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Chasing the EPT Barcelona crown
While the numbers dwindled at breakneck speed on Day 2 of PokerStars EPT Barcelona, two young Americans began cementing their reputations as legitimate threats to win the whole thing.
By the time play wrapped just 72 players remained, the money bubble had burst and Canadian PokerStars qualifier Matt Lapossie held the chip lead on over 700k.
However, 20-year-old Carter Phillips did hold that spot for most of the day and will return for Day 3 Monday amongst the leaders.
Instead of the standard series of coolers and set-ups a typical rise to EPT glory is usually littered with, Phillips' run has included a river call for his tournament life with just king high.
"I just had a really good read on the guy," he told PokerListings. "The way he was acting led me to believe he really had nothing at all. It just felt right."
Sick call aside, Phillips is hoping his experience on the PokerStars European Poker Tour last season will pay dividends here in Spain.
"I've had some big stacks and I lost pots for the chip lead in Monte Carlo and San Remo, both near the money bubble," he explained.
"So I've had experience with big stacks before and just kind of blew them and I'm hoping that past experience will help me with whatever comes my way here."
26-year-old Matt Woodward took the chip lead early on Day 2 before Phillips, Lapossie and a host of others began to make massive waves.
The Waterboro, Maine native, who finished second at the PokerStars EPT 5 Grand Final this past April, still sits within striking distance and is also hoping experience will help him along the way.
"I've been slowly gaining more and more tournament experience over the past couple of years," he told PokerListings. "The first four or five years of my poker career I was just focusing on Limit Hold'em cash games, so I wasn't giving myself all that many opportunities in tournaments and I was a bit out of my element when I played them.
"I feel like my tournament game has really improved over the last couple of years, as has my overall poker game. I've just kind of become more focused and tried to be as professional about my career as I can."
After following up his Monte Carlo performance with a final table appearance at the 2009 WSOP this summer, Woodward seems poised to take his tournament game to the next level.
"All the tournament experience that I've had and all the time I've spent talking with friends about hands has started to pay off," he explained. "I think I have really improved and I credit a lot of my success to my ability to focus, my desire to win and my competitiveness."
It won't be an easy road for Phillips and Woodward, however.
A host of top pros remain in contention, including Marc Goodwin, Mike "Timex" McDonald, Roland de Wolfe, and Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier.
To follow PokerListings' comprehensive coverage of EPT Barcelona, click through to our Live Tournaments page for Day 3 beginning at 12:30 p.m. CEST Monday when they will play down to the final 24.
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