Day four began with fourty players, many of whom had a legitimate shot at the final table. Among them, Team PokerStars Pros, young online wunderkinds, and seasoned tournament rounders. Each knew that, by the time they went to sleep, they’d know whether they would be sitting at Thursday’s final table and shooting for the €2 million first prize.
More than twelve hours later, day four was complete…but not quite.
As level 23 came to a close, a change of plan was in the air. Instead of playing down to an eight-handed table, play would stop and re-start at 1pm Thursday. The rumour quickly became fact and at 1:05am, play stopped with ten players remaining.
You could ask yourself why all this took so long, why at any other time a day like this could fly past in a whirlwind of activity. Well the answer is simple. This is the PokerStars.com EPT Grand Final and if you’ve made it this far from a starting field of 842, you’re going to do everything in your power to stay here.
So just seconds after Team PokerStars Pro Joe Hachem was eliminated–ending any hope of the World Champion and WPT winner completing an incredible Triple Crown–play closed. It was quite a day.
It started fast enough, with a quick succession of eliminations. But it would fast become a slow battle of attrition. At the dinner break, six hours from the start, 19 players remained. In scenes reminiscent of the bubble play yesterday, it would take some time before the eliminations continued.
Instead of any frenetic freefall action, each bust out was well earned, coming after each player had exhausted his options and had no choice but to shove in and place his glory hopes on the fortunes of a hot or cold deck. Exhaustion, raw hands, and mental anguish were the hallmarks of the defeated, all that and more were the hallmarks of those still in.
It was a mixed day for Team PokerStars Pro.
Raymond Rahme never pushed for the chip lead this week, never made bold all-in moves that defied the odds, or yelled about it afterwards. Instead he demonstrated that to get deep in an event like this you don’t always have to have the biggest stack, the biggest voice or the biggest moves – just know how important it is to survive.
You could say that Raymond’s terrific run came to a halt on his terms when he shoved with pocket queens. The only problem was the aces he ran into, which ended his tournament in 27th place; a second cash in two EPT events following his result in San Remo. It made the long trip from South Africa all the more worthwhile.
Two other team PokerStars Pros would trail good stories on their journey through the day.
Whilst father Claudio chased son Luca all the way before ending his tournament in 22nd place, Team PokerStars Pro’s Luca Pagano made EPT history with this, his ninth cash. He was hell bent on making his first final table since a double appearance in season one; a final that had eluded him for so long. At the end of play, he still has chips and an eye on bagging himself an EPT title.
Another record was at stake and came painfully close for Joe Hachem. The 2005 World Champion and 2006 WPT North American Poker Classic champion stood on the brink of equalling one of the most impressive achievements in the game – winning the Triple Crown. But it was not to be for the Australian. PokerStars qualifier Isaac Baron, one of the uber-generation of internet players who had caused frustration for everyone all day, sent Joe to the rail in eleventh place.
Like I said, no one went easily from this day and the same fighting spirit will grip the last ten players when they restart tomorrow.
Notable others today included three PokerStars Supernova elites. Thomas Boekhoff busted in 14th place, ahead of Anders Berg and Alexander Morozov who departed in 37th and 35th place respectively.
A word should be said about PokerStars qualifier Vincent Secher. You may remember from a post earlier this week that Vincent was spending nights in a campsite, such was a chronic shortage of hotel rooms in Monte Carlo this week. On hearing this, PokerStars got him a room at the Monte Carlo Bay Hotel which he was grateful for (there have been some cold nights) and, as a mark of this step up in surroundings, played the day wearing a hotel bathrobe and slippers. When I spoke to him it was clear that he was enjoying every minute of his grand final, and despite busting out in 13th place, had the time of his life and is a little richer for it.
Now, a tense night before we reconvene tomorrow afternoon to bust two more players and play down to a winner. Glen Cherny, watched by his parents on the rail, may sleep the most sound, holding the overnight chip lead with around 2 million, whilst American Michael Martin, whose parents are following his progress avidly online from back home in the States, is behind him with over 1.5million.
Today marked the start of the EPT Live coverage and that continues tomorrow, starting at 1pm local time. In the meantime you can get a chip count recap of the last ten players HERE, and a roundup of the results so far HERE.
To catch up on all of the day’s action check out the links below…