EPT12 Malta: Jaroslaw Sikora leads. Jaka and Greenwood in pursuit
We're into the interesting bit. Sure, those early stages can produce some important moments, flagging up the early signs of a player in form. But Day 3 is where things are turned up a notch, for there is money involved now, and that's ball game.
But not everyone was entitled to a share when play began today. Some 131 players returned, but only 95 would have something to show for their efforts by the end of the day. But it felt like a long day, except perhaps for Jaroslaw Sikora, who leads with a stack of 1.65 million tonight.
Sikora has been among the leaders since Day 1, and spent today in the same way, with his arms either side of an ever expanding stack. Behind him is Alexander Ivarsson who can claim an almost identical story.
Then things get familiar. Faraz Jaka is in third place, while Sam Greenwood is in fourth place. Both, along with Niall Farrell in fifth place, are within sight of the lead, and will be the principal challengers tomorrow.
Elsewhere there was a new record for cashes on the EPT, set by Team Pro Johnny Lodden, who bags up 399,000 and is a guaranteed his 21st cash finish tonight.
Here are the full chip counts at the end of Day 3:
|Jaroslaw Sikora||Poland||PokerStars player||1,457,000|
|Alexander Ivarsson||Sweden||PokerStars player||1,306,000|
|Faraz Jaka||USA||PokerStars qualifier||1,200,000|
|Niall Farrell||UK||PokerStars player||1,160,000|
|Sam Greenwood||Canada||PokerStars player||1,160,000|
|Alen Bilic||Bosnia and Herzegovina||PokerStars player||745,000|
|Apostolos Bechrakis||Greece||PokerStars qualifier||720,000|
|Mike McDonald||Canada||PokerStars qualifier||689,000|
|Kitty Kuo||China||PokerStars qualifier||574,000|
|Bjorn Geissert||Germany||PokerStrars player||526,000|
|Rainer Kempe||Germany||PokerStars qualifier||490,000|
|Shannon Shorr||USA||PokerStars player||407,000|
|Johnny Lodden||Norway||Team PokerStars Pro||399,000|
|Ferdinand Le Pichon||France||364,000|
|Ivan Luca||Argentina||PokerStars qualifier||349,000|
|Jens Lakemeier||Germany||PokerStars qualifier||336,000|
|Ezequiel Kleinman||Argentina||PokerStars qualifier||301,000|
|Erik Scheidt||Germany||PokerStars player||283,000|
|Mikko Turtiainen||Finland||PokerStars qualifier||282,000|
|Daniel Dvoress||Canada||PokerStars qualifier||278,000|
|Marcin Wydrowski||Poland||PokerStars qualifier||257,000|
|Nabil Mohamed Abdien Cardoso||Spain||255,000|
|Anton Bertilsson||Sweden||PokerStars qualifier||216,000|
|Kevin Lee Sharp||Canada||PokerStars qualifier||176,000|
|Bryn Kenney||USA||PokerStars qualifier||172,000|
|Enrico Camosci||Italy||PokerStars player||162,000|
|Thomas Muehloecker||Austria||PokerStars qualifier||135,000|
|Paul Berende||Netherlands||PokerStars qualifier||108,000|
But the day was dominated by the bubble, one which lasted longer than expected and included some short stack heroics.
As Nick Wright put it earlier, the bubble brings with it various degrees of relief:
"They're delighted to now have locked up a cash because... they've essentially achieved their goal. The mid-stacks are happy because now they can actually start playing some poker... and the big stacks are happy because well, they're a big stack."
While Christopher Adler is the unhappiest man in Malta tonight, going out on the bubble, the happiest is surely Andrew Atkinson, out in 95th place after having survived the bubble with less than a small blind.
The relief on his face will be one of the lasting images of the event, the scene of those at his table congratulating him, will prove the lasting meme. It was hard not to feel he'd earned every cent of his €9,320 min cash (shattering his previous best cash by nearly €9,000). Not bad given he qualified on PokerStars for €32.40.
Then the not so cheerful fallers made their way to the payout desk, among them Matthias de Meulder, Joni Jouhkimainen, Jeff Rossiter, Isaac Haxton, Govert Metaal, Christoph Vogelsang, Steve O'Dwyer and Dan Smith.
While you can fill the rest of your evening with side event action, it leaves 40 players to return tomorrow for Day 4, when they'll play down to 16 and move a step closer to the final table on Saturday. Coverage will continue here on the PokerStars Blog, where you'll find live updates and live coverage every step of the way from 12pm.
Join us then.
Ready to sign up for PokerStars? Click here to get an account.
Stephen Bartley is a staff writer for the PokerStars Blog.