German young gun Fabio Sperling has the chip lead but three tough pros are breathing down his neck as the EPT Prague Main Event has shrunk to just 22 players.
An action-packed Day 4 in the Czech Republic today saw Sperling make a steady climb up the ranks before seizing the chip lead from second-place Stephen Graner late in the day.
Sperling, who won an Estrellas Poker Tour main event in April, bagged 4,357,00 to hold about a 1m-chip edge over Graner's 3,228,000 heading to the penultimate Day 5.
The next three spots, though, must give them some pause.
Grafton, Kitai and Selbst Challenge for Lead
When you're down to just 22 players in an EPT main event you expect some tough players to be involved. That's decidedly the case in Prague as three of the top five are highly talented pros with auspicious resumes.
Third overall in chips is boisterous Brit Sam Grafton, known for his exceptional Tweets, his live commentary, his recent appearance on PokerStars' Shark Cage and a GUKPT title in 2012.
Fourth overall is three-time WSOP bracelet winner and one of the most feared players in the world of poker, Davidi Kitai.
In fifth is PokerStars pro Vanessa Selbst, who rode a wild downswing early in the day right back up to over 2m in chips and a shot at her first EPT main event title.
Also still alive are Hungarian Andras Nemeth, EPT Deauville winner Remi Castaignon, Eureka main event winner Balasz Botond and Brit Tamer Kamel. The Top 10 and chip counts:
- 1 Fabio Sperling 4,357,000
- 2 Stephen Graner 3,228,000
- 3 Sam Grafton 2,610,000
- 4 Davidi Kitai 2,307,000
- 5 Vanessa Selbst 2,040,000
- 6 Miltiadis Kyriakides 1,900,000
- 7 Andras Nemeth 1,813,000
- 8 Bjorn Wiesler 1,504,000
- 9 Remi Castaignon 1,385,000
- 10 Tamer Kamel 1,304,000
For a full recap of the day's action, check the PokerStars blog. Watch the EPT Live replay and tomorrow's Day 5 live stream right here.
One Champion, One Orbit – Maxim Lykov
In 2009 Russian Max Lykov won the only EPT ever played in the Ukraine, beating 296 players and cashing for €330,000.
Today we paid a visit to the €10,300 High Roller Event that started up in Prague and found Lykov is one of about 250 players in this event.
For this orbit he was in Seat 8. Also at the table are Artur Koren from Germany and Canadian MTT machine Mike “Timex” McDonald.
The blinds are at 200/400/50 and the 27 year old player from Moscow is in the big blind.
Hand 1: BB
There's a raise from UTG+1 to 1,000. It's folded to Lykov, who calls. The flop is 3♠ Q♥ 5♣. Lykov takes the lead with a bet of 1,200 and his opponent calls.
The turn is the 3♥ and both players check. The 5♠ appears on the river. Again, both players check. Lykov shows pocket fours which is good enough as his opponent mucks.
Hand 2: SB
The same player now raises UTG. Again it's folded to Lykov but this time the Russian doesn’t feel like playing.
Hand 3: Button
Once more the table folds to Lykov. He raises from the button to 1k and gets a call from his nemesis in the big blind.
The flop falls 2♦ 7♥ 3♦. Lykov’s opponent checks and then calls a bet of 1,200. The turn J♦ is checked through but on the river 3♥ Lykov bets 2,600 and his opponent folds.
Hand 4: Cut-off
Lykov wants more action. He raises from the cut-off to 1,000 and Koren in the big blind somehow feels suspicious about this.
“Aces?” he says. “I’m out of this game.” He lays it down.
Hands 5-8: Hijack, MP, UTG+1 UTG
Lykov takes a break for the second half of the orbit and folds his hands.
During this orbit Lykov wins two hands post flop with decent-sized pots. As he’s already lost almost half of his starting stack he’s not taking any risks.
Still, in both cases he was right in thinking that he had the stronger hand. Pocket fours looked good on a board that showed only low cards except a queen. He was even able to get another bet out of his opponent.
In Hand 3 the flush draw completes on the turn and the board pairs on the river. That makes it very difficult for Lykov’s opponent to call a bet out of position.
Decision of the Day - Watch Your Cards
It's Day 4 of the EPT Prague Main Event. The button is on seat 1 and a hand has just been dealt.
After the action has moved half around the table the player on the button declares that he has only one card. He hadn’t noticed it before because he hadn’t checked his cards.
Turns out that the player in the small blind has three cards. Accidentally, he must have taken one of the cards from his neighbor. The player on the button asks to get a random card from the remaining deck while nobody is exactly sure what to do with the small blind player.
The floor is called.
The ruling: The player on the button is not getting the top card from the deck. Also, it wouldn’t be in accordance with the rules to just remove one card from the hand of the small blind player.
In addition to that these two players already have seen several players at the table act, which gives them a lot of information. It's the player’s responsibility to protect his hand.
The floorman decides that the hands of both players are dead. All four cards go back into the deck and the two players get new cards. The action continues where it was before the incident.