EPT11 Malta: Does the first exit loosen things up?

No one wants to bust first at a final table, of that fact we can be sure. That point leads on to a second statement one often said as fact but with no real basis other than a hunch. That being that the first exit at the final table makes the remaining players loosen up. But it is fact or fiction? The PokerStars Blog decided to investigate knowing full well that this sample size of one couldn't prove or disprove anything but would be a fun test nonetheless.

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The elite eight

Of course to ascertain if the first exit loosens play up we need to observe what happened before it took place. In the case of this final table it only took 25 minutes for the first exit to occur but there was still some notable action before that point.

ICM considerations are always a factor at a final table, especially when there's a clear short stack. That role today was being played by Nick Petrangelo, his stack of 179,000 exactly half of Martin Finger's who was in seventh spot of the remaining eight players, whilst Daniel Dvoress and Sam Greenwood were also in the lower half of the chip counts with sub 30 big blind stacks.
There was no point in Petrangelo waiting around and indeed he shoved all-in from the small blind on the second hand of play, Connor Drinan showed 8♠2♠ when he folded and then Petrangelo repeated the trick from the button on the very next hand. Those two shoves added almost 50% to his stack.

The other significant action before the first exit saw Dzmitry Urbanovich defend his big blind against Dani Stern's under-the-gun+1 open and flop one pair, turn another and check/call two streets to win a pot that gave him the chip lead. Then came the exit...

It was about as standard as they come, Martin Finger opened with A♦K♣, Urbanovich three-bet with pocket tens, Finger shoved for around 336,000 (21 big blinds) and Urbanovich snap called. "I'm not hanging around," said Finger as the cards were shown. The over cards failed to connect and Finger shook hands with all seven of the other players before leaving.


Finger first out

That all meant that as seven handed play began the start of day stacks were mostly intact apart from Urbanovich had gained a bunch, Stern had lost some and Petrangelo was not as short as he was. The rough chip counts when seven handed play began were as below:

Seat one: Piotr Franczak, Poland, 580,000
Seat two: Dani Stern, United States, 690,000
Seat three: Sam Greenwood, Canada, 380,000
Seat four: Daniel Dvoress, Canada, 337,000
Seat five: Nick Petrangelo, United States, 237,000
Seat six: Connor Drinan, United States, 893,000
Seat eight: Dzmitry Urbanovich, Poland, 1,300,000

Hand one: Button on Sam Greenwood

Fireworks from the off! Piotr Franczak raised to 36,000 from the hijack and Nick Petrangelo had enough of a hand to call from the big blind. On the 3♦9♠T♥ flop Franczak continued for 42,000 only for Petrangelo to move all in. A count was requested - the shove was for 191,000 - and Franczak released his hand. Pot to Petrangelo.

Interestingly during this hand both Dani Stern and Sam Greenwood got up from the table, Stern to get some water and Greenwood just to stretch. This was the first time anyone had got up from the table since the start, coincidence perhaps?

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Petrangelo - shove happy

Hand two: Button on Daniel Dvoress

To create more space Connor Drinan, who was in the big blind, moved his chips round towards the spot where Martin Finger had been and then did a brief stretch. The action by this point was on Sam Greenwood and the Canadian counted his stack before announcing he was all-in. No one gave him action and he picked up the blinds and antes. Two hands, two all-ins!

Hand three: Button on Nick Petrangelo

Another hand and another all-in! Daniel Dvoress opened to 36,000 from the cut-off and Nick Petrangelo asked that dreaded question. "How much did you start with?" To which Dvoress replied. "About three hundred."

"I'm all-in," said Petrangelo and one by one everyone else folded, Petrangelo counted his chips down as the next hand began and he had climbed to around 375,000 so more than double his start of day count.

Hand four: Button on Connor Drinan

Sound the controversy klaxon! Always protect your cards, a lesson Piotr Franczak will no doubt heed after this incident. He was in the one seat and the big blind, but was busy on his phone so his cards were halfway across the betting line as the hand began. Dani Stern and Sam Greenwood folded from seats two and three respectively and the dealer collected all six cards by mistake, not that anyone noticed immediately.

Action then passed to Connor Drinan, he raised to 35,000 and it wasn't until action was on Franczak that he realised his cards were gone. "You must protect your cards at all times," said a member of floor staff to Franczak. "It happens," said Stern to Franczak and other players chimed in that it was the correct, if annoying ruling in this situation. "They can't fish your hand out the muck," added Daniel Dvoress.The controversy died down and Drinan said to Franczak: "If it matters it was probably a good thing. You made a good fold whether you did it yourself or not."

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Dude, where's my cards?

Hand five: Button on Dzmitry Urbanovich

After the excitement of the first four hands this was a bit of a damp squib, although we did get to see a flop. Dzmitry Urbanovich and Dani Stern reprised their rivalry with Urbanovich opening to 35,000 from the button and Stern calling out of the big blind.

The Q♦7♠5♣ flop was checked through but a delayed c-bet of 37,000 from Urbanovich on the 4♥ turn was enough to earn him the pot.

Hand six: Button on Piotr Franczak

Another flop! This time Connor Drinan was the pre-flop aggressor, making it 33,000 to play from the hijack and Sam Greenwood defended from the big blind. A 40,000 c-bet from Drinan on the 3♣4♠2♣ flop was enough to get the job done.

Hand seven: Button on Dani Stern
Action folded all the way to Sam Greenwood in the small blind and he moved all-in. Daniel Dvoress took a brief look at his cards before slinging them into the muck.


Four all-ins, two flops and a mucked hand controversy, the second orbit of play here in Malta was certainly a lot livelier than the first. Case closed then?

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Seven handed play in the high roller

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 can also download the EPT App, available on both Android or IOS.

Nick Wright
@PokerStars in European Poker Tour