EPT13 Malta: Mats Karlsson crushes again and leads final six

NEIL2763_Mats_Karlsson _EPT13MAL_Neil Stoddart.jpg

Mats Karlsson: Glimpsing the top prize in Malta

EPT Malta has reached its final table, and following a tradition long established during the European Poker Tour's 13 years, tomorrow we will crown another first-time champion.

Dominik Panka's elimination in ninth place today--one place short of the official final table--left us guaranteed another fresh champion. But also true to the spirit of this tour, the winner is certain to have played some impeccable poker after the past six days, richly deserving their €355,700 first prize.

As was the case this time yesterday, the 59-year-old Swedish player Mats Karlsson is in the box seat. He earned his chip-lead last night by piling the hurt on Ole Schemion, and he completed the job today. Although Schemion managed one early double-up of his short stack (the smallest of 14 who returned overnight), Karlsson lay in wait to outdraw him when Schemion was hoping to get back into contention.

Karlsson's job from that moment on was simple: sit back behind a mountain of chips as all the others decided among themselves who would join him at European poker's top table. And after three-and-a-bit levels of jousting, here's what they decided:

NameCountryChipsBig Blinds
Mats KarlssonSweden3,795,00076
Dmitry YurasovRussia2,845,00057
Peter OckendenUK2,300,00046
Elie SaadLebanon2,065,00041
Tomas MacnamaraUK1,835,00037
Aliaksei BoikaBelarus960,00019

It seems remarkable to seasoned EPT watchers that this will be Dmitry Yurasov's first Main Event final table. He has been in the top 10 in EPT High Roller events on five times, and has earned the vast majority of his near $850,000 live earnings on the EPT. He's a fixture.


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The fact that he is in second place heading into the final is only because he actually ran pretty badly today. He doubled up Elie Saad twice and lost another big pot to Peter Ockenden. Lucky for him he is so good to chip up almost relentlessly through the rest of the day.

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Dmitry Yurasov: A true poker star

All the names of the players knocked out today are on the payouts page, and described in our blow-by-blow account below. It's worth picking out two in particular.

The aforementioned Panka lost a big pot with A♦J♣ to Bastian Dohler's A♥K♥, before busting with sixes to kings. That's standard, but Panka's talents are not. The former PCA champion has already made a final table here in Malta, on Season 12, but was denied a return only by the narrowest of margins.

NEIL2904_Dominik_Panka_EPT13MAL_Neil Stoddart.jpg

Dominik Panka: Ninth, following first and third

Then let's pick out Dohler, who went out in seventh today. Again, his was a standard elimination, pocket sevens losing in a three-way pre-flop coup. But his ROI, having qualified in a €10 Spin & Go on PokerStars, is extraordinary. He won €56,510 for seventh.

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Bastian Dohler: Spin & Go-ed all the way to seventh

So that leaves us with a mouthwatering final in store for tomorrow, and be sure to join us from 2pm to see how it plays out. Action in the real world starts at 1pm, but we'll report with a delay to be alongside EPT Live, which will have cards up coverage.

Join us then.

6:10pm: Fireworks from the off - down to 6
Level 26 - Blinds 25,000/50,000 (5,000 ante)

Mats Karlsson opened for 110,000 which Dmitry Yurasov called from the cut off, before Saad moved all in on the button for 925,000.

Karlsson took a while to fold but Yurasov snap called. He had J♦J♣ while Seed showed A♥K♠.

Thought that things might be over though were dealt with on the flop, landing as it did 5♥8♦A♠. The 7♥ turn and 9♣ river card did nothing to change that and Seed doubled.

That wasn't the end of things though, with a three way all in coming in the hand immediately afterwards.

Tomas Macnamara moved all in for 660,000 on the button. Next to him was Bastian Dohler, who had been quiet by virtue of his short stack. He called all-in before Aliaksei Boika called them both.

Boika: A♦K♣
Dohler: 7♠7♥
Macnamara: J♣8♣

And ace or a king would send two players out, leaving just five players to return tomorrow. But it was Macnamara who came out best. The board came 5♠J♠8♥2♦K♠. That kept Macnamara alive, and into the final, but send Dohler, the €10 Spin & Go winner, out in tenth place.

We have our final six. Mats Karlsson leads. Chip counts and a report on the day coming up shortly. - SB

6pm: Into level 26
Level 26 - Blinds 25,000/50,000 (5,000 ante)

Play resumes after the break. Play ends when we lose one more player.

5:30pm: The magnificent seven

Heading into Level 26, where blinds are 25,000/50,000 (5,000 ante), the stacks are as follows. Yes, three players now have fewer than 20 big blinds, so it's getting a little nervy as they try to get to a final table of six. Mats Karlsson, however, is looking very pretty indeed.

NameCountryChipsBig Blinds
Mats KarlssonSweden4,060,00081
Dmitry YurasovRussia3,785,00076
Peter OckendenUK2,360,00047
Aliaksei BoikaBelarus1,525,00031
Elie SaadLebanon960,00019
Tomas MacnamaraUK750,00015
Bastian DöhlerGermany545,00011

mats_karlsson_ept13_malta_day5_lead.jpg

Mats Karlsson: He's done nothing but count stacks all day

5:30pm: Xixiang Luo coolered in eighth
Level 25 - Blinds 20,000/40,000 (5,000 ante)

On the very last hand before the tournament break, and as other players drifted away from the table for a pee, a smoke or a brief lie down, Xixiang Luo and Peter Ockenden got involved in hand that would define either of their tournaments.

Luo opened the cutoff to 90,000 and Ockenden three bet the button to 250,000. The blinds got out the way, and it came back to Luo who four-bet jammed for 985,000. Ockenden snap-called, even though his stack was only marginally larger than Luo's.

Luo: A♠K♥
Ockenden: A♦A♣

So there it is. A cooler. And although there was hope for Luo when the first four cards ran 9♥J♦8♠K♦, the river was the Q♠ and Luo was toast.

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Xixiang Luo, left, learns that Peter Ockenden has him covered

Ockenden's win puts him third on the leader board. Full chip counts coming up as the players now do get their 20-minute break. --HS

5:25pm: Ockenden with some small-blind trickery
Level 25 - Blinds 20,000/40,000 (5,000 ante)

Peter Ockenden is mixing it up from the small blind. After action folded to him, he limped. Then Dmitry Yurasov raised his big blind and Ockenden then moved all-in. Yurasov folded. -- Hs

5:20pm: Karlsson ahead again
Level 25 - Blinds 20,000/40,000 (5,000 ante)

And the lead swings back to Mats Karlsson after a hand against Xixiang Luo.

Elie Saad opened for 85,000 which Karlsson called from the small blind and Luo from the big. On the 7♥J♦7♠ flop Karlsson checked to Luo who bet 105,000, which was enough to force out Saad. Karlsson called though for the 9♥ turn. Both checked. Then on the 3♥ river Karlsson bet 300,000. Luo tanked for a while but let it go.

Karlsson up to more than 4 million now, while Luo drops to 1 million. - SB

5:10pm: Yurasov into the lead
Level 25 - Blinds 20,000/40,000 (5,000 ante)

Another upward nudge for Yurasov, winning a smallish pot against Peter Ockenden with a 215,000 bet on a board of 8♣T♠5♦6♦. He's up to 3.85 million. - SB

5:05pm: Did he have it? Did he want it?
Level 25 - Blinds 20,000/40,000 (5,000 ante)

Xixiang Luo opened to 90,000 from early position and action folded around to Bastian Dohler in the small blind. Dohler, with only 445,000 behind, moved all-in.

Luo pondered for quite a long time, with Dominik Panka, on comms duty, describing how this is quite a tough spot. Dohler will know he doesn't have fold equity, so is representing a bigger hand here than many players might expect.

Luo eventually folded, maintaining his stack. But did Dohler have it? Did he want a call? We will never know. -- HS

5:00pm: Very little between Yurasov and Karlsson
Level 25 - Blinds 20,000/40,000 (5,000 ante)

Dmitry Yurasov closes the gap between himself and chip leader Karlsson after a pot against Xixiang Luo.

Luo opened to 90,000 from the hijack which Yurasov called from the button for a Q♠2♦2♥ flop. That was checked for the K♣ turn. Lu bet 80,000 which Yurasov called for the K♥ river card. Luo checked this time before Yurasov came in with a big bet of 390,000. That forced Luo to fold.

Yurasov now up to 3.6 million, with Karlsson on 3.8 million. Luo meanwhile drops to 1.1 million. - SB

4:55pm: Ockenden up
Level 25 - Blinds 20,000/40,000 (5,000 ante)

Here's another example of Dmitry Yurasov trying his best to get this day done, but coming up marginally short. The player to profit was Peter Ockenden but Yurasov did not give him a full double up.

Tomas Macnamara opened to 90,000 from UTG+1 and Ockenden called from the small blind, persuading Yurasov in from the big. The three of them saw the flop of 3♣A♠5♠ and checked it through.

The 2♠ came on the turn and Ockenden fired 215,000. Only Yurasov called. Then the 7♦ came on the river and Ockenden jammed for 635,000.

In the EPT Live commentary booth, Dominik Panka said that he only has a flush in his range here, and Yurasov clearly thought so too. He folded.

It's still a big boost for Ockenden, who moves his stack to 1.4 million now. -- HS

4:45pm: Who's winning?
Level 25 - Blinds 20,000/40,000 (5,000 ante)

Latest stacks:

NameCountryChipsBig Blinds
Mats KarlssonSweden3,915,00098
Dmitry YurasovRussia3,415,00085
Aliaksei BoikaBelarus1,645,00041
Xixiang LuoChina1,475,00037
Elie SaadLebanon1,205,00030
Peter OckendenUK995,00025
Tomas MacnamaraUK960,00024
Bastian DöhlerGermany375,0009

4:30pm: Double for Saad
Level 25 - Blinds 20,000/40,000 (5,000 ante)

Dmitry Yurasov has done more than anybody in this tournament to usher it to a hasty conclusion, but he hasn't always managed to complete the job on some stubborn opponents.

Here's a case in point. Yurasov opened to 90,000 from the button and Saad shoved the small blind, for 455,000 total. Tomas Macnamara folded his big blind and Yurasov called from his 3.5 million stack.

Saad was ahead with his A♦J♠ to Yurasov's A♣5♣ and there was nothing frightening for the better hand through flop, turn and river. -- HS

4:20pm: More for Karlsson
Level 25 - Blinds 20,000/40,000 (5,000 ante)

Another pot for Karlsson, albeit a small one, which takes more from Elie Saad. After a called pre-flop bet the action was checked on a board of 4♦2♦Q♥6♠K♦. Karlsson showed 4♠5♠ to win it. - SB

4:15pm: Luo over Boika
Level 25 - Blinds 20,000/40,000 (5,000 ante)

Aliaksei Boika has definitely opened up as the tournament has gone on, and he just played a three-bet pot against Xixiang Luo. This one didn't go in his favour, however.

Boika opened the hijack seat, making it 90,000 to play. Luo three-bet the button to 255,000, with only another 750,000 behind and Boika called.

After a flop of 3♦8♦T♠, Boika check-folded when Luo continued for 225,000. -- HS

4:10pm: Macnamara gives to the Karlsson campaign
Level 25 - Blinds 20,000/40,000 (5,000 ante)

Mats Karlsson edges back towards the chip lead after a pot against Tomas Macnamara.

Macnamara opened from the cut off for 90,000 which Karlsson called form the big blind. On the 7♥2♦7♦ flop Karlsson checked to Macnamara who bet 90,000. Karlsson called for the 4♦ which both checked for the T♦ on the turn. This time Karlsson bet 225,000. Macnamara folded. Karlsson up to nearly 3.6 million. - SB

4:00pm: Shove, fold
Level 25 - Blinds 20,000/40,000 (5,000 ante)

Bastian Dohler was all-in on the very next hand after Dominik Panka's elimination, pushing from early position. No one called. He'll add an 11th and a 12th to his 10 big blind stack. -- HS

3:55pm: Panka ends hopes of first three time EPT winner
Level 25 - Blinds 20,000/40,000 (5,000 ante)

Alas there will be no three time EPT winner before the tour evolves into the PokerStars Championship. Dominik Panka, a PCA champion, was that last hope, and while admittedly he had to win here and in Prague, those hopes ended in ninth place today.

After Dmitry Yurasov opened for 90,000 Panka shoved for 850,000. Yurasov called and flipped over K♥K♦. Panka was behind with 6♠6♣.

The board ran J♦K♣5♣A♥9♥

A great performance from Panka given that he had been down to four big blinds earlier in the tournament. We're down to eight players, all of whom could still be EPT double winners.

Note: Actually this is not correct. The only two time winner Victoria Coren-Mitchell could still play and win the EPT Prague Main Event. - SB

3:40pm: Chip counts at the start of level 25
Level 25 - Blinds 20,000/40,000 (5,000 ante)

NameCountryChipsBig Blinds
Mats KarlssonSweden3,385,00085
Dmitry YurasovRussia2,920,00073
Aliaksei BoikaBelarus2,300,00058
Tomas MacnamaraUK1,240,00031
Peter OckendenUK1,195,00030
Xixiang LuoChina1,020,00026
Dominik PankaPoland860,00022
Elie SaadLebanon690,00017
Bastian DöhlerGermany375,0009

3:30pm: Karlsson ends level with big hand
Level 24 - Blinds 15,000/30,000 (5,000 ante)

Elie Saad opened for 65,000 under the gun plus one. Only Karlsson in the big blind paid to see a flop which landed Q♠7♠9♦. Karlsson checked to Saad who bet 85,000 before Karlsson check raised to 275,000. Saad called.

The turn came 7♥. No checking from Karlsson this time. He bet 325,000 now, which Saad called for the 8♠ river, a card that met the needs of flushes, straights, and a lot more.

Karlsson bet another 250,000 and Saad called. But he was beaten, Karlsson turning over 7♣8♦ for a full house. He's the clear chi pleader now with 3.36 million. - SB

3:20pm: Ockenden thinks twice
Level 24 - Blinds 15,000/30,000 (5,000 ante)

Peter Ockenden raised to 65,000 from the cutoff but Dmitry Yurasov pinched the positional advantage when he three-bet from the button, making it 190,000 to play.

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Peter Ockenden

Action came back to Ockenden who cut out the chips for a four-bet, but then had a change of heart and folded. -- HS

3:15pm: Current chip counts
Level 24 - Blinds 15,000/30,000 (5,000 ante)

PlayerCountryChip count
Dmitry YurasovRussia2790000
Mats KarlssonMalta2275000
Aliaksei BoikaBelarus2245000
Elie SaadLebanon1645000
Tomas MacnamaraUK1310000
Peter OckendenUK1285000
Xixiang LuoChina1045000
Dominik PankaPoland945000
Bastian DöhlerGermany445000

3:10pm: Saad's early-position raise prevails
Level 24 - Blinds 15,000/30,000 (5,000 ante)

Elie Saad opened from under the gun and although Aliaksei Boika and Dmitry Yurasov were disbelieving enough to call pre-flop, from the hijack and big blind, respectively, they folded to a continuation bet on the A♣9♠2♠ flop. -- HS

3:05pm: Boika emerging
Level 24 - Blinds 15,000/30,000 (5,000 ante)

Aliaksei Boika flew under the radar for long periods of this tournament. There's nothing flamboyant about his clothing and he says nothing. However, I'm pretty convinced now that he's quite a good player.

He just took another small pot from Dmitry Yurasov. Yurasov raised to 70,000 from under the gun and Boika called on the button, and Xixiang Luo called in big blind.

Those three took a flop of 6♠9♦6♥ and Luo checked. Yurasov bet 80,000 and Boika called.

They both checked the K♦ turn and the 7♣ river and Boika's J♠J♦ beat Yurasov's A♥J♥. -- HS

3:05pm: Pot to Ockenden
Level 24 - Blinds 15,000/30,000 (5,000 ante)

Peter Ockenden picks up a pot worth 500,000. On a flop of 2♣T♦3♦ Karlsson began what would be a two check calls. First the 70,000 on the flop, then the 110,000 on the T♠ turn. On the river card J♣ both checked, Ockenden turning over 6♠6♦ to win the hand. - SB

3pm: Unofficial final table seat draw
Level 24 - Blinds 15,000/30,000 (5,000 ante)

Name CountryStatus Chips
Seat 1Aliaksei BoikaBelarusPokerStars player2,220,000
Seat 2Mats KarlssonSweden 2,565,000
Seat 3Xixiang LuoChinaPokerStars player1,160,000
Seat 4Peter OckendenUKPokerStars qualifier920,000
Seat 5Dmitry YurasovRussiaPokerStars qualifier2,890,000
Seat 6Elie SaadLebanon 1,515,000
Seat 7Tomas MacnamaraUK 1,250,000
Seat 8Bastian DöhlerGermanyPokerStars qualifier475,000
Seat 9Dominik PankaPoland 990,000

2:55pm: Play resumes
Level 24 - Blinds 15,000/30,000 (5,000 ante)

Play restarts in the Main Event. Chip counts on the way.

2:50pm: The road to deal country

We're at the last table of the Main Event, with the final table tomorrow when we reach six players. That's when we'll be entering deal country. Talking of which, here's what the pros are thinking when that tricky calculation comes about.

2:45pm: Cartarius busts, down to nine
Level 24 - Blinds 15,000/30,000 (5,000 ante)

With 41 minutes left on the clock we're down to nine after the elimination of Louis Cartarius. He opened for 60,000 which Dominik Panka called from the button. Aliaksei Boika then raised to 190,000 from the small blind prompting Cartarius to move all in. Boika called immediately.

Cartarius 7♠7♣
Boika A♦A♠

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Louis Cartarius: The last hand he saw

The flop came 2♦8♥6♠ and then the turn 9♥ which gave Cartarius ten outs, with straight draw possibilities. But the 9♠ on the river changed nothing. He's out in tenth place while Boika now leads the players already at the feature table, with 2.2 million. There will be bigger stacks coming over when they reconvene. - SB

2:40pm: Ockenden flops best in weird one against Macnamara
Level 24 - Blinds 15,000/30,000 (5,000 ante)

After doubling up in a win-from-behind coup against Xixiang Luo, Tomas Macnamara has just lost a chunk of his stack in a lose-from-ahead confrontation with Peter Ockenden. The pot had an extra level of weirdness after an accidental pre-flop call required a tournament supervisor's ruling.

Macnamara wasn't paying full attention as the dealer sent the cards spinning to the table's five players. He pushed 30,000 chips over the line, thinking it was his turn to pay the big blind. It wasn't. He was under the gun. But seeing as the cards were already out, this went as a call. Macnamara accepted the ruling with a nod.

"Imagine that was an angle," a member of the television crew whispered in the ear of another. It clearly wasn't, but it would have been the kind of thing an unscrupulous player might try to pull of with a big hand.

After Dmitry Yurasov and Mats Karlsson folded, Peter Ockenden shoved from the legitimate small blind and after Luo folded, Macnamara now called.

Macnamara: T♦T♣
Ockenden: A♦2♠

(Just to put your conspiratorial minds at rest, it definitely wasn't an angle-shoot from Macnamara, despite this call and a legitimate hand. It was clearly a genuine mistake.)

Anyway, Ockenden flopped best despite being behind. The board ran A♣6♣5♠3♠4♣ and doubled Ockenden's 440,000 stack.

Macnamara is left with 720,000.

--HS

2:35pm: A Boika check raise
Level 24 - Blinds 15,000/30,000 (5,000 ante)

A check raise from Boika on a flop of K♣5♠Q♠. Dohler had opened pre-flop which Boika called. Then the check raise to 155,000. That got the fold from Dohler. - SB

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Dominik Panka and Boika, with dealer acting as mirror

2:30pm: Macnamara gets lucky to double
Level 24 - Blinds 15,000/30,000 (5,000 ante)

Sit back down, Tomas Macnamara your time here is not done. The British player was out of this seat after he got his stack in dominated. A lovely (for him) little four on the turn gave him a full double up via neighbour Xixiang Luo.

Luo played his hand trickily, and it worked a wonder. No man can control that deck though. Well, not the above board ones on the EPT, anyway. The action folded to him in the small blind and he completed. Macnamara put in a big raise from the big blind and then shrugged before calling off his 725,000 stack when Luo shoved.

Luo: A♦K♠
Macnamara: A♠4♥

The board ran 3♣6♥Q♣4♦8♣ and Luo dropped to around 1.15 million. --MC

2:20pm: Shove from Cartarius
Level 23 - Blinds 12,000/24,000 (4,000 ante)

Action folded to Louis Cartarius and he shipped from the small blind, putting Dominik Panka to the test in the big blind. Panka thought better of it and folded. -- HS

2:15pm: A few flops
Level 23 - Blinds 12,000/24,000 (4,000 ante)

Few hands are reaching anywhere near a showdown right now on the outer table. Peter Ockenden has moved in once but found no interest.

One hand got to a turn card though. Xixiang Luo opened for 65,000 under the gun which Dmitry Yurasov called from the button. Ockenden was in the big blind and decided to call. They saw a flop.

K♣4♦7♦

That was checked for the 8♦ turn card.

Then things fizzled out. The action was checked to Yurasov who is not the type to let such a situation go un-raised. He bet 110,000. Ockenden, very much the short stack, folded and while Luo took a moment to check his cards again, he folded as well. - SB

2:10pm: Boika bullies Panka
Level 24 - Blinds 15,000/30,000 (5,000 ante)

Dominik Panka has only 25 big blinds left after three-bet folding to aggression from Aliaksei Boika. Louis Cartarius opened to 60,000 and Panka three-bet to 175,000 from the small blind. Boika then shipped from the big blind, for 1.045 million, and Cartarius folded.

Panka had a decision for his tournament life, but folded. That leaves him with only 765,000. -- HS

aliaksei_boika_ept14_malta_day4.jpg

Aliaksei Boika, pictured yesterday

1:50pm: Dohler doubles
Level 24 - Blinds 15,000/30,000 (5,000 ante)

The Spin & Go winner Bastian Dohler just kept his hopes alive with a double up through Dominik Panka. They got it in pre-flop, with Dohler's A♥K♥ dominant against Panka's A♦J♣, but Panka out-flopped him when the J♠ appeared.

However the K♦ popped out on the turn, to swing the pendulum back to Dohler and Panka couldn't come from behind again.

Dohler doubled to about 850,000, which is very close to Panka's stack too. -- HS

1:40pm: Counts!
Level 23 - Blinds 12,000/24,000 (4,000 ante)

The latest chip counts are over there on the chip-count page. Or, indeed, here:

NameCountryStatusChips
Mats KarlssonSweden 2,710,000
Dmitry YurasovRussiaPokerStars qualifier2,495,000
Xixiang LuoChinaPokerStars player2,060,000
Elie SaadLebanon 1,783,000
Dominik PankaPoland 1,322,000
Tomas MacnamaraUK 920,000
Aliaksei BoikaBelarusPokerStars player903,000
Louis CartariusGermanyPokerStars player744,000
Peter OckendenUKPokerStars qualifier600,000
Bastian DöhlerGermanyPokerStars qualifier446,000

mats_karlsson_ept13_malta_day5.jpg

Mats Karlsson: Up top

1:30pm: Saad happy
Level 23 - Blinds 12,000/24,000 (4,000 ante)

Elie Saad is sitting pretty on the feature table now, especially after three recent events. The first was the departure of Mats Karlsson, balanced over to the outer table following the two eliminations there, the second was a big pot he just won from Bastian Dohler. The third was another big pot he won from Dominik Panka.

In the first hand, Saad open-raised from the small blind and Dohler defended in the big. The flop came 4♦9♣T♦ and Saad continued, betting 55,000. Dohler wanted to represent something big. He raised to 130,000. But Saad called.

elie_saad_ept13_malta_day5.jpg

Elie Saad: Building

Then the 6♣ came on the turn and Saad checked. Dohler bet 150,000 and Saad called.

The K♦ came on the river and after Saad checked again, Dohler bet 200,000, which was a third of Saad's remaining stack (and more than a third of his).

Saad took a while but called and was immediately congratulated. "Nice call," Dohler said.

Dohler showed Q♠7♠ for zilch. Saad's A♠T♠ was second pair, but was good.

On the second hand, Panka opened from under the gun and Saad three-bet to 130,000.

That earned them a flop of J♠8♣J♦, which both players checked. They also checked the T♥ turn, bringing the K♣ on the river. Panka bet 135,000 at it, and Saad called.

Panka was caught with his hands in the till. He was forced to show 7♥6♥ and Saad had called with T♣9♥ and his pair of tens was again good.

He has 1.73 million chips, which is the most on the feature table. -- HS

1:20pm: Thanks for coming Italy
Level 23 - Blinds 12,000/24,000 (4,000 ante)

Italian hopes of finding another EPT champion have been dashed as both remaining players went one after the other on back-to-back hands.

Daniele Colautti was in the big blind and three-bet to 150,000 after a 55,000 cutoff raise from Dmitry Yurasov. The latter four-bet all-in and Coulautti wasted little time in calling off for 870,000.

Colautti: 9♣9♥
Yurasov: 6♣6♠

The Italian was in great shape to swap places with Yurasov but poker can be a cruel game, as proven when the board ran Q♥J♥6♦5♠T♦ to make the Russian a set. He moved on up to 2.7 million, which may well be good for the chip lead.

daniele_colautti_ept13_malta_day5.jpg

Daniel Colautti

"Unlucky pal," Peter Ockenden said to Colautti before he turned to Yurasov and added, "You're running well, aren't you mate?"

The very next hand, Colautti was joined on the rail by countryman Marco Bartolini. He was down to 310,000 when he moved all-in on the button with T♠T♥. Xixiang Luo seems to take a similar amount of time on every decision he makes, so we'll forgive him for waiting before calling the shove with Q♠Q♦.

Bartolini looked shocked when he saw the cooler, and that emotion transformed into disappointment after the board ran 9♣8♣9♦8♥9♥. Luo moved up to around 2 million. --MC

NEIL2846_Marco_Bartolini_EPT13MAL_Neil Stoddart.jpg

Marco Bartolini: Heading home

1:15pm: A showdown!
Level 23 - Blinds 12,000/24,000 (4,000 ante)

Not a particularly interesting hand, but it went to showdown, so here's the history anyway.

Louis Cartarius opened to 50,000 and Aliaksei Boika called in the big blind. The flop fell 2♦J♥9♦ and Boika check-called Cartarius's bet of 55,000.

They then checked the 5♦ turn and A♣ river. And that meant we'd see the hands. Boika's 7♦9♠ was inferior to Cartarius's T♠T♥. -- HS

1:10pm: No show?
Level 23 - Blinds 12,000/24,000 (4,000 ante)

Tomas Macnamara opened for 50,000, a bet that was called by Peter Ockenden and then Xixiang Luo in the big blind. They all checked the T♠6♥J♣ flop for a 5♥ turn.

Luo then bet 100,000, which Macnamara called, before Ockenden backed out. With the 7♥ on the river Luo bet another 165,000. Macnamara looked again and took his time with his decision. Eventually he called.

Luo mucked instantly, leaving the pot to Macnamara. He's up to around 1.1 million, while Luo drops slightly to 1.6 million. - SB

1:05pm: No takers
Level 23 - Blinds 12,000/24,000 (4,000 ante)

The last ten minutes included all-in moves from Marco Bartolini, Tomas Macnamara and Peter Ockenden, all of which went unanswered. -- SB

1pm: Wealth gap widening
Level 23 - Blinds 12,000/24,000 (4,000 ante)

There's a very clear distinction developing on the outer table: those who have chips and the rest. The rich are feeding off the poor and, for the most part, the wealth gap is widening.

Both Xixiang Luo and Dmitry Yurasov are edging closer to the two million mark, benefiting from the control they have over the table. Even when they tangle with each other, they split the spoils.

xixiang_luo_ept13_malta_day5.jpg

Xixiang Luo: Among the rich

Yurasov opened to 55,000 from the hijack and Luo defended his big blind. The flop came 2♥7♦4♣ and Yurasov check-called before the 5♥ turn and 8♠ river were checked through.

Luo opened A♣7♠ and Yurasov smiled as he showed A♠7♣ for a chop. I may have been imagining it but they both seemed happy that the status quo was maintained and, by showing down those hands, both proved that they weren't messing with the other one. --MC

12:55pm: A flop!
Level 23 - Blinds 12,000/24,000 (4,000 ante)

Mats Karlsson opened to 60,000 from under the gun. Aliaksei Boika called from the big blind and that finally required the dealer to earn his crust.

He put the J♥4♦2♦ out there. Boika checked. Karlsson bet 80,000, and that was that. -- HS

12:50pm: Flop drought on feature table
Level 23 - Blinds 12,000/24,000 (4,000 ante)

Flops are scarce on the feature table, where Dominik Panka is three-betting a lot and pushing opponents off hands, and Louis Cartarius also doing the same to Aliaksei Boika.

Boika is undeterred, however, and opened three hands consecutively. The first got through, the second brought the three-bet from Cartarius, and then the third earned a three-bet from Mars Karlsson, who made it 135,000 to play.

Cartarius brought the aggression back at him, shoving for 942,000. Karlsson folded.

None of these hands required a flop. -- HS

12:47pm: Macnamara defends well
Level 23 - Blinds 12,000/24,000 (4,000 ante)

Daniele Colautti opened on the button for 50,000. Tomas Macnamara was in the big blind and called to see a 4♥7♦9♦ flop. Macnamara checked to Colautti who bet another 45,000. Macnamara raised, about 400,000 more, getting an immediate fold from Colautti. - SB

12:45pm: Blind on blind
Level 23 - Blinds 12,000/24,000 (4,000 ante)

With the action folded to him on the small blind Dmitry Yurasov bet 65,000 and then looked over at Peter Ockenden in the big blind. He called and the pair of them saw a flop.

Q♥T♠6♣

Yurasov bet again, 70,000 this time, which Ockenden called for a 9♦ turn, which was checked both ways. On the T♣ river Yurasov bet another 80,000. Ockenden paid up, but mucked his hand when Yurasov showed K♥9♠. - SB

12:40pm: Short stack spin-ups
Level 23 - Blinds 12,000/24,000 (4,000 ante)

Dominik Panka has hogged the headlines after his comeback from four big blinds yesterday, but it's also worth mentioning that Xixiang Luo is rivalling him for the title of poker's Lazarus. He has been all-in and called, for a tiny stack, at least twice this week but is now up to more than 1.6 million, which is third of the 12 remaining. -- HS

12:35pm: Tough spot for Macnamara
Level 23 - Blinds 12,000/24,000 (4,000 ante)

The EPT Main Event has redraws when 24, 16 and nine players remain. It helps to be consistent in the latter stages of tournaments and it meant we entered today with the same seat draw we left you with yesterday.

The good part of that for the returning players is that it should be easier to get back into how the table plays. The bad part of that is if you're fully aware of how the table plays, and you know your position sucks.

tomas_macnamara_ept13_malta_day5.jpg

Tomas Macnamara: Between a rock and a hard place

Tomas Macnamara came back with a healthy 943,000 but he's already dropped down to 592,000 after being pushed around by the two big stacks either side of him.

When he tried three-betting a button open from Xixiang Luo, he was snap four-bet shoved on by the player from China. The next hand he tried a button open but had to admit defeat when Dmitry Yurasov three-bet him from the small blind.

At some point, he'll have to make a stand or he'll be swallowed up like a piece of spaghetti from Lady and the Tramp. --MC

12:25pm: Four bet alert on feature table
Level 23 - Blinds 12,000/24,000 (4,000 ante)

They're playing poker today over on the feature table, with Elie Saad busting out the first four bet of the day. It worked as well. They often do.

Saad opened the cutoff, raising to 55,000. Louis Cartarius three-bet to 160,000 from the small blind, but then Saad responded with a four-bet to 380,000.

Cartarius folded, with Saad boosting his stack above 1 million chips.

Mats Karlsson is the clear leader still, especially after busting Schemion. He has more than 2.5 million. -- HS

12:15pm: Pollak busts in 14th place
Level 23 - Blinds 12,000/24,000 (4,000 ante)

Benjamin Pollak became the first elimination of the day after two quick hands against Xixiang Luo.

In the first the chip were in with Pollak showing 8♠8♣ and Luo, who was covered by Pollak, with A♠K♠. The board came Q♦A♣5♠2♦4♣

Luo was delighted, but politely restricted by decorum. So while he celebrated by leaping up from his chair slightly, it was all done in total silence - like watching high stakes tournament coverage with the sound down.

xixiang_luo_celebrates.jpg

Benjamin Pollak: The sadness in his eyes

This created a world of trouble for Pollak, left with only 28,000, having paid off Luo's all-in of 569,000. So it was hardly surprising when his chips went in on the next hand, behind an opening raise of 50,000 from Daniele Colautti. Next to act was Luo, still stacking his chips, or Pollak's chips, who raised to 150,000, forcing Colautti to fold.

Pollak 7♠K♦
Luo A♥T♦

There was a pause before the flop as the pot was calculated. Pollak, in what would be his last act in the Main Event, wished to know exactly how much he would win. Content with the answer he smiled. "OK, let's go."

All things considered the 6♠5♣8♠ flop wasn't bad for Pollak, but he needed more help on the turn and river. They came 5♥ and 2♣, which were no help at all. Again Luo celebrated, but silently. Pollak departed, also silently.

This played out momentarily before Schemion's elimination, although both got the same prize: €25,030. - SB

12:10pm: Karlsson chastens Schemion; Schemion sent to High Roller
Level 23 - Blinds 12,000/24,000 (4,000 ante)

Well that didn't last long. Shortly after finding that early double up, Ole Schemion got his chip in again as a big favourite this time. His A♠K♦ was massive against Mats Karlsson's K♠T♦.

But the flop of 3♦Q♠J♥ gave Karlsson lots of outs and although the 3♥ on the turn was not one of them, the A♥ on the river sent Schemion out in 13th. He still has time to buy into the €10K High Roller, though. Small mercies.

ole_schemion_departs_ept13_malta_day5.jpg

Schemion's comeback hits the skids

It was 13th because Ben Pollak was knocked out just before that from the outer table. Details of that elimination to come. -- HS

12:05pm: Early double for Ole Schemion
Level 23 - Blinds 12,000/24,000 (4,000 ante)

Ole Schemion is back cooking again, finding a double up very early on Day 5. He got his 230,000 stack in pre-flop from the small blind, jamming after a raise from Aliaksei Boika.

Boika's 9♥9♣ were good against Schemion's A♣4♠ all the way through flop and turn--those four cards were T♥4♣T♣8♣--but the 2♣ filled Schemion's flush and brought him back into the game. -- HS

ole_shemion_doubles_ept13_malta_day5.jpg

Ole Schemion doubles back into the game

12:05pm: As you were
Level 23 - Blinds 12,000/24,000 (4,000 ante)

Away they go again. Same seats as yesterday. Same players. Only the blinds are different. Action is under way.


11am: Hello folks...

...and welcome back to Malta for the penultimate day of the penultimate EPT festival...ever!

That's right, with only EPT Prague still to come under the branding of the European Poker Tour, we're entering the endgame of this most vaunted tournament series. But every day is going to be one to savour from now on, including this one.

We return to the €5,300 Main Event in Malta with 14 players remaining and only six seats reserved for the final day's play tomorrow. So we'll need to sacrifice eight men on poker's bloody altar over the next several hours. Blades ready...

Ole Schemion has the biggest reputation, but the shortest stack. Dominik Panka, third in chips, is the only remaining former champion, and he has also been to one Malta final table already. He's likely the favourite at this stage of proceedings, even if Sweden's Mats Karlsson is the chip leader.

dominik_panka_look_up_ept13_malta.jpg

Two-time Panka?

Here's how they line up today, and stick with us until it's done.

Table 1

SeatPlayerCountryChips
1Daniele ColauttiItaly697,000
2Benjamin PollakFrance605,000
3Xixiang LuoChina572,000
4Tomas MacnamaraUnited Kingdom943,000
5Dmitry YurasovRussia1,709,000
6Peter OckendenNetherlands1,059,000
7Marco BartoliniItaly550,000
Table 2
SeatPlayerCountryChips
1Bastian DohlerGermany1,033,000
2Louis CartariusGermany879,000
3Dominik PankaPoland1,411,000
4Aliaksei BoikaBelarus1,195,000
5Mats KarlssonSweden2,033,000
6Ole SchemionGermany214000
7Elie SaadLebanon1,089,000

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Take a look at the official website of the EPT, with tournament schedule, news, results and accommodation details for EPT13 Malta and the rest of the season.

Also all the schedule information is on the EPT App, which is available on both Android or IOS.

PokerStars Blog reporting team on the EPT13 Malta Main Event: Stephen Bartley and Howard Swains. Photography by Neil Stoddart. Follow the PokerStars Blog on Twitter:@PokerStarsBlog