Boiled down and stripped of any flashiness, stress or emotion, today’s objective for each of the 68 players was simple: survive into the money and then into day four. With the flashiness, stress and emotion stuck back on, that objective became a more complicated light-brigade charge into the unknown until death or double up, or a stealth job, crawling along on your belly, until you reached the money line where you could relax. Then, with that line breached, re-evaluate the situation and play on to 32.
It’s hardly surprising that a day like today would pivot around the bubble, a point that took just three levels to reach. Before it, the nervous were looking around for others’ misfortune; after it, they were giddy with the delight of a well-earned cash. The unfortunate bubble boy was Serguei Pomerantsev. His bust was the best thing all the others heard today.
Bubble boy Serguei Pomerantsev (brown shirt looking miserable)
It came after a little more than three full levels after a handful of hand-for-hand hands. Pomerantsev, who happened to be in the PokerStars Blog Featured Seat, moved in for 84,500 behind a pre-flop raise from Jonas Kronwitter, from Germany, who wasted no time in calling. After a delay to decide the outcome of a second all-in elsewhere (a double up), Kronwitter flipped over his pocket jacks, racing against the Russian’s ace-queen. A flopped jack put his hopes to bed and left everyone else in the money.
With Pomerantsev gone the flood gates of cliché were opened slightly, sluicing away the remaining eight players in the best part of a level.
While the bubble excitement inevitably involved the short stacks, the weightier issue of the chip lead involved the big stacks, behemoth things dwarfing their vulnerable neighbours in the fight for total supremacy. That fight came in the shape of a Russian duel that found Maxim Lykov and day two leader Vitaly Tolokonnikov wrestling for the lead with only Jonas Kronwitter from Germany, and able to keep them in sight.
Chip leader Maxim Lykov
Ultimately it was Lykov atop the day three podium (there actually is a podium in a corridor nearby), bagging up 636,000 to Tolokonnikov’s 613,500 and Jonas Kronwitter on 550,000.
In pursuit of the top echelon are the rear echelon, a formation that includes Joram Voelkein (520,000), Adrian Schaap (520,000) and Igor Dubinsky (517,000), as well as PokerStars qualifiers Michael Naletov (257,000), Michael Meyburg (240,000), Andrew Malott (183,000) and Alex Fitzgerald (185,000). They live on to face television conditions under the lights on day four.
PokerStars qualifier Andrew Malott
We lost the Kazakhstani qualification miracle man Aleksandr Ivanchenko, Arnaud Mattern and Lika Gerasimova today, as well as the PokerStars qualifiers Priit Turner, Raoul Refos and David Sonelin who, if they return tomorrow, it will only be to watch forlornly from the rail. Vyacheslav Rotach may do the same but the Russian PokerStars qualifier will at least have €7,610 in his back pocket for his 39th place finish.
Today ranks as one of the shortest EPT days. It’s an odd sensation, particularly for players far more accustomed to a lawless late night taxi scrum as they try to beat the sunrise to bed. That said, no one is complaining.
Things restart at noon tomorrow, a day that may not be quite so brief but which will produce a final eight to do battle on Sunday. All the minutiae will be here on the blog while tomorrow marks the return of EPT Live, offering the best view of the action along with expert commentary and analysis from all sorts of folk picked out of crowds because they know what they’re talking about.
Better than all that it’s free and live online all day. EPT Kyiv promised to be a thriller to the wire. Surely the lawn/flat tyre/leaking roof/dinner can wait.
In the meantime if you blinked and missed day three, or just fancy a recap, you can catch up on all the play-by-play at the links below:
Lest we forget our colleagues: They may speak funny but apparently their words make brilliant sense in German and Russian. You can also find all the videos of the day as well as more interviews and features on the unbeatable PokerStars.tv.
That’s it for now. See you tomorrow.
All photographs are (c) Neil Stoddart