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Graner Crushes, Big Three Bounced as EPT Prague Hits Final Table
The story coming into Day 5 at the 2014 EPT Prague Main Event was the looming presence in the Top 5 of Sam Grafton, Davidi Kitai and Vanessa Selbst.
The story coming out of Day 5 is undeniably Stephen Graner.
The American pro based out of Las Vegas stole all the thunder today as he ran to a huge chip lead and premium position to take home his first EPT title tomorrow.
Graner bagged up a massive stack of 12,405,000 with just six other players left standing between him and the 2014 EPT Prague championship.
Graner finished sixth in the Millionaire Maker this summer at the WSOP for $273k but the €969,000 on hand for the winner (barring a deal) would be far and away his biggest live score.
After some extended play to try and cut the field a bit shorter for tomorrow, just seven players remain instead of the usual eight.
Two Swedes, German Fabio Sperling and former EPT champ Remi Castaignon are still among them.
The final seven and chip counts:
- 1 Stephen Graner 12,405,000
- 2 Anton Bertilsson 7,740,000
- 3 Fabio Sperling 4,710,000
- 4 Bjorn Wiesler 3,285,000
- 5 Simon Mattsson 2,130,000
- 6 Jonathan Wong 1,900,000
- 7 Remi Castaignon 1,030,000
For a full recap of the day's action, check the PokerStars blog. Watch the EPT Live stream replay and tune in for the final table action tomorrow at 6 am ET right here.
Selbst, Grafton, Kitai All Fall Short
With Vanessa Selbst, Davidi Kitai and Sam Grafton all starting the day in the top 5 with just 22 players left, the smart money would be on at least one of them hanging on until the final table.
The smart money would have lost. All three had the tides turn against them and all went home before even the unofficial final table of nine.
Selbst was the first to go in 15th while Grafton met his demise in 12th when his shove with A7 ran into Graner's kings.
Belgian Kitai, perhaps the favorite to win it all, was clipped in 10th by Castaignon to leave the Frenchman the last EPT champ alive.
If Castaignon should come back from the short stack tomorrow to claim the title he'd be the first male player to claim two EPT wins.
One Champion, One Orbit – Davidi Kitai
Davidi Kitai won the EPT Berlin main event in 2012 for a little more than €700,000. He has also three WSOP bracelets and a WPT title. He leads the all-time Belgian money list and ranks as number four in the current GPI rankings.
He’s been at 11(!) final tables in 2014 and won two with live earnings now around $5.8 million.
This is one of the best tournament players poker has ever seen and having him on the penultimate day of the EPT Prague main event 2014 means he's the player to beat if you want to win the tournament.
We walked over to the one outer table still left and watched his play for one orbit.
Tournament situation: Level 26, blinds 20,000/40,000/5000; 15 players left, average stack 2.2 million.
Kitai holds around an average stack and there are seven players at the table. There are also a lot of railbirds, press and camera people around the table, but we pushed through to see the dealer move the button in front of him.
To Kitai’s left is Remi Castaignon, the only other former EPT champion left in the field, and to his right is the current chipleader Fabio Sperling.
Hand 1 – Button
It's folded around to Kitai who raises and takes the blinds and antes.
Hans 2-4 – Cut-off, Hijack, MP
Kitai folds these hands without a raise being played in front of him.
Hand 5 – UTG
Kitai raises to 85,000. From the Cut-off, Tamer Kamel pushes all-in for 400k. All the other players fold and Kitai makes the call.
Kitai shows 7♠ 7♣ and Kamel holds A♦ J♠. It’s a classic race.
The board runs out T♥ Q♦ 8♠ 6♦ 6♣ and Kitai busts Kamel.
Hand 6 – BB
There is a raise from Anton Bertilsson in early position, Francesco Grieco calls in middle position, Sperling re-raises out of the small blind and Kitai folds.
In this hand Bertilsson and Sperling moved all-in with the Swede’s A-T drawing a straight on the turn versus Sperling’s queens.
Hand 7 – SB
There is a raise from Francesco Grieco and Kitai folds.
Kitai lost a big pot shortly before we arrived at the table and he was playing rather cautiously.
Except stealing the blinds and antes from the button, he stayed away from any potential trouble. Instead he was looking for the flip and when the opponent was Tamer Kamel, with a way shorter stack, Kitai went for it and won.
By busting the Englishman Kitai moved over the average line again but ultimately it wasn't enough to keep him alive past 10th.
Decision of the Day
Today’s example is not from the EPT but from a smaller tournament. It is the start of the tournament and the first couple of hands have been played.
Suddenly a player shows up and claims somebody is sitting in his seat number 3. As a matter of fact it turns out that the player sitting there is at the wrong table.
As he has already played several hands and both lost and won chips, the floor is called.
The ruling: In a case like this the ruling is very simple. The player can keep his chips but he has to move to the right table.
It is not possible for him to just stay there and maybe swap places with the other player. The reason for that is that players could see that there are players at their table they are trying to avoid and then simply sit somewhere else and keep that new seat.
“It doesn’t happen very often," says our floorman in Prague, “but the point is it’s possible, and we have to be strict.”
Talking about strictness. We pushed this example a little further and asked what would happen if the player comes back from the break and sits down unknowingly at the wrong table and then plays with someone else’s chips.
The ruling here would be disqualification of the player. It doesn’t matter if the player has lost or won chips, the player would be disqualified. The dealer would then try to trace back the movement of the chips as closely as they can to minimize damage.
The stack of the disqualified player will stay on the table and become a running stack.