EPT9 Barcelona: Smith leads Super High Rollers into final

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The landscape of a high-stakes poker tournament can change quickly from morning through to night.

Steve O'Dwyer began the day on top of the order. Talking this morning he put it down to being "the luckiest player" on day one. He then jokingly predicted that the field were playing for second place, all except for one player who he pointed at walking past. Maybe that guy could end the day on top. That man was Dan Smith and eight levels later O'Dwyer is out and Smith has a colossal chip lead.

Smith was already a legitimate high roller long before last April, when he developed a Midas touch during the Monaco Grand Final, where he won three side events one after the other. Top players will invoke variance to account for all manner of success, but luck would never be so generous, at least not outside the careers of televised talent contest winners. The same applies here. Smith leads because he was simply the best player on the day.

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Chip leader Dan Smith

Behind him - by some way - are the seven other finalists who will play for the €1,075,500 first prize.

Mike McDonald will be one of Smith's chief rivals, a man who has rightly been written about endlessly since his win in Dortmund more than four years ago.

You can say that of all the finalists, each of whom has won something or impressed somehow, whether it's on this tour or another: JC Alvarado, Talal Shakerchi, Mike Watson and Erik Seidel have had their fair share of headlines. Sahamies in particular warranted extra attention today.

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Ilari Sahamies

Perhaps the least known of the bunch is Jim McCrink. Could he be the dark horse tomorrow? We'll discover more about him when play restarts.

There were various rebuys today and sizable stacks everywhere and yet the eliminations continued at pace.

Artem Litvinov, detailed in depth today, sent O'Dwyer to the rail and then coin tossed (and we mean that literally) his way to just short of the final table, bringing the day to an end when he bubbled in ninth place.

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Artem Litvinov

He was last to depart, but before him the likes of Negreanu, Grospellier, Mercier, Katchalov, Ivey and Duhamel were soon off for the rest of the day. Catch up on the day's action at the links below:

  • Super High Rolling
  • All too easy for second chance O'Dwyer
  • Rebuying, and when to do it
  • Welcome to the family, Artem
  • Hair today, gone tomorrow: the rise of Ilari Sahamies

    For now the finalists will either rest up ahead of a long day tomorrow, or strain the last of the free bar at the Shoko welcome party, down on the beach a short walk away.

    Here's how they'll line up:

    Seat 1 - JC Alvarado, 3,116,000
    Seat 2 - Mike McDonald, 4,650,000
    Seat 3 - Erik Seidel, 698,000
    Seat 4 - Mike Watson, 604,000
    Seat 5 - Dan Smith, 5,108,000
    Seat 6 - Jim McCrink, 500,000
    Seat 7 - Ilari Sahamies, 685,000
    Seat 8 - Talal Shakerchi, 670,000

    Smith leads with a share of more than €3 million up for grabs and an official Shamballa Jewels bracelet. While they play through they'll be surrounded by the opening day of the main event, for most the first day proper of the ninth season, which is already looking like a table strainer.

    It's been a long summer without EPT action. Tomorrow should be worth the wait.

    Stephen Bartley
    @StephenBartley in Day 3