EPT London High Roller: Kurganov takes lead into final day

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There were times today when we wondered whether the EPT London High Roller would ever come to life. For long periods the tempo was slow and repetitive, with players seeming to be keener on chatting than getting down to business, like some out of control classroom needing iron discipline and a rigid dress code.

But when it comes to high roller events you sometimes have to allow the natural order of things to develop, allowing time for the talking to turn to action and the blinds to turn action into eliminations.

Looking back over the period of play prior to the dinner break, chip leader Igor Kurganov might well recall that as being the decisive spell.

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Igor Kurganov

With 22 players remaining, and the only partly-welcomed dinner break 45 minutes away, the field was reduced to just 12 in short order. Suddenly leads were developed, stacks that had been nursed were now in bloom, and the way made clear for a final eight to emerge.

But Kurganov's lead tonight is more a leasehold rather than a permanent arrangement, guaranteed for a period of 14 hours and no more, with a final eight each capable of the type of classy performance that crowds high roller champions tomorrow.

Here's how they'll line-up.

Seat 1 - Adrian Bussman, 518,000
Seat 2 - Igor Kurganov, 854,000
Seat 3 - Rob Akery, 622,000
Seat 4 - Sam Trickett, 354,000
Seat 5 - Joel Nordkvist, 365,000
Seat 6 - Philipp Gruissem, 311,000
Seat 7 - Olivier Busquet, 471,000
Seat 8 - Michael Tureneic, 268,000

As well as for Kurganov, superlatives were also in order for the account of Rob Akery's progress. That period before dinner was crucial to Akery who had led before a hand against Kurganov depleted his stack. But by the close of play it had been revived, standing second to the leader.

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Rob Akery

Olivier Busquet recovered well from a bad hand against Tureniec when he could have been excused allowing the wheels to fall off his campaign. So successful was his rebuilding effort that when play stopped he suggested they play on, failing, however, to find another eager proponent.

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Olivier Busquet

He returns, as does Sam Trickett, the English pro who has had a breakout 12 months. Joel Nordkvist and Adrian Bussman make for a trio of Swedish finalists.

Play resumed with 30 players at 12 noon today in the shadow of the television lights, following the action in the main event.

Daniel Smith was first out. Former EPT winner Mike McDonald stretched his short stack into a couple of hours of play before busting. Jonathan Duhamel was also eliminated midway through the day, as was fellow Team PokerStars Pro and former world champion Joe Hachem.

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Joe Hachem

Sorel Mizzi was massaged for most of his time at the tables, but was unable to massage his stack into anything more than elimination.

Eugene Katchalov, who is more dextrous than most with a short stack, did well to build before the foundations were whipped away from under him, sending him out before the break.

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Eugene Katchalov

Sam Stein, the leader coming into the day, was shown the door by Busquet four places off the final table, ahead of Philip Collins, Byron Kaverman and James Bord, whose departure brought an end to the day.

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James Bord

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Our thanks to photographer Mickey May for all the images from today. The final table begins tomorrow at 12 noon, once more running alongside the bright lights of the main event; coverage of both events can be found right here on the PokerStars Blog.

Until then, it's goodnight form London.

Stephen Bartley
@StephenBartley in High Roller