Ace-cracker Kolkowicz takes final-day lead at PokerStars Championship presented by Monte-Carlo Casino®

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Michael Kolkowicz: Chip leader after a topsy-turvy day

When it comes to the final day of a PokerStars Championship Main Event, there's really no need for a slow build up. Over the best part of the past week of competition, a starting field of 727 has been whittled down to six. All that really matters now is their names.

Without further ado, let's introduce them. This is the make-up of your six-handed final table, from which one of them will emerge with €500,800 richer and hoisting the spectacular trophy.

NameCountryChips
Michael KolkowiczFrance4,600,000
Andrey BondarRussia4,350,000
Raffaele SorrentinoItaly4,160,000
Andreas KlattGermany3,580,000
Maxim PanyakRussia3,345,000
Diego ZeiterArgentina1,780,000

They only got to this stage after 10 and a half hours today, a passage of play that began with ten more players than it finished with. It was a typically topsy-turvy day, featuring flurries of eliminations followed by long slow-downs, and on which at least five different players held the chip lead.

Romain Nardin had it at the start but quickly surrendered as Andreas Klatt went on a murderous rampage. But then Raffaele Sorrentino edged ahead as they went to dinner. Postprandial action sent Andrey Bondar to the top, but by the time the klaxon sounded--prompted by Davidi Kitai's elimination at around 10:30pm--it was Michael Kolkowicz heading the leader board ahead of tomorrow's finale.

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Romain Nardin: Chip leader to start, aces cracked to end

Kolkowicz deserves feature billing by virtue of his count, and by virtue of knocking out Nardin in eighth place in one of the day's highlight hands. (In short, K♦9♥ cracked A♦A♣.) But there had been even brighter lights shining into today: two Triple Crown winners for instance. However, Team PokerStars Pro Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier was knocked out in 12th, while Kitai's exit in seventh brought us to the last day.

ElkY couldn't really get anything going, and he fell agonising short on a week when he's rolled back the clock to his pomp. By contrast Kitai's stack fluctuated wildly, including the moment he hit a miracle ace when all-in and in a rough spot with A♣9♣ against Maxim Panyak's J♠J♣. It was on the river, of course. That ensured us more time to look at Kitai's familiar fizzog, although it has never quite been captured in this kind of rapture:

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Davidi still eligible for Kitai-tle

As ever, the easiest way to learn how we got to this stage is to scroll to the bottom of the Day 5 archive and work upwards. There's your multi-chapter, blow-by-blow narrative. Similarly, the best way to learn a bit more about the players in the last six is to head to the player profile page.

Tomorrow we'll focus on finding our champion, and if today has taught us anything, it's that this is still anybody's game. We won't leave Monaco until we have all the answers. Join us from noon.

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Michael Kolkowicz married his wife Cynthia in the Salle des Etoiles

Howard Swains
@howardswains in Monte Carlo