We began with 40 optimistic poker enthusiasts but, as cruel as it may be, the process of a poker tournament dictates that many must fall in exchange for the glory of a few. There was only room in the payout structure for 24 places so 16 would be headed home empty-handed, busted within site of the cash. In just a few short levels we found the number of casualties growing and the money bubble looming.
On the very first hand of the day we had an elimination. A truly short-stacked Surinder Sunar, Roman Yitzhaki and Alex Kravchenko, and we were down to the final two tables. Hungary's Denes Tamas Kalo had a commanding lead at the time, followed closely by Julian Thew. There were a few short stacks clinging to life, namely Michael Durrer and Age Spets, who would be hard-pressed to find a seat at the final table without a whole lot of help from the cards.
The eliminations proceeded uninterrupted and, to the chagrin of the French fans, Pascal Perrault was among them. A veritable fixture deep in EPT events, Perrault was yet another victim of the juggernaut also known as Julian Thew. A battle of the blinds saw the Frenchman get his money in drawing very thin with A-Q against Thew's pocket aces. This time Thew benefited from the best hand holding up and Pascal became another of the growing number of notches on the Englishman's belt.
Age Spets, barely clinging to life, saw his stack dwindle even further before being dispatched by Vladimir Poleshchuk. He shipped what few chips he had left in but was unable to show down the best hand. Staying true to Spets form he made his exit with an ear-to-ear grin and handshakes all around.
Not long after that we found ourselves left with just 10 players, all desperately seeking one of the seats at tomorrow's final table. Unfortunately for PokerStars, it was one of their sponsored players who would be left by the wayside on the road to the final eight. Sebastian Ruthenberg, who final-tabled last season's EPT Dortmund main event, was crippled after losing a pre-flop all-in with Anton Allemann and sent packing on the next hand by Thierry Van Den Berg.
Only one more elimination was needed and we weren't kept in suspense for long. Both Gunnar Rabe and Ted Lawson were very short at the time, with about $75,000, but it would be Rabe who paved the way to the final table with his elimination. Gunnar got his money in good with pocket tens to Manfred Hammer's Q♠ T♠ but an inside straight hit on the turn and would prove to be his undoing.
And just like that we were done and the remaining eight players had their spots on television locked up. For a run-down of the official chip counts and seating charts for tomorrow's festivities, as well as detailed reports of all the action that transpired today, simply surf our Live Updates page. For details on all the players who cashed, cruise on over to our Results Page. And finally, for the vivid photographic record of the afternoon, please peruse our Photo page.
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