2009 PCA: Another day in paradise
This is a day that might have lasted long into the night and, quite possibly, deep into tomorrow. Compressing a field of 102 players to the 32 needed for day four's action could easily have taken 12 hours or more.
As it is, I write this only six hours of play after the first card of the day was dealt. This was as swift and accelerated as the Abyss vertical-drop slide in the Atlantis resort's water park. And it was no less of a thrill.
The two men who made the most of a frankly ridiculous day of deep-stacked poker were Kevin Saul and Benny Chen, who spent most of the same day bossing the same table and busting anyone else.
They each took down pots worth close to a million, eliminating adversaries when it might have been them sent packing. Saul's Ac-10c cooled Max Pescatori's set of kings when it made the nut flush on the turn; Chen also had A-10 when he rivered an ace against Craig Boyd's jacks, and he also busted Eric Liu with two-pair against a missed flush draw, then seeing off Brad Huhtala and Michael Durrer.
Those two bagged up close to two million chips and they are joined at those upper reaches by Daniel Heimiller (1.6m), David Baker (1.4m) and Benny Spindler (2.2m), whose ascents to those dizzy heights were somewhat more steady but no less dramatic.
Alexandre Gomes rose closest to the sun for Team PokerStars Pro. His day started off as something of a grind, got very good at the mid point, before his wings were clipped again late on. After initially watching his stack dwindle to around 300,000, he was rescued by two monstrous hands. First he made a straight with pocket nines to best Jesse Kramer's aces, then he accounted for Brent Wheeler with tens against eights.
That put Gomes at more than a million, but he had lost half of those by day's close, many in a pot against Kathy Liebert's pocket kings.
At the other end of the 32 remaining players, the Team PokerStars Pro Victoria Coren will be the first to admit that she rode her luck to get through to the fourth day. At one point, she was all in with J-7 and ending up chopping the pot against her opponent's K-J. Then her 5-6 beat A-6 when she flopped the straight, and late on she managed to get jacks to hold up against A-5.
Coren returns for day four with a short stack but still in the game.
Of course for every survivor, there were two departures and we lost both of the Million Dollar Men among them. The World Champion, Peter Eastgate, fell early and Ylon Schwartz suffered a miserable day, watching his mid-to-short stack become a short-ish stack, then a bone fide short stack, then a shorter-than-short stack and then it was gone.
But players sent to the rail today found themselves in good company. In addition to those already mentioned, this was no day to be any of Mark Seif, Joao Barbosa, Nenad Medic, Tom Franklin, Jeff Madsen, Grant Hinkle, Denes Kalo or John Cernuto. They all perished too.
So it is that we reconvene at noon tomorrow to squeeze this field further until it fits on the eight chairs of Saturday's EPT final table.
In the meantime, take a look back at today's action with the level-by-level, blow-by-blow account of the day in paradise.
And if you want something very similar, only in words that you probably won't understand, why not try the foreign-language version of PokerStars blog. It's available in German, Swedish, Spanish, Italian, Brazilian and evenPolish.
There's all the moving-picture action on the ever-excellent PokerStars.tv, where you can also catch the EPTLive coverage of today's High Roller event final table and tomorrow's final 32 main event coverage.
That's all for today from the main event, although stay tuned for coverage of the High Roller's final table, with Stephen Bartley. They're down to four players there and playing to a winner.
All photos (c) Joe Giron/IMPDI and Neil Stoddart