Forty-five players returned to cross swords in the grandiose Barrière Casino today aiming to make their mark on EPT history by reaching the final table of PokerStars' EPT Deauville.
It was a day packed with excitement and intrigue, and despite the deep-ish stacks that the EPT structure afforded at this stage, the action galloped along at a breakneck pace.
With €851,400 the attractive first prize on offer for the winner here in France, no quarter was given as the players tore into each other, raising and reraising each other frequently, making their deep stacks look decidedly shallower.
In a field largely shorn of big names but full of local French talent, Michel Abecassis was perhaps the most recognizable Frenchman remaining on the roster. But his tournament was brought to a premature end midway through the day, his top pair losing out to his opponent's big flush and straight draw.
The biggest name pro left in the competition, none other than David Ulliott, has experienced a blistering start to the poker year, picking up two titles already, including the €5,000 NLHE Diamond Championship in Paris just a week ago.
Ulliott was looking to build on this impressive run of form, and came into the day handily placed. Despite his stack rising imperiously in the early stages, however, he proved unable to keep the pace up, succumbing just outside the top 20 ... but not before he had delivered some classic Devilfish one-liners to entertain his many fans on the rail.
One Frenchman was singled out by those in the know as a man to watch, the 19-year-old Tristan Clemencon belying his youthful age with a mature performance full of controlled aggression that saw him slide effortlessly through to the final table poised for EPT glory with the chip lead.
Tristan has carved out a strong reputation as a good online tournament player, under the moniker superroger47, and if his performance here is indicative of his talent, he will be a famous name for years to come in the live arena too.
Another relative unknown, German Moritz Kranich, also used his skills well to accumulate a big stack and despite his inexperience at this level, he survived a few shaky moments to come through the day just behind Clemencon in second place.
Andrea Benelli, Jorn Walthaus, Arnaud Esquevin, Jonathan Azoulay, Bruno Launais and Thomas Delattre complete the lineup for the final table.
Full chip counts and positions can be found by clicking here.
With such a huge first prize on offer, we can expect a highly competitive final to play out, and tomorrow promises to add one more action-packed page to the annals of EPT history. Given the paucity of big names involved, we are guaranteed to be crowning a brand-new EPT champion in less than 24 hours.
Join us tomorrow for the thrilling finale to the day, where we will bring you all the action, delivered in our uncompromising PokerListings style.
Au revoir mes amis!