While a late start time seems like a wonderful thing for both media and players visiting the area, it has proved to have some less than thrilling consequences for the play-down to the final table. With a field of just 226 no one seemed too concerned about making it down to the final six by the end of Day 3. Both Day 1 heats consisted of just six levels, and the tournament staff was confident enough to increase the levels from 60 to 75 minutes at the beginning of Day 2.
Starting this evening with 151 players, a few members of the media were a bit skeptical when we were told that 27 was the goal for the night. Seemingly unfazed by the prospect of having to lose 124, the staff continued with their aforementioned plans while assuring players they would be out of here in either six or seven levels.
Partway into the evening though, it became apparent this would be difficult to achieve and so the schedule was amended by something as simple as an announcement made over the P.A. system. Instead of the previously decided-upon end time for the tournament, we would play until after 4 a.m. and instead of the 75 minutes the players had just gotten used to we would revert to the original 60.
While play could have been terminated at any time, the real consequences would not have been seen until tomorrow evening when we will have to make it down to the final six. The main reason for all the urgency is that the final table of this event is being held in a town about two hours to the north, near the French border, and for obvious reasons we need to decide on the final-table participants before making the commute.
Tomorrow's blog will reveal more about the mystical destination to which we'll be journeying but for now I will tell you that it is being played in a castle. Resplendent with suits of armor, turrets and, fingers crossed, a moat, it will certainly be one of the most interesting settings for a final table that we've seen to date.
Surviving the two Day 1 flights was a veritable battery of big-name pros but by the end of the night the number of familiar faces had shrunk to just a handful. With players representing countries far and wide here in Spain, this event seemed much more in keeping with the spirit of a true world tour of poker.
Over the course of the day we saw the chip lead exchange hands numerous times, and on every occasion it was a representative of a new nation taking over the honors. Finishing on top overall after both Day 1 heats had concluded was Maurizo Carra. By the end of the night though, that name was nowhere to be found on the chip counts.
Sweden's Christer Johansson, winner of the WPT Season 1 Grand Prix de Paris, was more than happy to take over the role of chip leader and, unlike his predecessor, he would finish out the evening with a more than healthy stack. Next in line was the renowned Danish superstar Gus Hansen, who built up an impressive stack before rocketing past Johansson courtesy of a massive pre-flop all-in confrontation with Jean-Claude Perrot.
After a series of raises and re-raises, all the money ended up in the middle with pocket aces for Hansen and pocket kings for Perrot. Standard fare for all involved, the board changed nothing and the behemoth of a pot was shipped to the Great Dane. Tipping the scales at close to $240,000 at the time, Hansen was not destined to hold onto those chips for long as we saw one last big shift in the leader board before the night was over.
Sitting two seats to Hansen's right for the latter portion of the evening was Steve Sung. A California native and fixture in the card rooms of Los Angeles and Las Vegas, Sung was one of many like him who made the trip across the pond to take part in this event.
While he and Gus had been clashing regularly up to this point, those skirmishes were all mere precursors to the event in question.
It began with Sung limping into the pot and Hansen coming in for a raise, with blinds at $1,200/$2,400. The flop came down 9♥ 5♣ 3♣ and Sung checked the action to Gus. Hansen followed suit and they both saw the T♠ on the turn for free. Sung led out for $17,000 and Gus only took a few moments before announcing all-in. Hansen, being the chip leader at the time, had Sung covered but it was still a massive re-raise as Steve had close to $100K behind.
After a bit of time in the tank Sung called and saw he had made a great read as his pocket kings had Hansen's A-T crushed going to the river. Fifth street was a blank and Steve Sung raked the biggest pot of the tournament so far, more than $250,000.
Although we didn't quite reach the money, which kicks in at 27, we did manage to pare the field down to 39 by the time the chips went in the bags. As I mentioned earlier, tomorrow we will be playing down to the final six, no matter what.
For a look at the chip leaders going forward, as well as a comprehensive inventory of the day's action, simply click through to our Live Updates page. The action is slated to begin again at 5 p.m. at which time we'll take the first steps down that long and winding road which ends at the final table. We'd hate for you to get lost trying to navigate it on your own, so as always I implore you, let PokerListings.com be your guide and we'll make sure you arrive safe and sound. After all, that's what we're here for.