We started with 32, we finished with eight. Momentum would always get us there at some stage but no one really expected the day to go so quickly. There seemed no let up in the pace and almost from the start players began falling by the wayside, from Manfred Bass in 32nd all the way through to Bulgarian Alexander Milanov who ended his day on the TV bubble in ninth place. Just another volatile day of poker on the EPT.
Who was left? The line up for tomorrow’s final table looks like this…
Mike McDonald – Canada — 862k
Diego Perez – Spain — 744k
Thibaut Durand – France – 148k
Johannes Strassmann – Germany – 827k
Christian Harder – United States – PokerStars qualifier — 339k
Andreas Gulunay – Germany — 560k
Torsten Haase – Germany – 369k
Claudio Rinaldi – Switzerland – 276k
All that’s left now is to try to unravel the story of what happened in between.
Favourites at the start of the day were the two players that to everyone stood out from the rest. But for Marcel Luske and Brandon Schaefer it was destined to be a day of frustration. Whilst Marcel’s demise came over a lengthy spell Brandon’s exit took just five hands – five showdowns that as he said himself he was ahead in each time. He went from over 200k, to 40k, to bust. It took no more than 20 minutes and more followed. In the time it took to write the first headline we had already lost five.
Whilst all this took place a few feet away on the feature table, fortune shone brightly on Englishman Dan Carter whose high watermark hand came in a pot worth 250k that sent two players to the rail, including countryman Christopher Rossiter. It kept the heads up championship runner up in business a while longer but his day would end in 12th position and € 41,100. Still, it was typical of a day of big hands played fast.
After a glimpse at the intricacies of a feature table, and an hour for dinner, play picked up where it left off and in the same rapid spirit. As Carter went Canadian Mike McDonald began to light a trail to his seat in the last eight. The 18 year-old is in the midst of a hot streak with four big cashes, split between the EPT Prague and Australia, in the last five weeks alone. This one makes five and there may be little to stop him.
Johannes Strassmann grew to be one of the key players of the day and his duel with McDonald may prove to be the match-up of tomorrow. They each claimed scalps in their bid for the chip lead and built stacks that will serve well in front of the final table cameras. 40k separates them and it’s over 100k to the next player along – Spaniard Diego Perez who started the day in front.
So with the final set, the crowds heading off from the Casino Hohensyburg and a finale ready to play out the last word rests with Gavin Griffin. His name has been talked about all day with everyone working in the poker world only too aware of how great an achievement his Triple Crown win of WSOP, EPT and WPT titles really is.
Tomorrow has all the hallmarks of a fantastic final. There may not be the big names some expected but by Saturday night their replacements will be more than fitting. Mike McDonald is the chip leader on 862k, closely followed by local boy Johannes Strassmann on 827k. Thibaut Durand has work to do as the short stack on 148k.
It starts at 3pm local time tomorrow and can be followed all the way from start to finish on EPT Live and of course here on the PokerStars blog. You can also find more details of which players finished where by clicking here, and to catch up on the day’s events and with Kara Scott and the EPT Live team…
All the action from today’s play with Kara Scott…