Despite the 1 p.m. start time penciled onto the schedule for each day we've encountered delays getting the cards in the air. On Day 1a the 214 players hadn't even made it into the building by 1 p.m. let alone found their seats at the felt. Day 1b fared a little better with action getting underway before 2 and today was the best yet with action commencing right around 1:30 p.m.
At the afternoon's onset it was decreed by the tournament staff that there was a chance we would not be playing the previously scheduled eight levels as a new target had been set, to reach 40 players before the day was done. Starting with 142 it seemed likely that it would take a substantial amount of time to hit that mark but as the afternoon progressed, with eliminations coming faster than we could track them, an early night appeared all the more likely.
As previously mentioned players experienced some big swings in the chip stack department. France's Nicolas Levi began Day 2 as chip leader but, as in so many tournaments, even the chip lead was no guarantee of survival. He saw his stack take heavy damage before he was eliminated well short of the end of play.
In one particularly pivotal hand for Levi he attempted to execute a pre-flop move on the only female player still left in the field, Katja Svendsen of Norway. It began with Levi limping into the pot, with blinds of $1,000/$2,000, and Svendsen raising to $11,000. When the action got back to the Frenchman he put in a huge re-raise, making it $77,000 to go. Svendsen was not to be bullied though and threw it back in his face, moving all-in for roughly $70,000 more. Having priced himself into the call Levi deposited the difference in the pot on the way to a showdown.
When Levi saw what he was up against it was obvious he had picked the wrong time to get fancy. Svendsen tabled pocket aces which were, surprise surprise, in good shape against Levi's K♥ J♥. A king hit the flop but that was as close as he would come to cracking his opponent's bullets. Levi was unable to make a comeback after taking this blow and will therefore not be joining us for tomorrow's festivities.
Two other players who took up a bit more of the limelight than most, and who just happened to be members of Team Surinder Sunar. After getting the money in before the flop with Haugen well covered by Sunar, Haugen's pocket aces didn't need to improve against his adversary's pocket queens, just hold up. Nevertheless, the turn and river both came bullets, adding insult to injury and taking a small bite out of Sunar's stack.
Although Sunar experienced a bit of a hiccup in this confrontation with Haugen, he chipped up late and proceeded to take down the biggest pot of the tournament on the last hand of the night. Eliminating Liam Flood and crippling Ben Grundy.
Having made it down to 41 players we were waiting patiently for the last elimination of the night. Little did we know a bombshell was about to go off that would change the landscape of this event in a big way, catapulting Surinder Sunar to uber-chip-leader status.
The hand started with Liam Flood, who was on about $48,000, raising to $8,400 from middle position with blinds of $1,200/$2,400. Sunar made the call on the button and Erik Friberg also joined the pot from the big blind. The flop came out 9♠ 8♣ 4♠ and after a check from Friberg, Flood moved all-in for his remaining $40K.
Sunar spent a few moments quizzically shuffling his chips before smooth-calling the bet. Friberg only thought for about three seconds before announcing all-in. Without even bothering to ask for a count Surinder insta-called, turning over pocket nines for top set.
Friberg saw he was in for a world of hurt with his pocket fours drawing to a one-outer. Liam Flood was already packing up to go as his A♦ K♣ was drawing stone dead. The crush of media, spectators and players from other tables was difficult to withstand but we fought for position as the board finished out 7♥ 3♠ and the dealer and floorman attempted to sort out the gargantuan pot.
It was unclear whether Sunar had Friberg covered but in the end we saw the Swede was left with just $7,000 to his name.
So going forth it is Surinder Sunar in a dominating position with $403,400, almost 10% of the total chips in play. Considering that the average stack for the final table will be only slightly higher than this it seems inevitable that Sunar will be occupying one of the final eight seats.
As we saw today though, nothing is certain in poker and not even a massive chip lead can guarantee you a spot in the money. We'll be back in action again at 1 p.m. (BST) tomorrow so you'll have to tune in to find out for yourself. PokerListings.com will be there every step of the way, refusing to relinquish our stranglehold on live tournament coverage until the final hand is dealt and the first-place cash awarded. We hope you'll be there with us.