Today was never going to be a long gruelling slog. Tough? Yes. Stressful? Certainly. But just not that long. Only 38 players had to be squeezed out as the field slimmed from 62 players down to 24, all of whom will now be setting their sights on making that final day and bagging the £750,000 first-place prize. Leading the footrace after the day’s four-and-half levels of play was Mattias Bergstrom on 1,838,000, barely an elbow ahead of Adria Balaguer (1,828,000) and Pascal Hartmann (1,800,000).
As highlighted by the tightness at the top, there was no runaway big stack, instead a swathe of contenders, a large chunk from the capital, contesting for pole position. Brits Sam Macdonald, Martins Adeniya and overnight leader James Mitchell all had their turn out in front but inevitably they were pulled back into the pack: Adeniya by Macdonald, Macdonald by Benny Spindler.
German Spindler has been a constant aggressive feature on this tour since his third place finish at the 2009 PCA for $1,100,000. His second place finish in last season’s Grand Final High Roller aside – if you can just ignore €316,000 just like that – a deep run has been long overdue. Here in London he looks centred, refusing to say much, perhaps not wanting to jinx a final table finish with a verbal show of overconfidence, so much so that he told an apologetic TV crew member who was escorting him to the interview that he’d “prefer not be on the feature table.”
Spindler finished on 1,421,000 and will be a massive threat tomorrow. The key moment being when he won a huge 1,300,000 pot shoving a rivered flush into Macdonald who had turned the nut straight. That proved to be a turning point for both players. Macdonald went on to be knocked out by Adeniya, his top pair failing to hold against a flopped combo draw.
Pascal Hartmann did what many others had tried to do over the last few days: slay Sandor Demjan. The Hungarian businessman, who had bubbled the $100,000 Super High Roller at the PCA earlier this year, had torn through his early opponents leaving, among others, Barry Greenstein scratching his head and hypothesising that Demjan wouldn’t make the money. The Hungarian proved them wrong finally busting in 38th when he called all-in with K♣J♠ to Hartmannn’s pocket sixes on a J♦6♦2♠5♥J♣ board.
We started the day with four Team PokerStars Pros, we ended the day with significantly less. Just one; Juan Manuel Pastor began as he meant to go on, he found a big hand, got it in and won. It started with with A♥K♦ against James Wilson’s 10♦8♣ to bump him up to 650,000 and he chose a similar strategy to knock out fellow Team Pro Humberto Brenes, setting the Costa Rican all-in with black aces against big slick. That put him past a million close to where he finished the day on 940,000. Brenes departed, shrugging, in 32nd place for a £16,000 payday. Ana Marquez departed earlier in 42nd (£13,000) while Slavtore Bonavena held on a little longer, rivering a set to stay alive at one point, to finish in 29th (£16,000).
Bonavena’s departure, which followed sometime after Roberto Romanello’s in 37th (£13,000), leaves just Joao Barbosa as our first potential double EPT winner. The player from Portugal faces an uphill struggle tomorrow as he sees how far he can go in this his 12th EPT cash. It’s not a challenge Barbosa is adverse to, he started the day as the second shortest stack with just 46,000. He comes back tomorrow with 601,000. The double is still on, albeit a long shot.
And, of course, a special mention for Sebastian Blom, aka ‘Isildur1.1’ or Brother of Blom. The Swede was three-betting virulently throughout the day but his head of steam dissipated in the dying minutes leaving him with just 58,000. He’ll be first in the line at the double up queue in the morning. Join us there.
Join us tomorrow from 12 noon where we’ll be playing down from 24 to a final table of eight. To catch up on the day’s action click on the links below and click on the red link if you want to see who and where players busted. Do it, see how things panned out. The remaining 24 players’ chips counts can be found here.
All pictures should be credited to Neil Stoddart, for it is he who owns the copyright of them.