Danny Ryan pushed with K-Q of hearts and found Johan Lund calling with none other than aces – the second time he’d found himself up against aces in the space of an hour. But this time the outcome would be more favourable to the American. He had Lund covered but the flop only brought blanks, albeit with a heart. When the flop came a heart things started to brighten up for Ryan. Then when another hit the turn any anxiety turned to relief. Lund was out in ninth place – we had our final table.
We started the day with 39 players arriving in the aftermath of one of the most manic last few minutes of any day two in a long time. Did that mean a peaceful start to the day that would decide the cash finishes? No sir. Inside the first level half a dozen players had gone, more would follow quick time. Lee Jones and Noah Boeken speculated on an early finish from the EPT Live commentary box but warned of the pending slowdown.
But standing out in the list of starters this afternoon was Team PokerStars Pro Luca Pagano. The Italian was on course for his eighth EPT cash, equalling the record number set by EPT Baden winner Julian Thew late last year.
Early signs were good. Whilst Scandinavian Rookie of the Year Trond Eidsvig was the shock elimination in the early stages of the day – a stack of over 150k serving him no good – Luca remained on course. Russian pro Alexander Kravchenko would also fall by the wayside along with Rolf Slotboom from Holland and Danish players Peter Eastgate – a chip leader form day two – and WPT winner Christian Grundtvig.
But with 27 players left Luca pushed with a low pair and flush draw. It looked like it might be good but alas his opponent’s queens held ending Luca’s final table hopes. I can report he’s in better spirits now, ultimately disappointed with a cash finish lower down the order than he’d hoped, but in good enough shape to be toasting his performance with supporters in the bar.
As mentioned at the start of the day several PokerStars qualifiers had shown the necessary grit to reach these latter stages. Chief among them was Tim Vance. The contractor from just outside St Louis, Missouri has come across as a man playing in the spirit of someone playing some of the best poker of his life since I talked to him on day one.
Well, today turned out to be his day. From 11k on day one to 1,408,000 waiting for him at the start of tomorrow’s final. His success has no doubt surprised a lot of people who wondered how far this man could go, as he walked around between hands, stood up to play them when he returned, and sang songs in a low mid-western twang.
He was already well chipped when the biggest hand of the tournament came to his table, parked up and slapped him across the face. It came late in the day – a dramatic tank-call after Kristian Pedersen pushed in with A-K hardly expecting Vance to call with pocket nines after several minutes of agonising in his head.
When he showed his nines he blasted his hands together, yelled out and then begged the dealer not to ruin this moment. He didn’t, and Pedersen watched his tournament come to an end in a blaze in front of him.
Elsewhere the man least likely to make the final was American PokerStars qualifier Daniel Ryan who a few minutes before the Vance hand had deposited most of his stack in the bank of Pedersen (shortly to become the Bank of Vance). Next hand though he doubled up through fellow PokerStars qualifier Tommy Pavlicek and with the Lund hand that ended the day will be back tomorrow with 557,000.
Talking of Tommy Pavlicek he put in his best EPT performance, cashing deep. Whilst he was unable to recover from the Ryan hand he finished in 11th place, three spots off the final, collecting DKK274,123 ($53,353). Prior to Tommy credit was due to Joris Jaspers from Holland who finished a career best 15th place after several attempts and near misses this season.
Tomorrow’s final table looks like this…
Seat 1 — Rasmus Hede Nielsen — Denmark 789,000
Seat 2 — Timothy Vance — PokerStars qualifier — USA — 1,408,000
Seat 3 — Daniel Ryan — PokerStars qualifier — USA — 557,000
Seat 4 — Patrik Andersson — Sweden — 283,000
Seat 5 — Simon Dørslund — Denmark — 267,000
Seat 6 — Nicolas Dervaux — France — 336,000
Seat 7 — Søren Jensen — Denmark — 500,000
Seat 8 — Magnus Hansen — Denmark — 458,000
Few players are able to maintain a chip lead long enough through day three to make it to the final. We’ve seen the spiralling descent of many a player who previously scorched a path in the baize only to crash out in oblivion before the final. Rasmus Hede Nielsen steered away from this disaster scenario, ending the day on 789,000, a stack of fighting weight that lies second only to Tim Vance.
Denmark’s home contingent has reason to cheer with four locals on the final table. For anyone statistically minded this correlates well with the 41 per cent of the starting field hailing from Denmark. That leaves Patrik Andersson of Sweden and Frenchman Nicolas Dervaux filling in the gaps.
France verses Scandinavia versus the United States. Each player has victory on their mind right now and the relief of a long day behind them. It comes with an order to return here at 2pm tomorrow afternoon local time for photos, interviews and an afternoon under bright lights. Whether sleep comes before that for the uninitiated it’s hard to say.
You can catch up on all the action from today by clicking on the links below including the great work by our video blog team. You can see for yourself Tim Vance calling the hand of Kristian Pedersen as well as the updates from this afternoon and evening.
You can also see the results from today by clicking here…
For a wrap up on the day’s action here’s Kara Scott…