EPT10 Barcelona: Hats off to Joni Jouhkimainen who leads High Rollers to final table

As usual the High Roller event provided an enticing undercard as it played on in the wings of the Main Event. As play stopped tonight with nine remaining, Joni Jouhkimainen held the chip lead. But it had been a struggle to obtain it. Others had similar intentions.

The Finnish pro, in a blue sequined trilby (a la Kurko and Sormunen), looked like he'd temporarily left a bachelorette party back at the bar. But he ensured he'd return to it in the best possible position. As the day ticked to a close he came out best in a three-way-pot that eliminated Abi Khaitan in tenth place while severely denting the stack of David Benefield.

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Chip leader Joni Jouhkimainen

Prior to Jouhkimainen both Jean-Noel Thorel and Richard Yong had battled for the late lead, the latter leading when the money bubble burst.

Thorel spent much of the day alongside Yong. Both had woken this morning with the intention of wearing bright orange; Thorel a plain t-shirt, Yong a patterned shell suit jacket with a print - a jungle scene as if viewed through the flames of a raging chemical fire.

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Richard Yong

Seated together they looked like a pair of Dutch football fans who had missed their flight. But their stacks spoke of a great day. Thorel was helped towards his in a big hand against Ihar Solka, setting him up well. Yong meanwhile earned the bulk of his stack when he found kings against Marcin Wydrowski's jacks.

Here's how they'll line up.

Seat 1. Jonathan Duhamel, Team PokerStars Pro - 842,000
Seat 2. Thomas Muhlocker - 1,224,000
Seat 3. Jean-Noel Thorel - 1,260,000
Seat 4. Richard Yong - 1,208,000
Seat 5. Joni Jouhkimainen - 1,945,000
Seat 6. Ole Schemion - 530,000
Seat 7. Raoul Refos - 462,000
Seat 8. David Benefield - 229,000
Seat 9. Daniel Negreanu, Team PokerStars Pro - 1,225,000

As far as debuts go Gerard Pique couldn't have asked for much more. Neither could those in the rail and in the field, who were simply delighted to see him.

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Gerard Pique

The Barcelona star, and Spanish international footballer, held the chip lead early on but would depart in 19th place for his first live poker cash (€21,150). A World Cup winner and now this. He even endeared himself to many by fist pumping when he made the money.

There's an item in the small print of the Season 10 manual that says Ole Schemion should at some point lead any event he enters before cashing. Actually there isn't, but there should be.

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Ole Schemion

Schemion got up to his usual tricks. Just as he had starred heavily in the Super High Roller, and cashed in the Main Event, he's now set for a big cash in the high roller. That also applies to November Niner Benefield, who has managed the same treble.

Perhaps the most familiar face of those remaining belongs to Daniel Negreanu.

The Team PokerStars Pro rather publicly departed this very event yesterday. But after taking a couple of hours to calm down, after a ruling regarding the first card rule, he make up with floor staff and took his seat (quite literally actually), and rejoined the field in good spirits.

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Back for more, Daniel Negreanu

It was an inspired choice as he's set to make back the additional bullet whatever happens tomorrow. He has. The only question now is whether there is anything stopping him going all the way. Actually yes, that quite spectacular line up we listed earlier.

Jonathan Duhamel will also return, so too Raoul Refos and Thomas Muhlocker. It should prove a potent mix.

We lost various big names on the way to the final table.

Benny Spindler was the first to cash, followed by, among others, Philipp Gruissem, Dan Smith, Toby Lewis and Kevin Vandersmissen. The full list, as well as details of all the hand for hand detail from the day, can be found on our live coverage page.

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Magic Fountain, Barcelona

The Main Event may rightly get top billing tomorrow (full coverage here), but the High Rollers will provide a compelling distraction with a first prize of €390,700 and a Luxury Slyde watch, from the Official Watch Sponsor for EPT Season 10.

They kick off again at 12 noon. See you then.

Stephen Bartley is a PokerStars Blog reporter.

Stephen Bartley
@StephenBartley in High Roller