EPT11 Grand Final: Just the way Johnny Lodden likes it, leads into penultimate day

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Brilliant Johnny Lodden boomed to the lead

There are two days to go until we learn who is the new champion of the PokerStars and Monte-Carlo®Casino EPT Grand Final Main Event, but the only thing we can say for certain right now is that this one is still wide open.

After a Day 3 that began with 34 players, including bracelet winners, whizz-kids, Team PokerStars Pros and journeymen representing at least five continents, the complexion of the field remains exactly the same, even if every contingent has shrunk a little. Only 15 players survived, and it was all done by 7pm.

Regardless of starting chip stack, everybody knows that Johnny Lodden is afraid neither of booming nor busting. A chaotic day suited him down to the ground. But Lodden likes Monaco and, having finished third here two seasons ago, he is the chip leader going into the penultimate day.

Lodden spent his entire Day 4 on the EPT Live feature table, joined at one time or another by Jason Mercier, Mustapha Kanit, Ludovic Geilich, Stephen Chidwick, Scott Clements, Connor Drinan and Ole Schemion. But only the latter of that little list of superstars was still with Lodden when the bags came out tonight. There's no busting Schemion.

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Lodden and Ole Schemion, TV stars

At that point, Lodden was shoving 2,293,000 chips into it, a small portion of which came directly from Clements' stack. Lodden finished off "BigRiskky" amid a whirlwind of late eliminations: Dario Sammartino and the aforementioned Drinan hit the rail simultaneously at the end.

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Scott Clements: Reluctant to leave the TV stage

Adrian Mateos did that damage, helped by Anton Astapau and Lyndon Basha. That trio is otherwise described as the World Series of Poker Europe champion, a Belarusian high roller and a man who is intending to propose to his girlfriend in Monaco but finds the poker continually getting in the way.

Below is the line-up for tomorrow's play, during which they will intend to get down to at most eight players, and probably fewer. There's still a very significant selection of absolute heroes in that list, but this one could still go either way.

Day 5 players in Monaco

Johnny Lodden, Norway, 2,293,000
Markus Ross, Germany, 1,815,000
Adrian Mateos, Spain, 1,635,000
Koichi Nozaki, Japan, 1,582,000
Hady El Asmar, Lebanon, 1,530,000
Muhyedine Fares, Senegal, 1,280,000
Ole Schemion, Germany, 1,178,000
Lyndon Basha, United Kingdom, 1,070,000
Dmitry Ivanov, Russia, 994,000
Anton Astapau, Belarus, 896,000
Romain Paon, France, 782,000
Christopher Frank, Germany, 645,000
Jose Carlos Garcia, Poland, 523,000
Juan Martin Pastor, Argentina, 450,000
Tom Hall, United Kingdom, 249,000

This is the first time that we have had players from Japan and Senegal this deep in an EPT Main Event, so the neutrals should get behind them. It's about time for an Asian and African poker boom, and their success could secure that.

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Germany's Markus Ross and Naoya Kihara, of Japan, share a joke

Spare a thought for all those who hit the rail. They all took a significant payday -- look at the panel at the top of the Main Event page to see how much -- but they all might have had so much more, and will know it.

Join us tomorrow for that race down to the final. Will Lodden boom again or will he bust? Toss a coin and keep it spinning all night.

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 also starts today, 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.