When the final nine players squeezed in around the feature table to play until one more of them was gone, nobody really expected the night to go on much longer. Typically these stages are a patient yet spirited pause whilst the short stack finds a hand to move all-in with; then they bag up, grab coats and call it a night.

Not this time. It was past midnight Riviera time when the last hand blasted a hole through to Saturday, a three way all-in that will send the adrenaline surging for hours yet, ending any hope of sleep for some time.

Kara Scott and the video blog team have the wrap up of the day…

Before that William Thorson had moved all-in with K-J, had been called by Anthony with A-Q and had hit two jacks on the flop to double-up. We played on. Then after a slight delay to retrieve a card that had stuck beneath the rim of the table, PokerStars qualifier Marcus Bower doubled-up through Dag Palovic, pocket nines for Marcus against the Q-J that Dag used to call. The pair held. We played on.


PokerStars qualifier Marcus Bower

Then a hand that got people’s attention. PokerStars Sponsored player Johannes Strassmann raised and Marcus Bower re-raised. When Gregory Genovese moved all-in and the other two followed suit people were on their feet demanding drama. So to this – a three-way scrimmage between Marcus with pocket jacks, Genovese with A-K and Johannes with A-Q. It actually presented the possibility that two players would bust out making for a seven seat final.


Gregory Genovese

The flop was a knife to the heart of Johannes Strassmann, coming as it did K-4-T. It made an ace or queen inadequate and the turn and river were blanks, sending the young German out in 9th place – so close to his second PokerStars.com EPT final table of the season.

“I’d say it was the worst moment of my poker career” said Johannes. But I suppose it’s not that bad. I’d still rather go out in 12th than to get so close.”

It also denied us a final table with five players who had previously reached that stage of a final before. Instead we’ll settle for four…

  • Team PokerStars Pro Dario Minieri finished third at EPT Baden in season three for €125,780.
  • William Thorson played out a memorable final table against Roland De Wolfe in season three at EPT Dublin where he came 3rd for €184,780.
  • Antony Lellouche of France made the final of EPT London this season, finishing 4th for €97,843.
  • Dag Palovic became the highest finishing Slovakian when he made the final of EPT Prague last December, finishing 7th for €93,600.

Had Johannes Strassmann made the final it would have been five. With this field it’s perhaps no wonder it took a while.

It also didn’t take a sociologist to work out that Dario Minieri was the crowd favourite, just as he had been all week, his every hand greeted with whooping, hollering, flag waving, like every hand was a party or New Year’s Eve.


Team PokerStars Pro Dario Minieri, chip leader for tomorrow

Commentators and fellow pros alike may dub Dario to be a maniac, super-aggressive, all manner of words that strike fear and caution into the souls of anyone looking for an easy ride. He may well be all that, but he’s also incredibly talented, and his journey this far was as well earned as it was celebrated.

Lining up alongside him tomorrow will be young American PokerStars qualifier Jason Mercier. The 21-year-old from Florida came into the day chip leader, having started the previous day way down on just over 20k. In contrast to Minieri Mercier’s journey through day two Jason was less showbiz, playing instead with a more workmanlike approach – playing his own game for only the second time live.


Second in chips PokerStars qualifier Jason Mercier

There are two other PokerStars qualifiers at the table, popular Frenchman Eric Koskas and American Markus Bower, both of whom dodged elimination today finishing as the two short stacks. Between them sit the likes of Dag Palovic and William Thorson. Thorson has the reputation of a giant and plays like one too, today showing the class to lay down hands and begin again, particularly against his nemesis Minieri.

We lost a series of strong players as the day played out. Londoner Paul Alterman would go first with chip leader from day two Ville Nyman, a PokerStars qualifier from Finland, following in 27th place. American Todd Brunson, a mighty player from the familiar backdrop of Las Vegas finished in 24th place whilst another former finalist Marcus Golser from Austria busted out in 21st.

Peter Roche, a familiar player on this and previous seasons of the EPT recorded his best cash finish to date, eliminated on 18th place in a flush draw hand against Eric Koskas, and popular PokerStars Sponsored Player Jan Heitmann was unable to hold on longer than 16th place.


Finally two players thought to be among the best young tournament players in the game today were within fingertip reach of both making the final. American Isaac Baron fell inches short in 11th place whilst his countryman Mark Flowers feller inches shorter in 10th.

Here’s a look at the chip counts going into the final tomorrow…

Dario Minieri — Italy — Team PokerStars Pro — 1,832,000
Jason Mercier — United States — PokerStars qualifier — 1,591,000

Anthony Lellouche — France — 1,192,000
Gregory Genovese — Italy — 694,000
Dag Palovic — Slovakia — 585,000
Eric Koskas — France — PokerStars qualifier — 449,000
William Thorson — Sweden — 418,000
Marcus Bower — United States — PokerStars qualifier — 278,000

That will do for today. Another EPT is within sight of its winner with a table packed with talent. Four days of intense world class poker led to disappointment for Johannes Strassmann, but well earned relief for the rest.

All the hard work will pay off for someone tomorrow when the final begins at 3pm local time. You can tune in once again to EPT Live to follow play from start to finish – the first hand to the last. You can also follow updates here on the PokerStars Blog.

To recap on all the details on the day visit the links below…

The last 31 battle down to a final

No let up in eliminations

Good news for Lellouche but the day ends for others

The Dario show continues but Jan Heitmann hangs on

Meanwhile on the other table

Things slow down as we get to 13

The Italian Job

Countdown to the final

So close but not far enough


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