The European Poker Tour main event in San Remo rumbled on this afternoon, 165 players returning for Day 3, the day during which the money bubble would burst. By the close that field would be reduced to just 60.
After five quick levels, Italian Roberto Spada is the leader with 1,441,000 chips at what is effectively the halfway point of the event, the latest player to hold that lofty position, and one of several who held it today.
Chip leader Roberto Spada
Spada's lead is slender, with both Nicolas Yunis, from the United States, and Team PokerStars Pro Max Lykov, from Russia, in second place, equally chipped on 1,416,000 apiece.
Spada had an eventful day, surviving the bubble after defending his big blind against Ruben Visser. Visser had attacked on every street but Spada held firm, check calling all the way and check-called all-in with top pair on the river. Perhaps Visser himself put it best on Twitter.
"Sigh 3 barreled AT on KJ926 om stone bubble. Guy called for his stack with KQ, owned?"
The lead had started in the hands of Greek player Georgious Manousos, but his advantage was soon stripped away. First, EPT Berlin runner-up Max Heinzelmann breached the million mark, but his was a lead that lasted just minutes, big pots turning the German's day into one of survival.
Paolo Rigano (1,324,000 at the close) then took his turn, having taken chips in a big pot from Heinzelmann (614,000), before Max Lykov appeared with chips up to his chin. Looking for a potential winner? The former champion, well-armed and well tested in the sharp end of high stakes poker, might be a good place to start.
While Spada serves as tonight's headline, the bubble dominated the early stages, coming in the first level of play and sending reigning EPT Grand Final champion Nicolas Chouity to the rail empty-handed.
Nicolas Chouity (sitting at the table, right)
With Chouity gone, and the prospect of financial drought now averted, the eliminations soon began to flow. Double NAPT winner Vanessa Selbst busted in 136th. Her fellow Team PokerStars Pro Ruben Visser, himself a former chip leader, went in 124th.
John Eames (120th) and Ramzi Jelassi (115th) followed, as did EPT Prague champ Roberto Romanello in 110th. Diego Brunelli on Team Online fell short of the top 100 in 102nd.
John Eames, departing
Team PokerStars Pro Victor Ramdin's spin-up from next-to-nothing on opening day ended in 90th, while foreign raiders Casey Kastle and Ted Forrest busted in 83rd and 82nd respectively.
They each represented a reversal to the earlier trend of big names making headway in San Remo, faces recognisable to the enthusiastic railbird kept at bay by a row of chairs and a security guard armed to the teeth. In the last hands of the day Carter Phillips, Russell Carson and Kevin Vandersmissen would push past them on the way to the door.
History buffs can still take satisfaction from David Vamplew's performance; the young Scot chasing title number two. Joe Cada, a former World Champion no less, would no doubt prefer a European repeat of his Las Vegan antics two years ago. Other players of note include Fabrice Soulier (710,000), on course for a second deep run in succession, as well as Team PokerStars Pro Richard Toth (185,000) and Xuan Liu (350,000).
Read about their Day 3, and the fate of the 60 surviving players, at the links below. You can also find the current chip counts on the official page, and the seat draw for Day 4 at the appropriate link (up the page and turn right).
That's all from San Remo today. Our thanks to our foreign bloggers, writing in Kayardild, Ter Sami, and all six tenses of Votic. Our thanks also to photographer Neil Stoddart, snapper of all images used today.
We're now going to sit outside a cafe and try to look sophisticated, just as soon as we ditch Rick Dacey.