We'd love to say we told you so, but when we wrote yesterday of the bustification frenzy that characterizes most every EPT event, even the poker oracles at PokerListings.com couldn't have foretold the incredible pace of eliminations that saw the third day of play in the dungeon of the Hyatt Regency Warsaw last about as long your typical action flick. The field was reduced from 26 to a final table of nine over barely two levels of action.
Spain's Juan Maceiras came into the day chip leader, joining poker blogger Claus Nielsen as the only two players with more than $300,000 to play with. With the average stack worth almost 28 big blinds, however, the rest of the field (which included the likes of Andy Black, Andreas Hagen, Trond Eidsvig and Craig "The Apple" Hopkins) should have had ample time to mount an assault at the top of the chip leaderboard.
Instead, players self-busticated as though they'd heard the Soviets were coming back to town. The first 60 minutes alone saw 10 players eliminated as the post-bubble cleanup of short stacks resulted in a rush to the cashier's table and unbridled joy in the media center four stories above the dungeon, where journalists used to 12-hour work days dared to contemplate the idea of an evening out of doors.
The journalists would get their sunlight, as the breakneck pace of play meant that even with a 2 p.m. start, the day's work was done by 5:30 or so. Most of the field, however, would find themselves set loose upon an unsuspecting Polish populace with zloty in their hands and celebration on their minds, and the rest of us can only wonder about the afternoon spent by such early eliminations as Raul Paez and Andreas Hagen, the first two players out of the gates and recipients of 28,720 PLN in beer money.
The most notable name to survive to Day 3 was the aforementioned Black, who'd played roller-coaster with his stacks on Days 1b and 2 but managed to survive into the money. Perhaps spurred by the desire to get back to his native Ireland in time for some St. Patrick's Day cheer, however, poker's biggest Eminem fan would hit the end of the road early on Day 3, busting out in 24th place at the hands of Craig Hopkins when his Q-J failed to improve against the Apple's A-5. The Irishman earned 43,080 PLN to add to the green beer fund.
Day 1b chip leader Dan Bitsch Pedersen, American Kenneth Hicks Jr. and sole Pole survivor Janusz Peltic (among many others) would also be eliminated in the first mad rush to daylight, with all players earning payouts matching Black's 43,080 PLN (about $18,000 USD) for their efforts.
Then it was the Apple's turn to spoil, as Hopkins got into a raising war with Ricardo Sousa that eventually saw the Englishman all-in and his Portuguese associate willing to race with queens against Hopkins' A-K. The board brought naught but a queen on the turn and with his set of ladies Sousa banished Hopkins to the rail. The Apple takes 43,080 PLN of his own back to the orchard for his 18th-place finish.
And yeah, then Christoffer Sonersson had his aces cracked by Michael Schulze and was out in 17th place and that was the end of the first level. Two tables remained after the increase in blinds and it would take barely 60 more minutes to reduce that number to one.
First out the gate was Seppo Parkkinen, gone when his A-6 ran into Sousa's pocket nines. Then Willian Johnson got all-in on a Q-8-4 flop with top pair and ran into Sousa's set of fours. Both eliminatees earned 57,440 PLN for their time while their Portuguese rival continued to augment his healthy stack.
While Sousa was playing exterminator at his table, Germany's Michael Schulze was doing a little destroying of his own a few feet away. Schulze sent Jari-Pekka Juhola home in 14th place in a hand that saw the Finn all-in with A-7 against Schulze's K-K. The flop came K-7-3 and Schulze hit his set, but another seven on the turn at least made things interesting. The river, however, brought the case king, giving Schulze the quads and sending Juhola to the rail.
Then Schulze would send eccentric Italian Antonio Battisti packing in 12th place in a $600,000 pot that saw the two competitors racing with T♦ T♠ and A♠ J♠ respectively. The board would miss both players and the tens held, busting Battisti and giving Schulze claim to the top of the chip leaderboard.
Fiery French player Juan-Claude Perrot would be eliminated at the end of the day's second level, meaning only 10 players were left on two tables coming out of the first break. With Polish gaming laws prohibiting the EPT from filming this event, our final table will be nine-handed, and thus all but one player was guaranteed a return ticket to the dungeon on Saturday.
It wouldn't take long for that final elimination, as with six minutes and 54 seconds gone in the day's third level Juan Maceiras raised to $26,000 in early position and saw Schulze flat-call from the cut-off before Claus Nielsen moved his last $230,000 into the middle from the small blind. Maceiras got out of the way but Schulze was game to gamble, calling with J♥ J♦ to Nielsen's A♥ K♥.
The flop was disastrous for Nielsen, coming Q♦ 9♦ 4♦, and after the turn was the 6♦ Schulze had the diamond flush and his rival was drawing dead. The J♠ on the river made it official and Nielsen was out in 10th place, the winner of 122,060 PLN and mad respeck in the press room but the unlucky final-table bubble boy.
That final table will kick off at 2 p.m. local time from the Hyatt Regency Warsaw and PokerListings.com will be on hand to make sure no funny business goes down without our express written consent. Given the precedent set so far this week we expect the action should last between 12 and 14 minutes, tops, so set your alarms and follow along for what promises to be a scintillating end to our week of bad Polish puns.
Since you asked, here are the final-table seating positions and chip counts:
|Seat 1||Trond Eidsvig||$220,000|
|Seat 2||Christian Oman||$110,000|
|Seat 3||Mehdi Ouakhir||$360,000|
|Seat 4||Niclas Svensson||$174,000|
|Seat 5||Daniel Woolson||$164,000|
|Seat 6||Juan Maceiras||$437,000|
|Seat 7||Michael Schulze||$1,162,000|
|Seat 8||Ricardo Sousa||$756,000|
|Seat 9||Mathias Viberg||$229,000|