Life on the European Poker Tour is like Darwin on fast-forward - with sixty-minute rounds and $10,000 stacks, even a few added levels in the blind structures cannot counteract the traditional manic play that characterizes the European game, and it's rare to see any meaningful breaks in the action from the first day of play to the final glorious all-in.
The second day of poker at the Polish Open was no exception, with the starting field of 134 quickly whittled down to an end of day total of 26 with only a brief slowdown occurring around the money bubble in the later levels of the night. Before and after, however, it was mad poker mayhem and the eliminations were nothing if not patently overwhelming.
Chipleader at the start of the day was one Robert Flink, who led the amalgamation between Days 1a and 1b with $113,300 to his name. Flink's performance on Day 1a of the tournament was impressive to say the least, but even he could not withstand the variance of high blinds and short-stacks and would wind up playing the benefactor throughout the early levels. He'd eventually succumb in the middle of the day's third level, ending his competition disappointingly early.
Also eliminated in the early going were short stacks Julian Thew and Andy Black was playing human roller-coaster and flirting perilously with another tragic blow-up. The Irishman, who'd built a towering stack during his first day of play, seemed to double up whoever needed doubling and then called off a large portion of his stack in a suspect hand with Christoffer Sonesson that saw him left with only five big blinds.
But Black would bounce back, doubling through his tablemates repeatedly and rebuilding a healthy stack while playing table captain and dominating the tournament floor with play-by-play from what he professed was the "Table of Death". He'd finish the day with around $90,000.
By the start of the eighth and final level of the evening only 34 players remained in the hunt, just two spots from the money. Michael Hogbom would lose a race with pocket eights against Dennis Petronack's A-J to induce hand-for-hand play and then Christiano Blanco would get all-in with pocket queens on a jack-high flop, only to see Kenneth Hicks turn an ace with Big Slick to end his day and burst the money bubble.
The bursting of the bubble meant that two players became co-holders of an impressive EPT record, as both Trond Eidsvig and Thierry van den Berg logged their fourth cash of the season with their in-the-money finishes in this event. Eidsvig leads van den Berg in terms of earnings this year, but the veteran claims superiority on the basis of his not playing in EPT Prague and thus duplicating Eidsvig's feat with one less tournament entered. We'll led you decide who has the more impressive accomplishment.
What followed was a mad rush to the exits, with short-stacks racing to pick up their guaranteed 28,720 PLN and beat the taxi queue on the way back out into the Warsaw evening. Capitalizing on the feeding frenzy was poker blogger-cum-poker pro Claus Neilsen, who dispatched first van den Berg and then Fredrick Haugen in two big back-to-back hands that saw him take a run at the chip lead as play wound down for the day.
Neilsen's $345,000 is good for second place among the 26 survivors at the end of Day 2, with Spain's Juan Maceiras earning top honors with $388,000. Among those most recognizable of the three tables who'll contest for a seat amongst the final eight tomorrow are Black, Andreas Hagen, Eidsvig and Craig "The Apple" Hopkins.
Action resumes tomorrow at 2 p.m. local time (8 a.m. Eastern/5 a.m. Pacific) and PokerListings.com will be there to guide you all the way down to the final table. Tune in for the thrilling almost-conclusion!