UKIPT4 Nottingham2: Juan Benito blazes into Day 2 chip lead
Day 2 of UKIPT Nottingham saw the 331 felicitous survivors of the three opening days return to clash swords once more at Dusk Till Dawn. The atmosphere in the casino has been charged and potent all week long and today continued in the same vein.
With a prize pool in excess of £1 million, a host of established and potential stars thronged the casino and a day of unrelenting, fascinating poker played out in DTD's lavish milieu.
Juan Benito was the man who boldly snatched his chance for glory, bagging up 1,473,000 when play was brought to a halt after nine levels.
He will return for Day 4 with Ben Vinson (1,216,000) and Willie Elliott (1,178,000) in close pursuit and a pack of talented hotshots such as form horse Ryan Spittles (1,115,000), the experienced Tim Blake (837,000), double UKIPT winner Joeri Zandvliet (690,000) and this week's High Roller runner-up Richard Kellett (490,000) ready to seize their opportunity should the chance present itself.
For full chip counts at the close of play click here.
Before Benito could claim his tag as end of day champion however, the bubble needed to be played out.
Naturally this was a tense period - a litany of silent prayers offered up to the poker gods by the nail-biting shortstacks. Finally, Edward Clark was the man whose entreaties fell on stony turf; Richard Gryko delivering the blow that felled him, relegating Clark to the ignominious bubble spot.
Hard luck for Clark but the cheer that rang round the casino from the remaining 183 players could be heard as far as the local Chiquitos. Arriba!
At least Clarke was in laudable company finishing cashless, joined as he was by a list of eminent players including Fintan Gavin, Full Tilt Poker Ambassador Dermot Blain, and previous UKIPT champs Robbie Bull and Max Silver.
Team PokerStars Pro Jake Cody fared better, slipping through the bubble with a micro-stack to secure a cash before joining the rail later in the day.
A similar fate befell PokerStars SportStar Fatima Moreira de Melo, Full Tilt Poker Ambassador Martins Adeniya and 2013 EPT Barcelona champion Tom Middleton, all three cashing in before crashing out.
With payouts guaranteed, the battle was on for chip dominion.
Jude Ainsworth had come into the day with a fulsome stack and fiercesome reputation and though he held the chip lead for some time, his regular sparring with tablemate Arvin Ravindran eventually proved his undoing. The irrepressible Ben Mayhew meanwhile vacillated between big stack and short stack before settling on 647,000 - which could yet be the platform that sees him mount a charge at the title.
Andrew Chen, Dave Ulliott, Jeff Kimber, Paul Foltyn and Thomas Ward can return home with their heads held high and their wallets bulging despite exiting. Ward in particular should feel great pride, having added a record 11th UKIPT Main Event finish to his CV, underlying his undoubted talent in this format.
For a snappy view of how Day 2 played out, here's an exciting video featuring the incomparable Nick Wealthall to summarise it for you.
We'll return tomorrow for Day 4 - the roster of potential UKIPT champions rapidly diminishing as the tension ramps up. Play begins at 12 o'clock as per and we'll be playing down to the final table.
There will be a live feed available tomorrow so you can follow the action as it happens through a variety of media. Live stream will be available on the following:
Interact with commentators Marc Convey and Nick Wealthall via twitter using #UKIPTLive!
With the excitement growing and an unforgettable page of history about to be scribed, you'd be crazy to miss out. We hope to see you there!
To read updates from levels 15-19, click here.
To read updates from levels 11-14, click here.
Photos courtesy of Danny Maxwell