EPT12 Dublin: Ivan Banic takes online form to live arena, leads star-studded field
EPT12 Dublin is shaping up to be a cracker, both a throwback to the old days when the European Poker Tour last visited these shores, and a celebration of all that is brilliant about the contemporary game.
As we head into Day 3 with about 130 of the original 605 still involved, there are superstars scattered throughout this field.
There are eight former EPT champions still with chips -- Liv Boeree, Steve O'Dwyer, Mike McDonald, David Vamplew, Anton Wigg, Dominik Panka, Adrian Mateos and Ognyan Dimov -- as well as other leading lights whose absence of a title still baffles.
That group includes Andrew Chen, Jude Ainsworth, Christoph Vogelsang and Tim Adams, among others, plus Luca Pagano, the Team PokerStars Pro who made a final table in this city in Season 1 of the tour.
Furthermore, the brave new world is also in the house: Jaime "Twitch" Staples, Chris "moorman1" Moorman, and Dzmitry "four-titles-one-stop" Urbanovich also have plenty of chips to be getting on with.
Tonight's outright leader fits most comfortably into that final category. Ivan Banic has no live tournament pedigree to speak of (a couple of side event places at EPT Prague last December is all) but Banic plays as "Banicivan" on PokerStars and has close to $1 million in recorded tournament cashes.
He pushed 381,200 chips into his bag tonight, which is marginally ahead of Alex Dileface (359,500), Tudor Purice (323,700), Jiachen Gong (323,200), Mikhail Petrov (322,600), Mikael Jean (320,000) and Gilles Bernies (314,700).
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The full chip counts of the remaining players is on the chip-count page.
Today was not for the faint-hearted. We began with 359 players and they flew out the door at a blistering pace. Theo Jorgensen, Jeff Rossiter, Jason Mercier, Dermot Blain, Aaron Gustavson, Sebastian Pauli, George Danzer, Charlie Carrel, Felipe Ramos, Jannick Wrang, Bryn Kenney and Dominik Nitsche were among those who couldn't last the distance.
Three other former champions also very nearly did, but Jake Cody, Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier and Mickey Petersen all perished in the final level.
The former got it in with kings against Raiden Kan's queens and Kan flopped a queen. ElkY lost a flip with tens to Staples' big slick. Petersen was flushed away by McDonald. That trio will continue to look for that second title.
Oh yes, and one more thing. Day 2, as is customary, was the day on which we learned how much they were all actually playing for. When all the bean-counting was complete, the tournament staff offered up €561,900 to the winner, from a total prize pool of €2,934,250.
The bubble will burst when the 88th player leaves the room. Player No 87 will get the first min-cash of €9,100.
That player's identity will likely be discovered during the second or third level of play tomorrow. It'll be an even bigger day as we play deep into the money. Join us from noon.