Rodrigo Strong hangs tough, leads UKIPT Marbella final table
Fifty-five players returned today and while we could only guess at which eight would make the final table, from a long way out it seemed a near certainty that Rodrigo Strong would be amongst them.
The overnight chip leader went from strength to strength today and never lost top spot on the leaderboard as he powered his way to the final table. A cooler of a hand against Janina Burger, in which they both flopped trips, meant he had almost a quarter of the chips in play with 22 players left and he further increased his stack to end the day on 7,2350,000. Good for 34% of the chips in play. The LAPT9 Chile champion is having a fantastic year and just as in March, when he won his LAPT title, he'll start the final day as chip leader.
Final table chip counts:
|1||Bob Janssens||Netherlands||PokerStars Player||2,810,000|
|2||Armin Zoike||Germany||PokerStars Qualifier||1,655,000|
|3||Milos Skrbic||Serbia||PokerStars Qualifier||2,090,000|
|7||Nikola Ristivojevic||Serbia||PokerStars Qualifier||850,000|
|8||Jonathan Schuman||United Kingdom||2,325,000|
The following is about Strong from our LAPT blog in March: "he scored knockout after knockout, winning nearly every all-in encounter he found himself involved in en route to ending the night with the eight-handed chip lead."
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That quote is equally apt today as Strong barely put a chip wrong and to highlight just one hand, he made quads to eliminate Alejandro Vazquez in 12th place. He almost always had double the chips of whichever player occupied second place. In short, he crushed it.
It's a cosmopolitan final table with no less than seven nationalities represented and unlike Strong, who knows what it's like to win a major poker tournament, the vast majority of those who line up behind him are still waiting for their breakout result.
While Strong's path to the final table was serene and untroubled the same can't be said of Bob Janssens. Over nine hours of play he scrapped his way to the final table. What's more his day should've been done on the first hand of play. He got his 20 big blind stack in with A♣J♣ and rivered a jack to beat Nick De Groot's pocket nines.
He never looked back and a crucial hold with jacks against ace-king with 14 players left means the Dutchman goes into tomorrow's final table as Strong's nearest challenger.
The Dutchman secured that spot by scoring the final knockout of the day when he eliminated Romain Feriolo in ninth. He's so old school he final tabled the first ever EPT Grand Final. He finished fourth in that event earning €139,000. That's not his only EPT final table though as he six months later he finished eighth at EPT2 Barcelona. The Spaniard was second in chips for large swathes of today but a mistimed bluff and an ace-king v kings cooler meant he started the unofficial final table of nine as the shortstack. He took his final stand with A♦J♦ but couldn't beat the A♣K♠ of Janssens.
That exit means there are actually no Spaniard's at the final table. Not only that, but there are more Serbians than Brits at the final table, with Milos Skrbic and Nikola Ristivojevic both among the final eight. They both started Day 3 among the top five stacks so it's not a massive shock that both are still in contention. They are room mates here in Marbella and travel the circuit together.
Ristivojevic doubled up Alexander Voytko during nine handed play so will start the day as the shortest stack while Skrbic enters the final table in fifth place.
Germany's representative at the final table is Armin Zoike. He had an eventful day, some of which occurred before he'd even played a hand. He was conspicuous by his absence when play got underway. On his way to the tournament he cut his head and it needed a little patching up before he could play. He turned his start of day 752,000 into 1,655,000 by play's end.
Despite cashes in the Aussie Millions main event and at EPT Campione regardless of where Zoike finishes tomorrow it'll be his largest live tournament cash to date
I think we can all agree you need a healthy slice of luck (as well as skill) to capture a poker tournament and if Alexander Voytko is victorious tomorrow he'll likely look back on a hand against Nikola Ristivojevic as a big momentum swinger. With nine players left the 2012 Israeli poker champion was all-in and at risk with Q♥9♣ and needed help against Ristivojevic's A♠8♥. A queen on the flop kept his interest in this tournament alive and he'll start tomorrow in seventh place.
Voytko might argue he's due some luck as if you cast your mind back to Day 1A he lost a 120,000 chip pot at the death when a dealer erroneously mucked his cards.
Tomorrow will be a big day in the poker lives of Mikhal Ozimek and Jonathan Schuman. The Pole will score his biggest ever live cash should he manage seventh of better. And if Schuman follows suit he'll, at the very least, double his lifetime live poker earnings. The pair will start third and fourth respectively.
To make the final table of eight we needed to lose 47 players today and it was with some sadness that the final table won't be enlivened by the presence of Albert Sapiano. He exited in 15th place and his final hand was a microcosm of his personality. He'd complained of being card dead and finally found a hand with which to raise - the mighty 3♠2♣ as it happened - on a K♠3♦6♦ flop he open shoved and ran into Armin Zoike's slowplayed aces. A few f-bombs followed as he made his exit stage left. He'll be missed but not forgotten.
Other players who had to hop into side events today if they wanted to play more poker were: June Jenkins (53rd), Yannis Liperis (48th), Gareth De Groot (44th), Kevin Monroe (29th), Janina Burger (23rd) and Kjell Lindqvist (16th).
You can see the comprehensive list of in the money finishers by clicking here, while you catch up on all today's action if you click right here. We'll be back at noon to bring you final table coverage. There's the small matter of € 151,350 and the trophy to play for.
PokerStars Blog Reporting Team at UKIPT6 Marbella: Marc Convey and Nick Wright. Photos by Mickey May and Rene Velli. Follow the PokerStars Blog on Twitter: @PokerStarsBlog