EPT11 Malta: Valentin Messina leads French duo into final at Malta

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Valentin Messina: Leading the final six in Malta

The weather in Malta is changeable. It's an island, it's in the middle of the Mediterranean and weather is weather. But when, last night, we predicted a storm on Day 5 of the EPT Malta main event, we could say it with utmost certainty. This has been one of those events.

Within the first level today, nine players went broke. Another five were eliminated before the next break. The chip lead started with Antonin Duda, passed to Fedor Holz, Hossein Ensan, Valentin Messina and Jean Montury in a tumultuous couple of hours, while Robin Ylitalo bluffed his way out of contention.

By the time the day ended after five levels of relentless swinging, we were left with six players, the chip lead with Messina and a man named Dominik Panka looking for a second EPT title. At various times this week, this has been a tournament dominated by Spanish, then Polish and now there are two Frenchman at the top of the charts.

Their names are Messina and Montury and there's only a whisker between them. Messina's 7,805,000 just has Montury's 7,185,000 out-pipped, but their closest challenger doesn't even have 6 million.

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Jean Montury: Frenchman No 2

Panka is the biggest name among the finalists. He is one of the biggest stars in the game at the moment. But even he was not immune to the buffeting. He was all in at least three times and needed to river an ace to beat Holz's pocket kings when the WCOOP champion was at his peak. That hand started a decline for Holz that ended when he went out in ninth, bubbling the official final table.

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Dominik Panka: He runs rather well

Stefan Schillhabel was also down and out at least twice, but managed to crack aces with J♦T♦ and then turned his flopped set of sixes into a full house to out-run Duda's flopped straight. That run makes him the closest challenger to the French duo.

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Stefan Schillhabel: Back from the dead multiple times

The last day of this festival will begin with the following players still in with a chance of winning €810,400 and an exclusive SLYE watch. None others could cling to the wreckage and will have to do their timekeeping in some other fashion.

Seat 1 - Stefan Schillhabel, Germany, 5,515,000
Seat 2 - Javier Gomez Zapatero, Spain, 3,800,000
Seat 3 - Valentin Messina, France, 7,805,000
Seat 4 - Hossein Ensan, Germany, 865,000
Seat 5 - Dominik Panka, Poland, 1,680,000
Seat 6 - Jean Montury, France, 7,185,000

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Who's happy to be at the final table? Hossein Ensan is

The official final table on the EPT is eight, but Remi Wyrzykiewicz was eliminated in eighth and Duda, who suffered the most when all the others went on their late charge, went out in seventh.

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Final table players. Standing (l-r): Javier Gomez Zapatero, Antonin Duda, Dominik Panka, Jean Montury, Stefan Schillhabel. Sitting (l-r): Valentin Messina, Remi Wyrzykiew, Hossein Ensan
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Find out a lot more about them all in our profiles.

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Antonin Duda: Enough!

The best way to orientate yourself ahead of the final day tomorrow is to flick through all the hand-for-hand coverage in the panel at the top of the EPT Malta Main Event page. That will tell you how it all went down today. You can also see the payouts to date, as well as what they can win tomorrow.

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Javier Gomez Zapatero: Led at the end of Day 3, still involved now

After we finish off level 29 (there are about 30 minutes left on the clock) they will be playing blinds of 50,000-100,000 (ante: 10,000) tomorrow, so there is no reason to think anybody is going to slow down.

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Tomorrow's arena of battle

Howard Swains
@howardswains in European Poker Tour