"Where's my second bag?"
This was Ronny Kaiser, chip leader of the EPT Tallinn main event when time was called tonight. The aptly named king was the first player to top the seven figure mark, using two bags to pack up 1,100,000 chips after a day spent at the toughest table of the tournament so far.
Kaiser seized the lead with 25 players remaining, in what proved a thrilling hand against Liutauras Armanavicius, in which Kaiser cracked the Lithuanian's aces.
Armanavicius, who had hardly put a foot wrong all week, five-bet shoved for his stack of 300,000. Kaiser called with his jacks and looked destined to be struck down. Not so, the board awarding Kaiser a straight on the river.
It was the highlight of a day Kaiser had spent on a table befitting a Grand Final, with Jeff Sarwer, Sami Kelopuro, Larry Sihvo and Jani Sointula competing with him for chips.
But with an arm slung backwards for the massage therapist to work on, and his chin resting on the back of his chair, the 21-year-old from Bern, Switzerland, played the day with aplomb. At the end of it he played down his own achievement:
"It was not really tough," said Kaiser. "I had some good hands and people kept trying to bluff me."
Kaiser in control
Kaiser's modesty belies a natural talent. It's often easy to lose track of the tournament's natural progression when watching from the sidelines, the story lost amid a mass of players with stacks that vary in size from one minute to the next. At the midway stage all you can do is identify the players in form; not leading necessarily, but placed mid-pack, maximising their gains out of the limelight where the likes of Makisim Kolosov and Nikolas Liakos had lived on previous days, both gone today before the bubble.
Others that would occupy that elite group with Kaiser included his table mates Sarwer, Kelopuro and Sointula, as well as Johan Van Til, Lari Sihvo and Praz Bansi, all gifted tournament pros and all invited to return tomorrow.
Their participation, along with the departed Joe Ebanks, Irene Baroni and Robert Brofeldt, have made this one of the strongest final stages of an EPT for some time.
Irene Baroni in the stretch
But it was not all about the high rollers today. Proof, if any were needed, that poker is a game open to anyone with a couple of dollars came in the form of Petri Vuolle, whose total expenditure to book his place in this tournament was €2.
Vuolle was a winner in the "EPT Tallinn Adventure", a promotion on PokerStars for Nordic players, and has already out-lasted more opponents than he can count to get here.
After entering a first round of satellites online, which cost the €2, he then progressed through another two tournaments to book a ticket to Tallinn, alongside 16 others. He was then one of two winners from a live satellite to earn his main event seat.
Petri Vuolle spinning up €2
This is by far the largest tournament of Vuolle's career and his first major live event. "It has been very interesting with lots to learn," Vuolle said. "It's so much fun to be here in a game like this."
While all around him were busting in the run up to the bubble, Vuolle clung on and then emerged smiling into the cash. "When the bubble was over, the tournament sort of started again," he said.
With 89,500 he is the short stack, but few players will be enjoying their day four more.
The combination of players like Kaiser and those like Vuolle will be determined tomorrow, as 24 becomes a final table of eight. That treat awaits us and you can find all the scores going into Day 4 on the chip count page. Once again the table draw has placed the chip leaders alongside each other. Kaiser, for one, stands on the brink of an EPT title. Will this be his break-out tournament?
"I hope so," he said.
Until that time check out the links below for a full recap of the day, with video updates available on PokerStars.tv.
Evening in Tallinn
All photos on PokerStars Blog from Tallinn are ©Neil Stoddart/PokerStars.