From Miami John Cernuto to Chris Rossiter – they fell one-by-one on the penultimate day of season five of the EPT. It left us eventually with eight, but nothing today was ever set in stone. Chip leaders became early fallers, while those previously with little hope become giants in short order. So it had to be if we were to reach our Grand Final final table.
Dag Martin Mikkelsen finally saw to that, busting the last British player, Chris Rossiter, with a touch of good fortune, to greatly help his own cause. The Norwegian returns tomorrow in pole position with more than seven million tournament-leading chips.
Chip leader Dag Martin Mikkelsen
Here’s how they’ll line up:
Seat 1 – Peter Traply, Hungary, PokerStars qualifier, 4,365,000
Seat 2 – Mikhail Tulchinskiy, Russia, 3,220,000
Seat 3 – Eric Qu, France, 2,880,000
Seat 4 – Peter De Korver, Holland, PokerStars player, 2,500,000
Seat 5 – Alem Shah, Germany, PokerStars qualifier, 1,490,000
Seat 6 – Daniel Zink, Gemany, 1,865,000
Seat 7- Martin Woodward, USA, PokerStars qualifier, 4,560,000
Seat 8 – Dag Martin Mikkelsen, Norway, 7,315,000
Throughout the week, top German pros had been edging towards the top of the chip lists, a similar story that has played out all season. The likes of Sandra Naujoks and Sebastian Ruthenberg may have departed yesterday, but their hopes rested on the talented shoulders of George Danzer and Johannes Strassmann, two players who had demonstrated an ability to make others look bad.
Danzer arrived with great confidence but his early fighting spirit was stamped on prematurely, out in 24th place. Strassmann fared better, his steely approach guiding him through the early levels, but his plans were put on hold until next time, falling short of the final table in 14th position.
If 14th was unlucky for Strassmann, 13th was just as bad for Annette Obrestad. When she busted the atmosphere changed – the plot we were all following was ripped up, shredded and swapped for something no one had expected. The purists’ favourite was suddenly gone, victim to some bad aces, crushed by Peter De Korver’s nines that first made a set, then the quads. Obrestad had seemed in control, her class showing through yesterday when recovering from a knock that sent her back to 150,000. She recovered then but not today. The final table would have been richer with her along too.
But those left showed a determination to fight every inch of the way, making tomorrow’s final entirely unpredictable, peppered with unknown quantities. He may have flown under the radar before arriving in Monte Carlo but Mikael Tulchinskiy might well turn out to provide the kind of zero-to-hero, chip and a chair, stories so beloved of the poker myth-makers. Despite starting among the short stacks, a few double ups will work wonders, and Tulchinskiy did just that, at one point assuming the chip lead and then reclining for the cruise to the final table.
Ludovic Lacay’s story was almost precisely the opposite. Primed for action on arrival this afternoon, the Frenchman was soon forced to endure the bad times of beat after beat, culminating in a make-or-break shove with Q-J that ran slap bang into Strassmann’s A-K. Lacay left the building in 21st place.
There were some weighty fallers in the closing stages. The online wizard turned EPT serial-casher Stephen Silverman would depart 12th, the brilliantly named Grayson Physioc in 11th, then Marc Naalden, one of the few players left with EPT final table experience, seen off in tenth by Dag Martin Mikkelsen. With Rossiter gone on the TV bubble that was that.
We have our final table, the last of season five, ready to make history tomorrow afternoon.
That’s where all eyes now turn. Eight players will enter the Salle des Etoiles, but only one will leave with the EPT trophy. Most will claim that to be the true goal, but the €2.3 million that goes with it might be hard to ignore.
The full list of players who may be gone but are not forgotten can be found on the prize winners page and if none of this made any sense you might be French, Italian, Dutch, Norwegian, German or Swedish. You can read the blog in all of those languages.
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Until tomorrow it’s goodnight.