EPT11 Malta: Connor Drinan leads final day after cruise

It has edged close to 1a.m. on this hunk of rock in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, but the news to be broadcast beyond the rugged cliffs is that the first major final table of the inaugural EPT Malta is set.

A field of 88 entries (68 players; 20 re-entries) has be sliced down to its final eight and when they reconvene tomorrow at 12.30p.m. to play to a winner, this is how they will line up:

Connor Drinan, United States, 893,000
Dani Stern, United States, 827,000
Dzmitry Urbanovich, Poland, 734,000
Piotr Franczak, Poland, 612,000
Sam Greenwood, Canada, 431,000
Daniel Dvoress, Canada, 367,000
Martin Finger, Germany, 358,000
Nick Petrangelo, United States, 179,000

For Drinan, the man at the top of the counts, this was one of those days that poker players dream about. Drinan turned a wheel with pocket fours to win his first notable pot of the day, then took all of Pratyush Buddiga's chips when his middle pair and flush draw turned into two pair.

wrap_connor_drinan_ept11_malta_day2.jpg

He was able to massage a lengthy bubble period to serve his own ends, and eventually sent Sorel Mizzi packing to burst it.

Drinan has never cashed in a major EPT tournament in Europe (he has some PCA success and some side event cashes in his list of $2.4 million winnings) but he leads the way going into the final day of this warm-up tournament. He is the man to beat, and to atone a shocking bad beat in the One Drop this summer, when his aces lost to...aces.

Drinan is one of three Americans on the final - Dani Stern and Nick Petrangelo are the others - and that much is standard. But this is the first time we have seen two Polish players at the same major tournament final, and we were also really close to a debut for anyone from Azerbaijan. Take a bow, in order, Dzmitry Urbanovich and Piotr Franczak, both of whom had huge stacks this time last night and have clung on, and Ramin Hajiyev, who fell in ninth.

wrap_ramin_hajiyev_ept11_malta_day2.jpg

You can get to know a bit about all the players in Nick Wright's guide to the money-makers in Malta.

A reminder of what they are playing for:

1 €572,300
2 €397,800
3 €263,000
4 €205,900
5 €166,000
6 €129,400
7 €102,400
8 €79,800
9 €60,400

wrap_martin_finger_ept11_malta_day2.jpg

Yet another final table for Martin Finger

The best way to see what happened today is to head to the main EPT Malta page and flick through the hand-by-hand information at the top of the page. Plenty of big names fell, including Ole Schemion, Ike Haxton, Davidi Kitai, Stephen Chidwick, Dan Smith, Steve O'Dwyer and Philipp Gruissem.

But it's also worth having a look back at some of the features, including the moment Stephen Bartley thought he was American and told people how to remain the centEr of attention, as well as an examination of how players fill an unscheduled break.

We also wondered why so few players took a re-entry and looked for a full round on one of the tough tables at the start of play.

We'll be back for the action from the final day, so join us again.

Follow all the action from the EPT Malta festival at PokerStars Blog. We have hand-by-hand action from the €25,000 High Roller in the panel at the top of the €25,000 High Roller page. Feature pieces are below. We also have a man on the IPT Malta stop. You might also want to download the EPT App, available on both Android or IOS. Unless you don't.

Howard Swains
@howardswains in European Poker Tour