EPT12 Prague: Luuk Gieles leads Super High Roller final table as Anthony Zinno bubbles
For the second time in as many Super High Roller events a relatively unknown player leads the way going into the final day. For Michael Egan in Barcelona, read Luuk Gieles in Prague.
We say relative unknown because if you'd been following our coverage yesterday you'd know that Gieles held the chip lead at the end of Day 1 as well. But facts are facts and whilst Gieles is a titan in the online arena, where he plays the highest stakes sit and gos and is a Supernova Elite, he simply doesn't have the live poker profile of many of the opponents he'll face at the final table tomorrow.
The same chip leader at the end of each day's play might suggest that not a lot happened over the eight and a bit levels it took to reduce the field from 39 to the final eight. Nonsense of course, and although Gieles leads the final eight it could just as easily have been Igor Kurganov or Dzmitry Urbanovich holding that distinction tonight.
As is his wont, Urbanovich bought in for the first time just before the start of Day 2 and quickly set about doing what he does best, amassing a stack. With 11 left he led the way but he lost a huge pot to Gieles - where the Dutchman got two streets of value with aces - dropping back as Gieles surged to the front.
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The EPT Player of the Year had assumed the mantle of chip leader from Kurganov who had been imperious throughout the day. He had that much sought after knack of winning the vast majority of the big pots he played. Eliminations of Mustapha Kanit (set vs top pair) and Jean-Noel Thorel (flopped nut flush vs pair and flush draw) helped put him into a healthy position heading into tomorrow's final table.
When the prize pool was announced shortly after play began there was a sharp intake of breath in the press room as we realised this bubble would be particularly nasty. It was decreed that eight players would receive some return on their buy-in(s) meaning that the official final table bubble would also be the money bubble, one costing that player at least €107,550.
So double trouble for one poor soul, but given that the unfortunate ninth place finisher was Anthony Zinno it was actually triple trouble. The American is locked in a battle with, principally, Byron Kaverman for the GPI 2015 Player of the Year. The latter bust in 20th place today and Zinno knew that a min-cash would take him to the top of the tree.
When Ole Schemion exited in tenth and the final nine convened around one table he was the shortest stack. No problem, plenty of players hang on from here. When he got a shove through over the top of a Steve O'Dwyer open he suddenly had almost 17 big blinds, a workable stack. But it was not to be. His exit had saw him run a good hand - ace-jack - into a slightly better one, the ace-queen of Urbanovich. His elimination in ninth meant everyone else, of course, was guaranteed a pay day. They go steadily upwards all the way to €806,650.
There's far more than mere money to play for at the final table tomorrow though. John Juanda is chasing the same season EPT Main Event and Super High Roller double. Should Kurganov win he'll add a Super High Roller title to the €25,000 High Roller title he won at the EPT8 Grand Final and if it's Steve O'Dwyer hosting the trophy aloft he'll be doing it in the knowledge that he's the first player ever to win two EPT Super High Roller titles.
They're just some of the story lines that should make for a fascinating final table. We'll be back to cover that from 12:30 local time. That, coincidentally, is the same time as the mammoth Eureka Prague Main Event final table gets under way. You can find out who's made it to the final eight of that one on our dedicated Eureka Poker Tour page.
If you missed any of today's Super High Roller coverage you can catch up here and you can feast your eyes on all the side event results right here. All the schedule information is on the EPT App, which is available on both Android or IOS.