EPT12 Barcelona: Denys Shafikov shows method to the madness, leads into final day

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Denys Shafikov: Takes enormous chip lead to final

Denys Shafikov has barely uttered a word at the poker table over the past five days, and has stacked his chips in perfect order, with their coloured marks in a neat, straight line. Yet Peter Eichhardt today labelled him a "lunatic".

Denys Shafikov has a face that suggests he would not say boo to a gosling, let alone its parent, yet he has become the scourge of more than a thousand fully grown men this week, hundreds of miles from his home.

Denys Shafikov is a 36-year-old from Kyiv, Ukraine, and tonight is the soaraway chip leader at the final table of the EPT Barcelona Main Event. That puts him in the box seat to earn close to €1.5 million for his lunacy. Who is really the mad one?

After a peculiar slowdown at the end of last night's play, 36 of the starting 1,694 players remained heading into this record-breaking tournament's penultimate day. But no sooner had the starting klaxon sounded at noon than the dam suddenly broke, sweeping away Team PokerStars Pro's Andre Akkari and Matthias de Meulder among them.

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Stuart McDonald: Among those caught in the riptide

Those two went out in 32nd and 28th, respectively, with names such as Jude Ainsworth, Daniel Dvoress, Shyam Srinivasan, Scott Margereson and Pascal LeFrancois perishing too. We also lost Oleksii Khoroshenin, Shafikov's countryman, and the only man from Ukraine to previously win a title on the EPT. But there was no such thing as nationalistic soft play. Far from it. Shafikov put particular hurt on Khoreshenin and eventually knocked him out.

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Oleksii Khoreshenin: Former champ in a world of hurt

After all the shouting and banging abated, we finished proceedings at around 12.40am and with nine still left. It got nitty towards the end again, and there were plenty of short stacks doubling up. The following players are now preparing to return for tomorrow's last day:

Denys Shafikov, Ukraine, 17,515,000
Steven Warburton, United Kingdom, 7,180,000
Andreas Samuelsson, Sweden, 7,005,000
Frederik Jensen, Denmark, 5,580,000
John Juanda, Indonesia, 4,040,000
Rainer Kempe, Germany, 3,775,000
Mario Sanchez, Spain, 2,885,000
Victor Bogdanov, Russia, 1,415,000
Amir Touma, Lebanon, 1,180,000

You will be able to follow that blow-by-blow on PokerStars Blog, or with our more animated cousins EPT Live. Action begins in real life at noon, but you'll see it an hour later, with hole cards revealed.

You can learn all you wanted to know, and less, about the finalists on our profiles page. The short version is that this table brings together finalists from nine different countries and includes players from across the poker spectrum.

There are established superstars, such as John Juanda, and a previous champion, Frederik Jensen. There are cash game pros and online heroes, and a man planning to burn down a house if he wins. The stacks look huge when written out of context, but in comparison with the blinds, they relatively shallow. Only two of them has a stack greater than average. We are not guaranteed an all-night epic (but it's not out of the question too).

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John Juanda: the best-known finalist

Recap today's action in the panel at the top of the Main Event page. It includes a miraculous recovery from two big blinds from Rainer Kempe. And you can also read all about the €10,000 High Roller on the High Roller page.

Everything from the side events is on the side events page. And a reminder about EPT Live. That's on the EPT Live page.

You can also begin plotting your own bid for EPT glory by downloading the PokerStars client and having a crack. Follow this EPT event via the EPT app. There you will get all the latest news, chip counts and payouts. You can download it on Android or IOS.

Announcements over, now goodnight.


Howard Swains
@howardswains in European Poker Tour