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EPT Vilamoura: Lellouche or Sarwer, take your pick

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Yesterday we reported how Antony Lellouche and Jeff Sarwer were once again setting the benchmark for a successful day on an EPT, just as they had a few weeks earlier in Warsaw.

Well, not a lot has changed since then.

Tonight those two are still the leaders - all they did was swap places at the top. Yesterday it was Sarwer, today Lellouche.

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Antony Lellouche

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Jeff Sarwer

Lellouche (1,134,000 chips) and Sarwer (913,500 chips) were today's draw for reporters, and their progress seemed to directly affect everyone else. If either of them sneezed the players at their tables got colds and most of the time that meant another empty seat. By the whistle the closest stacks to them belonged to Ricardo Sousa (765,000) and the Team PokerStars Pro Ruben Visser (749,000).

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Ruben Visser

Taking place around them was the process of going from 69 players to 24. It's often hard to predict how long that will take, but today it was as if the tournament floor had been lifted up at one end, sending players sliding uncontrollably towards the payout desk.

Within two levels we'd reached the bubble, the Russian player Sergey Lebedev claiming the dubious honour of bubble boy before the first hand-for-hand shuffle. With that popped we set a course for a final 24 and we reached that before 6pm, just half an hour after the sun set over the Algarve. There are still signs of daylight out there.

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So who else got a pat on the back today?

Matt Johns had a breakthrough day at his first EPT event. The PokerStars qualifier finished on 374,000 after recovering from an earlier blow, and ultimately brought the day to a close when he busted Nicolo Calia in 25th place, flopping a straight against Calia's set of kings. Joao Barbosa secured his eighth EPT cash, bagging up 362,000 tonight. Team PokerStars Pro's new boy Jude Ainsworth continues his excellent debut. Ainsworth returns tomorrow with 491,000, joined by team mate Ruben Visser with 749,000. Jan Skampa is within sight of the leaders with 562,000, as is Claudio Coelho on 508,500.

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Matt Johns

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Jude Ainsworth

Flip the success coin for the list of today's eliminations, one that includes Andy Black, Alex Kravchenko, Johannes Strassmann, Johan van Til, Ljubomir Josipovic, Martin Wendt, Stefan Mattsson and Ross Boatman among others. You can find how much each of them cashed, if anything, at the prize winners and payouts page as well as all today's scores on the chip count page, which is the only place to find the official counts for all 24 remaining players.

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Martin Wendt

In the meantime feel free to catch up on everything that happened today at the links below:

Level 14
Level 15
Level 16
Level 17

Our thanks to Neil Stoddart for the photography, including the three faces of Jan Heitmann, and you can find all the video blogs you like at PokerStars.tv. They're still celebrating the fact that the video blog curse has not struck Matt Johns.

That's it for today. Now it's on to day four, where we wrench up the excitement levels again and close in on the final table: from 24 players to a last eight.

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Can Sarwer and Lellouche put their Warsaw demons behind them and reach that final? Or will a local man make a legend of himself in front of a home crowd? Find out when the action begins at noon GMT tomorrow. And if you need something for the time in between then there's action from the LAPT in Costa Rica right now.

Cheerio.

***
Here's something to ease you into the night. It's a football match between Germany and Spain, Team PokerStars Pro style:

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