We got underway at the usual 2 p.m. today with four tables of eight, and with PokerListings.com not having egg on our collective faces because of one bold, Oden-esque prediction the night before. Chip leader at the start of the day was Ireland's Andy Black, who did his best Chad Brown impression by dominating Day 3's play.
Black was joined by the likes of Gavin Griffin, Carlos Mortensen, Marc Karam, Josh Arieh, Pete Giordano and Ram Vaswani, as well as a host of European names and online qualifiers, including England's Dean Sanders, who won his seat in an online freeroll and who came into the day second in chips having managed to parlay a nice combination of skilled play and necessary luck into a guaranteed €26,500, plus all the €20 cheeseburgers he could eat.
Almost as soon as the day began, two of the bigger pros still in contention saw their fortunes begin to fade dramatically. One would rebound to stay alive, while the other would take an early exit.
Andy Black and Josh Arieh both found themselves at the feature table to start the day, and it seemed like if one of them wasn't losing his chips in a hand, the other was shipping a big pot across the table. Black lost two six-figure pots to Alex Kim ($200,000) and Roi Elmaliah ($130,000), doubling the latter up after calling his all-in with A-6 against A-10.
Black would continue to struggle throughout the early part of the day, losing a $450,000 pot to Marc Karam not long afterwards, but the Exuberant One would seem to always manage to keep his head above water, winning his chips back with fortuitous flops and daring moves.
One such maneuver was his daring bluff on Alexander Kim, with Black re-raising Kim's $75,000 wager on a board of 10-10-6-6 and implying he was ready to put the young American all-in. Kim thought the matter through before folding, and Black, clearly proud of himself, showed a pocket pair of treys for two pair, tens and sixes, with a three kicker. The crowd went wild, but Kim was not amused.
Arieh, on the other hand, would not be so lucky. In the span of two hands with Philip Hilm, the Team Bodog.com pro would go from classy to ashy to out of there, first doubling up his Danish opponent with an unorthodox call of K-5 against Hilm's aces, and then hitting the bricks when his set of nines fell to Hilm's queen-high straight. Arieh took home €26,550 for his efforts.
Eliminations occurred at a pretty regular pace throughout the first few levels, with Philip Hilm keeping his foot on the gas with a strange double elimination that saw him call two all-ins with A♠ 6♠ and then flop the nut flush to send Johannes Strassmann and Simon Johansson to the rail.
Just before dinner, the freeroll came to an end for Dean Sanders in the cruelest of fashions. Sanders got his money in on a flop of 10-9-6 with 8-7 for the nut straight and was called by Marc Karam, who showed 10-9 for top two pair. Karam could win with a full-house, and he got his boat, but not with a ten or a nine. The board finished out with running sixes for a strange backdoor full-house, and Sanders left as miserable as a bubble boy, not at all satisfied with the way in which he'd been consigned to his €33,180.
The after-dinner rush claimed Christian Neirinck, Philip Hilm and Jan Veit, and also marked the ascension of Gavin Griffin to the top of the chip leader board, as the 2004 WSOP bracelet winner scooped huge pots from Erik Van Der Berg ($300,000) and Ram Vaswani ($500,000) to build his stack to over $2 million.
Then the rush was over, and players slogged through nearly three more levels busting an average of two players per, with Pete "The Beat" Giordano and Carlos Mortensen both hitting the bricks, both players falling to American Josh Prager, who twice rivered a club flush to bounce his professional opponents. Giordano receives €49,770 and Mortensen €66,630 in the losing cause.
After Mortensen's elimination in 11th it didn't take long for the final two bust-outs to occur, as Alexander Kim and Erik Van Der Berg obliged their tired companions by getting their money in quickly and, in the latter's case, taking a crummy beat to end the proceedings. Van Der Berg got all-in with A-Q against Soren Kongsgaard's A-5, only to see the Lesser Dane river the spade flush (notice a pattern?), thus logging the final elimination of the day.
And so the final table was set, with Gavin Griffin taking $2,597,000 and the chip lead to the final table, followed by Marc Karam with $1,742,000, Kongsgaard with $1,612,000, and Prager with $1,593,000. The rest of table is made up of Kristian Kjondal, Steve Jelinek, Andy Black and Hendon Mobster Ram Vaswani, with Black and Vaswani the shortest stacks at the table.
Action heats up again at 4 p.m. Monte Carlo time, which is 10 a.m. (EDT) and 7 a.m. (PDT). As usual, PokerListings.com will be there from wire to wire bringing you the livest updates in the business, with a few stale puns and some obscure pop-culture references thrown in. If that doesn't sound inviting, it should; PokerListings.com is like sugar for your breakfast cereal and caffeine for your coffee cup, and with a final table like this around, you literally need to be here.