Home advantage can be a powerful commodity in a great number of pursuits. Yesterday at the tables of the European Poker Tour main event in Barcelona, it came into play for Samuel Rodriguez, a 25-year-old student and hotel worker from just around the corner.
Despite playing in his first EPT tournament, and sitting for long periods on the feature table, where stress levels can be amplified by studio lights and an audience, Rodriguez looked perfectly at home throughout. He finished the day with a monstrous chip lead – his 5,330,000 is more than two million more than his closest challenger – and could reflect on a job well done.
“I had a very good day,” Rodriguez said. “I am very, very surprised but I played some good poker.”
Asked about his strategy for the next two days’ play, Rodriguez allowed himself a moment to ponder the idea of reaching a final table, before hastily reining in his ambitions. “Let’s see what happens tomorrow,” he said. “Tomorrow will be another day.”
What then was “tomorrow” has now arrived for Rodriguez, as well as the 23 other players still with designs of their own on the first EPT title of season nine. Our plan for today is simple: to reduce the field of 24 down to the last eight, who will compete for the €1,007,550 top prize tomorrow.
Each of the players – 22 men and two women, from countries including Australia, Lithuania (2 players), Great Britain (1), the United States (1), Finland (3), France (2), Germany (1) and Spain (6) – are guaranteed at least €29,400. But they are seeking significantly more.
The Team PokerStars Sportstar Fatima Moreira de Melo is aiming for her first final table, while Roberto Romanello is keeping the hopes of a double champion flying.
The line-up at this stage, plus chip counts, is as follows. This is also the Day 5 starting seat draw:
1 – Lucille Cailly France 1,431,000
2 – Antonin Duda Czech Republic 2,054,000
3 – Ole Schemion Germany 1,571,000
4 – Javier Piazuelo Spain 1,256,000
5 – Jonathan Karamalikis Australia 3,085,000
6 – Morten Mortensen Denmark 392,000
7 – Alex Casals Spain 731,000
8 – John Juanda United States 1,644,000
1 – Saveikis Algirdas Lithuania 488,000
2 – Alain Roy France 445,000
3 – Mauro Canavese Italy 1,026,000
4 – Ilari Sahamies Finland 1,040,000
5 – Fatima Moreira de Melo Netherlands 805,000
6 – Mikolaj Zawadzki Poland 1,006,000
7 – Luis Rufas Spain 405,000
8 – Elias Gutierrez Hernandez Spain 1,290,000
1 – Ibon Merino Borbolla Spain 615,000
2 – Joni Jouhkimainen Finland 1,161,000
3 – Aku Joentausta Finland 1,015,000
4 – Anton Sinel Romania 1,974,000
5 – Anaras Alekberovas Lithuania 685,000
6 – Mikalai Pobal Belarus 2,745,000
7 – Roberto Romanello United Kingdom 497,000
8 – Samuel Rodriguez Spain 5,330,000
We have introduced you to a succession of the more unfamiliar names over the course of the week. Look back in particular to yesterday’s pieces about the Russian invasion, and the Finns and big names. That’s where you will find the biographical information to marry with the hand-for-hand action detailed in the top panel of the main EPT Barcelona page.
Lynn Gilmartin introduces Day 5…