UKIPT4 Isle of Man 2: Chef Woods shows poker chops to lead Day 2 counts
We returned for Day 2 of the Isle of Man UKIPT and a fast and furious day saw Darren Woods take pole position once the counts were tallied and verified.
The Manx Chef of the year took off his chef's whites and traded in beating eggs for beating regs as he ripped through the stacked field to accumulate a gargantuan stack of 907,000 - over 10% of the chips in play.
The 116 survivors from the opening two days had earlier coalesced into one seething mass of poker talent at the Villa Marina - Matthew Baker leading the way when they took to the felt. Baker used his chip lead as a springboard to reach 327,000 at the close.
The array of poker expertise running through the remaining combatants ensured there would be some seismic confrontations ahead, and so it proved as the field was shorn apart in a display of aggressive poker.
Reputations counted for little in this maelstrom - some big names tumbling out of contention, including Team PokerStars Pros Luca Pagano, Jake Cody and Christophe de Meulder and Team PokerStars Online's Vicente Delgado and Mickey Petersen.
Representing the PokerStars brand with more success were the ladies; Team PokerStars Pro Vicky Coren Mitchell (77,500), Team PokerStars SportStar Fatima Moreira de Melo (58,500) and Team PokerStars Online's Adrienne "Talonchick" Rowsome (227,000) all surviving the incendiary day to come out with their hopes of UKIPT glory intact.
The Full Tilt Poker Ambassadors who had made it through experienced divergent fortunes - Dermot Blain crashing out whilst the always-dangerous Martins Adeniya bagged up a huge 448,500 chips at the close - good for second place on the leaderboard in the final reckoning.
The field may have been replete with big name pros but many of the Rational Group Staff took them on with great panache to come through the day unscathed; Lee Jones (120,000), Ian Marmion (333,500), Paren Arzoomanian (129,500) and Heath Cram (61,500) emerging with particular credit.
Less fortuitous was the extravagantly-dressed Chris Straghalis, who had the experience of a deep run here last year to draw on, but his best intentions couldn't keep the fickle hand of variance at bay - Thomas Ward (who came through with 176,000) besting him in a terminal coin-flip prior to the payout spots.
The bubble period was a remarkably serene affair. There were of course a host of players whose fingernails shortened in direct correlation with their stacks, though their anxiety was to be mercifully brief as the bubble approached and burst in brisk fashion.
Gregory Chambers was the man to finish in the highest unpaid tournament spot, falling the wrong side of a coin flip at just the wrong moment.
Sad times for Chambers but joy for the 55 remaining players who were all guaranteed a wedge of cash for their efforts. Hooray!
Typically, the bursting of the bubble is the catalyst for a slew of bustouts as the confirmation of remuneration frees the players to chance their arm a little and today was no exception.
The end-of-day threshold took just one more level to arrive - the remaining forty players granted the rare opportunity to both complete a full day's poker and bask in the day's remaining sunlight.
All forty will be nuturing nascent hopes with the final table coming into view, but today was Darren Woods' day and he will be a firm favourite for the title when the players resume tomorrow at 12:00pm.
Join us then as we detail the path to the final. The crowning of a champion is just around the corner and you can watch the action take place on the featured livestream available in various forms including:
Sarah Grant caught up with Darren Woods earlier in the day to discuss his poker pedigree and culinary skills.
PokerStars Blog reporting team at UKIPT Isle of Man: Rod Stirzaker and Nick Wright. Photos by Danny Maxwell.