Lodden, Norway, Team PokerStars Pro, 2,250,000
Adrian Mateos, Spain, 1,770,000
Jose Carlos Garcia, Poland, 1,435,000
They will be in Level 27, with blinds of 25,000-50,000 and a 5,000 ante. There is still plenty of play left in this one.
The best way to review what happened today is to look at all the hand-by-hand action in the panel at the top of the Main Event page. But if you were cutting a TV show and had only ten minutes' broadcast time, the short version of the day would focus on three hands.
On the very first deal on the feature table, Lodden and Schemion went to war. Nozaki started it, raising from under the gun to 42,000 and drawing both the superstars to the flop. They called from button and big blind, respectively.
The flop came Q♦8♣5♥ and Nozaki's bet shook neither of his opponents. It meant three of them saw the T♣ turn. Schemion took the betting lead, Nozaki called, but Lodden tossed in a big raise. Hearts entered throats after that, however, when Schemion announced that he was all in.
We had know there was the potential for fireworks between those two giants, but we didn't know it would escalate so quickly. We also didn't particularly want either of them to go broke as they were integral components of our dream final table, but after Nozaki folded, Lodden called. He had flopped a set of eights, after all. However Schemion had turned a straight.
It shot the German into an early lead and set a tone for a turbulent day. Lodden, like only Johnny Lodden can, re-built his stack almost immediately, but the fireworks persisted elsewhere.
Out on the secondary feature table, the kind of hand occurred that would have many people claiming this game was rigged. Juan Martin Pastor (who had made the final table at the PCA) got aces, Christopher Frank had kings and Adrian Mateos had queens.
Only one of them is still alive in this event, and it's neither Pastor nor Frank. They waited until the turn for the queen to appear, but Mateos knocked out the other two and set sail for the final.
On the hand immediately following this ludicrous coup (someone also claimed he folded jacks), the third tournament-defining pot of the day played out. It wasn't quite so dramatic in terms of the cards -- it's just that Hady El Asmar flopped a set of threes and found Lyndon Basha bluff-shoving his ace-king in front -- but it meant that our qualifier from Lebanon shot out to the front of the field.
El Asmar is a recreational player, expecting little from this trip to Monaco. But when he knocked out Basha, he was the first man through three million in chips and is, as a result, our final day leader.
Play will resume at 1pm tomorrow, but there's a one-hour security delay for the EPT Live cards up coverage. So join us from 2pm.
Follow all the action from the €10,000 Main Event on the Main Event page. Also watch on EPT Live. The €25,000 High Roller is into its second day, over on the High Roller page. It's also about time you downloaded the EPT app. There you will get all the latest news, chip counts and payouts. You can download it on Android or IOS.
Correction: Owing to an administrative error, an earlier version of this report incorrectly stated the chip leader.