EPT12 Dublin: Patrick Clarke, final home hope, bags most of last 16
The European Poker Tour has a habit of setting records then breaking records, setting and breaking, setting and breaking, rinse and repeat. But through all of its 12 seasons, there has never been a level of deep-stack play like the one that kicked off Day 4 of this EPT Dublin Main Event.
In the space of 90 minutes, the overnight field of 45 withered to 27. That's 18 eliminations (one every five minutes), from a field of players that did not appear especially short-stacked.
Jaime Staples of Team PokerStars Online was eliminated within the first 15 minutes of play. But remarkably, he had laddered up into 43rd despite not even playing an orbit. It was that kind of day.
Despite all the frantic early action, we still finished tonight with 16 players, the exact number anticipated. The pace did slow up a bit towards the end of the day, but we only played four levels, meaning an early night for all.
Stack-sizes yo-yoed crazily throughout the day and the chip-lead was not established until its very final hand. In that, Patrick Clarke won a chunk from Christopher Kruk and vaulted close to 3 million.
You can review all the hand-by-hand action on the live updates page, including that dramatic last hand.
Clarke is the former Irish Open champion and has also made a final table on the UKIPT, so he knows how to handle the pressure. He'll need that knowledge because, as the last Irishman in this event, he carries the Emerald Isle's expectations on his shoulders.
The final hand moved Clarke ahead of Gille Bernies, who seemed like he was going to return to the top of the counts after leading at the end of Day 1. That in itself bucked a trend for early chip leaders, who are usually out by now.
Clarke and Bernies find some highly proficient campaigners behind them. Iliodoros Kamatakis, Dzmitry Urbanovich and Kuljinder Sidhu complete the top five. The full counts are over there on the chip-count page.
The early carnage accounted for two of three former champions: Anton Wigg lost a flip to leave in 31st, while Dominik Panka, despite an early double up, couldn't get his pocket tens to beat Clarke's kings.
Luca Pagano also bade a sorry farewell today, eliminated in 17th. The Team PokerStars Pro secured his 21st career EPT cash here this week--his third in Dublin--and his progress reminded us all of those early seasons of the EPT.
But the throwback continued with the sight of Pagano sitting in anguish by the side of the table during a break after losing almost all of his stack to Adrian Mateos. Pagano turned a straight after Mateos had flopped two pair. Mateos filled up on the river.
Pagano, who was out soon after, plays a lot less than he used to. But the sting of beats like that clearly still affects him. I wouldn't be surprised if this deep run persuades him back to the tables far more often.
As for Mateos, he endures. The Spanish player will go to Monaco in a few weeks time to defend his Grand Final crown, and he does so in fine form. He confessed he wasn't enjoying his time on a table with the volatile talents of Frank Williams, Bernies and Alex Goulder, but Mateos stuck it out and returns tomorrow with 651,000.
Tomorrow we play to a final of six. It genuinely is anyone's game.