Day three on the EPT means the race to 24. Although our opening flights are dictated only by the clock, furniture becomes the crucial concern in these later stages. There is only room on the penultimate day for three tables, around which there are only eight chairs apiece. The scrap to determine their occupants is often bloody: there has to be casualties, it’s the way of the poker world.
The Israeli player Eyal Avitan locked up his chair significantly earlier than everyone else – and it’s a jewel-encrusted throne. Avitan remained untarnished and golden throughout the wanton slaughter, bagging up a chip lead of 1,938,000 tonight.
He claimed countless scalps as the overnight field of 95 was reduced to those final 24. The highest profile of those was the the EPT Grand Final champion Pieter de Korver, who lost two crucial and massive hands to Avitan. The second sent De Korver to the rail. He only had aces.
Avitan’s closest challenger tomorrow will be Juha Lauttamus (1,311,000), a Finn who made the final table here in 2007, during season four. According to Nicolas Levi, who played with Lauttamus during that tournament as well as this, the Finn’s game has developed a good deal in those two years. He now has the chips to make him a hot tip for Sunday’s final table.
Local hopes are in extremely safe hands. Jan Skampa might be the only Czech native still in the field, but this kid can play. He was fourth in Vilamoura last week, has barely blinked in the intervening days, and now has 1,288,000 going into day four. Stefan Mattsson, who also cashed in Vilamoura, and in Prague last year, has more than a million too.
The aforementioned Levi was among today’s notable fallers, and his countryman Arnaud Mattern, who won here in 2007, was another one. Levi left us in 52nd, Mattern in 63rd. All the prizewinners so far are on the prizewinners page.
You might notice that Luca Pagano’s name isn’t there. The reason? You mean you need to ask? Yet again – for a record-extending 13th time – Pagano made the money on the EPT, and he isn’t done yet.
Pagano has 648,000 going into day four. It really is the most familiar of all familiar tales in poker and we might just save ourselves some time and write this paragraph at the start of the whole tournament from now on.
Another name not on the payout page is that of Tim Kahlmeyer. He became the bubble boy when he departed in 81st, not able to get his A♥J♣ to stand up against De Korver’s A♦10♦.
There was no shame in missing the money here: the Team PokerStars Pro duo of Sandra Naujoks and Jude Ainsworth also departed the wrong side of the bubble. (Not so Marcin Horecki. The Polish pro finished 29th in what was his fifth cash on the EPT.)
But all eyes now focus on the 24 survivors whose names you can still see on the chip count page. A good deal of them also crop up in the numerous video blogs always available at PokerStars.tv or in the frames of Neil Stoddart’s peerless pictures on PokerStars Blog, which are all (c) him.
Take a look back at the hand-by-hand action in any of the following links:
And read it all too in the following languages: