Four weeks ago Ben Wilinofsky swaggered his way to a first European Poker Tour title in Berlin, his prize earned after what was a mesmerising performance, pivoting on his early accumulation of more than half the chips in play. It was an advantage the Canadian never wavered from pressing home.
His opponents that day had been capable, but of those one stood out as perhaps his greatest obstacle, Maximilian Heinzelmann.
Back in the German capital, Heinzelmann could not quite get the better of Wilinofsky, always playing in his shadow, as Wilinofsky sparkled both on and off the table. But the German could undoubtedly play a bit and his second place finish could quite easily have been a first.
Two in a row for Max Heinzelmann
Now he may get that win, almost leading tonight in San Remo, with 7,800,000 chips, just 120,000 (two big blinds) behind chip leader Rupert Elder, and looking to put his Berlin misfortune to rest.
Rupert Elder holds the lead, just…
The 21-year-old German dominated Day 5 today to make his second EPT final in a row, starting on the outer tables before finishing appropriately under the glare of the TV lights, where at times it seemed every flop dealt was made for television.
The feature table, as viewed through the glass box containing what will be the winner’s Shamballa bracelet
Heinzelmann’s surge began at the expense of the chip leader coming into today, Nicolas Yunis. Yunis had four-bet shoved for around a million chips which Heinzelmann snap called with pocket kings. Yunis was beaten, out in 16th, while for Heinzelmann it was the start of an incredible surge towards the final.
While all that was going on Elder was doing the same on the outer table.
Elder wins some more
There may have been less of the attention, but as far as Elder was concerned the conditions were perfect. Elder started by taking chips from everyone, notably Nicola Greico, who he dispatched early on with aces, then Constantin Russo, before sending Marco Bognanni to the rail with an untraditional six-deuce-off.
Heinzelmann and Elder will lead what is one of the most talent-filled finals of the season. Even with the departure of former World Champion and Team PokerStars Pro Joe Cada, as well as impressive English player Andrew Teng, the final could prove an undiluted masterpiece, an epic piece of theatre, on stage at Casino San Remo.
Max Lykov will likely play a part in it. When it comes to setting records, even two final tables in a row holds no sway over becoming the first double-EPT-winner, which is exactly what Lykov stands poised to do.
The Russian was among the leaders last night, while tomorrow will return in seventh place. Few would doubt he has the will, but his stack will look miniature when lined up against that of Elder and Heinzelmann, both directly to his left. To win EPT number two Lykov will have to overcome his biggest challenge yet.
Lykov in action
Of course, these things don’t always go according to plan, and while Xuan Liu will attempt to become only the fourth female winner of an EPT (the second in a row here, following Liv Boeree 12 months ago), Francesco de Vivo makes his second final table, following Copenhagen in Season 6. Meanwhile the likes of Roberto Spada, Massimiliano Manigrasso and Constantino Russo, meat and two veg players, will be looking to corrupt the history making, or any attempt to satisfy the sentimentally needy.
Here’s how they’ll line up:
Seat 1. Francesco De Vivo, Italy – 1,090,000
Seat 2. Max Lykov, Russia, Team PokerStars Pro — 1,495,000
Seat 3. Rupert Elder, United Kingdom – 8,005,000
Seat 4. Max Heinzelmann, Germany – 7,885,000
Seat 5. Xuan Liu, Canada – 1,740,000
Seat 6. Roberto Spada, Italy, 4,775,000
Seat 7. Massimiliano Manigrasso, Italy – 2,000,000
Seat 8. Costantino Russo, Italy – 2,565,000
Read all about the exploits of these eight, and those no longer with us, by clicking through the links below. You can also find details of those eliminated on the prize winners page.
Now to the final table, which will begin at 12 noon tomorrow.
Evening in San Remo
That’s it from us for today. We now head for our meditative oxygen chamber to prepare for tomorrow. Don’t forget EPT Live will be in action for the final table, with David Tuckman and our very own (take him, he’s yours) Marc Convey in the commentary booth. Details of that tomorrow.
Until then, it’s goodnight from San Remo.