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Five former champs chase EPT double
PokerStars EPT Barcelona played down to 23 on the Mediterranean coast Monday with five former European Poker Tour champions retaining a shot at becoming the first two-time EPT winner in history.
2009 WSOP final tablist Georgios Kapalas holds the chip lead heading into the tournament's penultimate day.
However, his seat at the eight-person final table is far from guaranteed with former EPT champs Jan Boubli, Roland de Wolfe, Bertrand Grospellier, Jens Kyllonen, and Mike McDonald all breathing down his neck.
De Wolfe, who joined Team PokerStars Pro Gavin Griffin this summer as the only other player to hold EPT, World Poker Tour and World Series of Poker titles, said it's the chance to make history that motivates him to play tournaments in the first place.
"If I wanted to just focus on money I wouldn't come around and play these high variance tournaments, I would just find really big games and play cash all the time," said the 2006 EPT Irish Masters champ.
"Obviously, accomplishing feats that people haven't achieved in poker is really important to me.
"I was the first to win an EPT and a WPT and then the second to win the Triple Crown. Who knows where the game is going to be in 20 years, people might look back and look at us as trailblazers, the same way that people look back on Doyle Brunson today."
Kyllonen, who took down the EPT Scandinavian Open in Copenhagen, Denmark last season, said he'd rather be in De Wolfe's position, but he still relishes the opportunity to become the EPT's first repeat champion.
"I would rather win one of each, the WSOP, WPT and EPT, but I'll take the two EPT's if I win this one," he laughed.
There are two players who have managed to win both an EPT title and an EPT High Roller event - Jason Mercier and Grospellier.
Already considered one of the top tournament players in the world, Grospellier said adding another EPT title to his PokerStars Caribbean Adventure win in 2008 would mean a lot to him.
"If I can win that would be really good," he said. "I know there's still a long way to go, so I'm just trying to stay very focused and hopefully I can be the first to win two EPT's. We'll have to wait and see."
Like the aforementioned Mercier, who made sixth in Barcelona last season just a few months removed from his EPT San Remo win, McDonald had a legitimate shot to become the first multiple EPT main event winner when he came fifth at EPT Dortmund last season, the very same event he won in 2008.
The 19-year-old Canadian said the record didn't necessarily come to mind at the time, but he's definitely aware of it now.
"In Dortmund this year, when I had a close shot, I wasn't really thinking about it, but I was just mentioning to my friend last night that it would be pretty sweet to win two EPT's," he said. "And the way things are going, I don't mind my chances."
Boubli, who won this very event in 2005, is feeling just as confident.
"I want it of course," he said. "And I feel very good about my chances."
Organizers plan to play down from 23 to the eight-person final table Tuesday and PokerListings will be providing live coverage all day on our EPT Barcelona Live Updates page starting at 12:30 p.m. CEST.