EPT9 Sanremo: May the Forsmo be with you
EPT9 Sanremo is coming nicely to the boil.
After starting the day with 430 players, we sent more than half of them spiraling out to the side events or the restaurants, leaving us with about 160 chasing the €800,000 first prize - or at least an €8,000 min-cash should they survive to become one of the last 120.
Top of the pops tonight is the unstoppable force of Inge Forsmo, a 24-year-old PokerStars qualifier from Norway, who has had one of those brilliant EPT tournaments that come along every now and again.
We caught up with the young Norwegian mid-way through the day, when he told us about a huge bluff he pulled during the first level of Day 1A.
Forsmo has not looked back from that moment, and vaulted into the chip lead in the post-prandial stages tonight. Again a single spectacular hand helped him to that lofty perch: he flopped a set of sixes against opponents with top pair and top two, respectively. That was good enough for a huge chip lead. Forsmo has 606,100 overnight.
There are two other players almost neck-and-neck just behind him: the home hope Charly Maracchione (505,800) and Jason Tompkins (500,000), from Ireland.
Maracchione - who has the kind of name a native English speaker might invent if asked to create a fictional Italian poker player (as in: "Anyway, I had kings and Charly Macaroni makes it a million to go with his deuces") - is another PokerStars qualifier from Italy, who has yet to register on anyone's radar. He plays online as charly87bwin and qualified via a €250 satellite. Now he is looking at becoming another Italian poker star.
Tompkins, on the other hand, has been on World Series final tables, as well as those of the UKIPT. He has three min-cashes on the EPT, but is looking for his first monstrous score.
Both Forsmo and Maracchione are relatively new to the European Poker Tour, which means they haven't yet experienced the unique type of vertigo that comes with the knowledge that a long list of world champions, online phenoms and seasoned EPT campaigners are snapping at your heels.
That group includes the likes of Pius Heinz (43,600) and Matt Salsburg (300,000+) - aka the WSOP Main Event champ and the most recent WPT winner - plus Nacho Barbero (who is a two-time LAPT champion) with 65,100 and Shaun Deeb (who is Shaun Deeb) with 188,800.
We will also welcome back to day three the Team PokerStars Pros Ana Marquez (162,000), Andre Akkari (46,300), Chris Moneymaker (70,600), Jude Ainsworth (138,700) and the former EPT Sanremo champions Liv Boeree (81,400) and Rupert Elder (31,500).
Team Online's Luca Moschitta finished with 104,400 and Mickey Petersen had 66,500. David Vamplew has 294,800.
Tomorrow's action kicks off at 2pm local time, which leaves you plenty of time to take a look back through today's coverage. We started off by looking at day twos in history, and followed up that cracker with a chat with Sam Razavi, who managed a 14-hour dinner break yesterday.
There was a little something about prop bets, and a chinwag with some pros about their pets. Plus Stephen Bartley answers the question everyone has been asking: "Does Sanremo exist when there is no one here to see it?"
It'll be more of the same tomorrow. Fewer pets perhaps.