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At times it was fast, other times slow, but at the end of play on day four of EPT Prague few were left in any doubt that tomorrow’s final was likely to get a few pulses racing, be they Czech, Italian or neutral.

Jan Skampa, a student in Prague when not found at the poker table, makes his second consecutive EPT final table this weekend following his fourth place finish in Vilamoura just two weeks ago, a feat not achieved since season one. If his reputation hadn’t already been cemented in Portugal, this performance will.

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Tournament leader Jan Skampa

Arriving today with nearly 1.3 million chips he was firing from the off, quickly adding to a three-tiered stack, peaking after a three-way Goliath of a hand against Anthony Roux and Stefan Mattsson that shipped more than three million his way. By the close that figure was 3,935,000, with daylight between him and second placed Mattsson.

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Stefan Mattsson

Mattsson may sleep tonight dreaming of ace-queen, a hand that provided him relief not once but twice today, first against the ace-king of Juha Lauttamus, then again to bust Yann Brosolo, the latter’s elimination in 13th place bequeathing Mattsson the chip lead.

The Frenchman Anthony Roux, who started his day with a gutsy call to cripple Bastian Trachte, finished today in third place with 2,839,000 chips ahead of Eyal Avitan, the chip leader this morning. Avitan doesn’t smile much although he has reason to, bagging up 2,627,000 chips tonight.

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Eyal Avitan

While the efforts of Skampa make the headlines the romantic sub plot belongs to an iconic Italian.

In conversations last night the Team PokerStars Pro Luca Pagano hinted at recent changes in his game, tweaks to a system that had already netted him record setting cash finishes but that now propel him to his record extending sixth EPT final table.

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Luca Pagano

Pagano bags up 2,119,000 tonight. Two events ago he held the chip lead four handed in Warsaw before an outdraw ruined his title chances. It was a bitter defeat. This week he showed he is over that and more determined than ever to snatch that first title.

“This is going to be the sixth try,” said Pagano. “Let’s see if six is going to be the lucky number.”

Other notable performances included that of Juha Lauttamus, who recovered well from his earlier collision with Mattsson. He came close to a second Prague final, but was horse whipped by the poker gods when he least expected it.

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Juha Lauttamus

Bad beats are plentiful but the Finn’s departure was worth recalling. All-in with jacks, Anthony Roux called him with ace-king. The flop brought a king and crucially a pair of threes to put Roux ahead but the turn came a jack, swinging things back in Lauttamus’s favour before a king landed on the river, poking Lauttamus in the eye and sending him to the rail in tenth.

What with that and the elimination of the last Englishman Priyan De Mel in ninth place the final table was set. When it starts at noon tomorrow it will look like this:

Seat 1 Anthony Roux – 2,839,000
Seat 2 Stefan Mattsson – 3,553,000
Seat 3 Laurence Ryan – 1,338,000
Seat 4 Gustav Ekerot – 502,000
Seat 5 Sven Eichelbaum – 658,000
Seat 6 Jan Skampa – 3,935,000
Seat 7 Eyal Avitan – 2,627,000
Seat 8 Luca Pagano – 2,119,000

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An honourable mention goes to the heroics of one player not among those listed above. Antony Lellouche may feel a depressingly familiar sensation in his bones tonight after busting with three tables left for a third EPT event in succession. Earlier in the week we’d predicted a better score for the Frenchman. Apologies to Lellouche for this kiss of death.

As always, a good way to fill the time between now and noon tomorrow is to immerse yourself in today’s coverage. Find out who departed in 24th place for instance, how long we played 16 handed and who got a smile out of Eyal Avitan in the links below:

Day 4 table draw
Levels 20 & 21
Level 22
Level 23
Level 24
Level 25

That’s it for today then. Read all about day four on our foreign language blogs: German, Swedish and Italian. Our thanks to the video blog team and their tireless work getting Christmas videos up onto the internet. Find that and everything else over at PokerStars.tv. Thanks also for the photography of Neil Stoddart, who brought us this…

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And this…

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All being (c) him.

Until tomorrow. High noon. See you then.

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