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Day four of the inaugural EPT event in Vilamoura was not for the faint-hearted. This year’s tournament structure is one of the best in the world, but remarkably even a stack of more than a million chips going into the penultimate day doesn’t guarantee a thing.

Just ask Antony Lellouche.

The massive overnight leader, and seasoned EPT veteran, was one of the first fallers on a day of huge hands and shocking bust-outs. At the end of it, the Portuguese player Antonio Matias is the leader going to the final table. He held most of the monsters and was behind most of those bust-outs, with the full result of all this carnage a final table line-up that looks like this:

Antonio Matias, Portugal, 3,003,000
Jeff Sarwer, Canada, 1,983,000
Ryan Franklin, United States, 1,047,000
Pierre Neuville, Belgium, 1,027,000
Jan Skampa, Czech Republic, 926,000
Joao Silva, Portugal, 780,000
Michel Abecassis, France, 488,000
Andrei Vlasenko, Russia, 371,000

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Antonio Matias

Matias’s charge into the lead really gathered steam when he knocked out Lellouche in two huge pots. On the second of those, Lellouche bluff-shoved all in with a busted draw that Matias snapped off with trip twos.

Matias sat with more than 1.5 million at that point, it grew beyond 2 million as the day progressed, and with 3,003,000 at day’s close he is going to be a huge threat at tomorrow’s final table.

The same applies to Jeff Sarwer. “Make me the villain,” Sarwer quipped last night, when we joked that we were getting tired of writing about him on PokerStars Blog and had now run out of things to say. But it’s tough to make a villain out of a player who is rapidly becoming the story of season six.

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Jeff Sarwer

He’s been chip-leader or thereabouts on at least five days we’ve had to write these wrap-up reports. A relatively recent convert to poker from chess, he’s clearly doing something very right indeed – and now he is second in chips going to his first final table. The ride continues.

Of course to get to those eight, we had to lose 16 others. Among them were the PokerStars qualifier – and official Friend of PokerStars Blog – Matt Johns, who ran kings into aces and then sevens into more aces, all within the first orbit. That’s no way to end what had been a terrific first appearance on the EPT from Johns. As a self-professed impoverished student, the €10,151 is going to help, but he’ll probably be ruing what might have been. Next time, Matt.

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Matt Johns

He was joined on the rail by the likes of Jim “Mr_BigQueso” Collopy and another online phenom, Ruben Visser, whose big overnight stack followed the example set by Lellouche’s (ie, it vanished).

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Ruben Visser

Visser’s Team PokerStars Pro colleague Jude Ainsworth deserves special mention too. Although he went out in 13th, that’s a cash on his EPT debut since joining the Team. Plenty more are sure to follow.

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Jude Ainsworth

The full list of prizewinners so far is on the prizewinners page, where you’ll also see the target for all those remaining eight, namely the €404,793 first prize.

As we drift off into the Algarve night, there’s still plenty for you to keep you entertained. The LAPT Playa Conchal is under way, so check out all the updates from Costa Rica. You can watch all kinds of televisual entertainment over on PokerStars.tv. When you’ve done all that – and not before – you can check out all the action from today with our level-by-level updates:

Level 18 updates
Level 19 updates
Level 20 updates
Level 21 updates
Level 22 updates

Join us tomorrow for this showdown. There’s the online phenomenon in Ryan “HITTHEPANDA” Franklin, there’s the chess prodigy Jeff Sarwer. There’s the EPT veterans Pierre Neuville and Michel Abecassis and there’s the eastern European dark horses Jan Skampa and Andrei Vlasenko. Then there’s the home hopes Joao Silva and our leader, Antonio Matias.

It should be fun. Until then, goodnight.

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