Esfandiari leads the pack — Hachem, Pagano, and Rahme stay alive

There is a reason record books exist. Today’s money bubble is one of those reasons.

The plan today was to play down from 124 players to 40. It was viewed as a simple task. Only one thing stood in the way.

The money bubble was one of, if not the longest bubble in history. Play went hand-for-hand at 81 people. More than two and half hours later, the bubble finally broke. Well-known circuit pro Surinder Sunar was the unfortunate 81st place finisher. The run-up to that moment exhausted the most seasoned of pros–players and media professionals alike. The PokerStars Video Blog below (featuring none other than the always animated Stephen Bartley of the PokerStars Blog) is a quick summation of the record-breaking bubble.

Today, though, was not about who didn’t make money. It was about the people who would get in the money, and moreso, the people who would have a chance to make Thursday’s final table.

Among the people who cashed today were Luca Pagano and his father Claudio. It was the first time a father and son have cashed in the same PokerStars EPT event. For Luca, it was a special milestone. Today marked his ninth EPT cash, a record he now holds on his own after being tied with Julian Thew at eight. Both Luca and Claudio Pagano have finished Day 3 in the Top 40.

Luca Pagano

Today was also a good day for PokerStars players who are already out of the main event. Team PokerStars Pro Andre Akkari finished in second place in the €500 rebuy event, a final table he played with tennis champ Boris Becker.


Andre Akkari


Boris Becker

Elsewhere, PokerStars hosted the first-ever Stars of Poker $100,000 single table tournament. The event, featuring EPT creator John Duthie, as well as a host of Team PokerStars Pros, an EPT champion, and a PokerStars VIP Club Supernova Elite, promised $50,000 to the winner. In a field so tough, it was impossible to predict who would take it down. Still, it was no surprise to see Team PokerStars Pro Barry Greenstein walk away with the win.


John Duthie congratulates Barry Greenstein

The biggest mover of the day in the Grand Final was no doubt Antonio Esfandiari. Some people used the phrase “card rack,” but most agree Esfandiari played a stellar game today to move up over the 1 million chip mark which is good for the chip lead. UK pro Robin Keston looks to be in second place with around 900,000.


Chip leader, Antonio Esfandiari

He will join the last five tables on Wednesday to play down the final table of eight. Three members of Team PokerStars Pro still have a shot at the big money. Joe Hachem, Luca Pagano, and Raymond Rahme are all still in contention.


Joe Hachem gets the kinks worked out

Today was one of those grueling days on the poker circuit. It was one so full of promise, money, and occasional frustration that all of those involved are ready for a good night’s sleep. PokerStars qualifier Vincent Secher will hopefully sleep much better tonight. Not only did he finish in the Top 40 players and secure a chance for the final table he also has a proper bed in which to sleep. After winning a last-chance seat-only qualifier on PokerStars, Secher had a hard time finding a hotel room in the area. So, he and some friends pitched a tent in Nice for €18 a night. Upon learning of this today, the PokerStars staff did a little behind the scenes work and secured Secher a room here at Monte Carlo Bay for the rest of the week. A message from Secher to PokerStars: “Merci.”


Vincent Secher

Wednesday, the Top 40 will come back to this grand ballroom to play down to the final table of the Grand Final. Also beginning tomorrow, live coverage from the venerable EPT Live.

We will continue our live blogging of all the action beginning at 1pm local time (7am ET) Wednesday. Until then, we bid you adieu.


For a complete look back at all the day’s action, see any of the links below. When the tournament staff provides official standings, we’ll post them on the EPT Monte Carlo chip counts page.

Day 3 Full of Surprises
EPT Monte Carlo Level 13 Live Blog
EPT Monte Carlo Level 14 Live Blog
EPT Monte Carlo Level 15 Live Blog
EPT Monte Carlo Level 16 Live Blog
EPT Monte Carlo Level 17 Live Blog
Barry Greenstein wins Stars of Poker

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