If the first two days of play at Eureka Prague was about watching the number of entrants rise (to a record breaking 652 no less) then today was about seeing how far that number would fall. We knew it would drop lower than 72 (the number of players who'd get paid) and when eight levels of play had ended exactly half the pay out spots had been filled as just 36 players remained from the 176 who started Day 2.
As for the order of the 36 still to be filled, in what order no one can say. It's anyone's tournament is a bit of a cliché but tonight the top five players are separated by less than three big blinds. It really is too close to call.
By virtue of a lead of just six thousand Daniel Havlik is the nominal chip leader with 603,500 but he's closely followed by Mariusz Klosinski (597,500), Tamas Olah (587,500) ,Matias Knaapinen (586,500) and Bernd Vogelhuber (581,000). Had the tournament staff deigned to play a final five hands instead of the nominated three, their respective finishing positions could well have been different.
But the boys won't have it all their own way tomorrow, as the prospect of a first female champion on the Eureka Poker Tour is alive and kicking. It's being led by Team PokerStars Pro Ana Marquez, she'll be back tomorrow with 263,000 - right on average. "Today went pretty well, I just gradually chipped up, it wasn't a rollercoaster. I also won a massive flip with ace-king against pocket tens so I'm happy with how it went," she told me.
PokerStars Qualifier Hana Soljan is also still in, she'll return with 147,500, with blinds at 4,000 - 8,000 ante 500 she's got plenty to play with.
Of course along the way today we lost some big names, Roberto Romanello and Steven van Zadelhoff, were just two of the familiar faces who hit the rail. Another familiar face was sweating the bubble extremely hard. Eureka Croatia champion Alija Filipovic was third on the Eureka Season 2 Leader board coming into this tournament, but with those above him busting or not participating he knew a min-cash would take him to the top of the leader board and potentially earn him an EPT9 Main Event seat worth €5,300.
In fact he did rather better than min-cash, only busting out right near the end of the day, his 39th place finish was good for €3,160 and potentially more. Points are available in side events so he's got a bit of sweat on to wait and see if any of his rivals can catch him.
The final 36 will return from noon to play down to the final of eight, they've all locked up €3,160 but will be looking upwards to the €140,000 on offer to the champion. To see the entire payout structure and who won what today click here. Overnight chip counts and the seat draw will be posted as soon as they are available so keep an eye on the blog for them.
To catch up with today's action click on the links below, but for now it's good night from Prague.
All photos are copyright of Tomas Stacha