The first three days of EPT Prague involved surprise leaders and challengers, the situation at the end of Day 3 is much clearer. The reason: the gradual dominance of tonight’s chip leader Kevin MacPhee. The PokerStars qualifier was already amassing a sizable lead before he won a three-way all-in against Kevin Stani and Paul Knebel, a pot that took him past the 2 million mark. Now he rests ahead of Day 4 with 2,096,000 in principle position to take down the title.
What makes this story all the more notable is MacPhee’s previous. Earlier this year MacPhee owned the EPT Berlin final table, winning his first major title and earning €1 million. Now, nine months later, he may be poised to banish the monkey on the back of all EPT champions, and win a second.
Chip leader Kevin MacPhee
But should he fail, others are in position to step forward, they being Rob Hollink and Salvatore Bonavena.
For Hollink, who finished on 529,000 chips, it has been a long wait to get within sight of a repeat final, having won the Grand Final all the way back in Season 1. The sight of the Prague Hilton tournament room is a familiar one to Team PokerStars Pro Bonavena, who won his first major title in this very room two years ago. He bags up 1,166,000 tonight.
Hat tip: Salvatore Bonavena
Their opponents tomorrow will not be quite so obligingly cordial to the record books. The likes of Team Pros Marcin Horecki (739,000) and Richard Toth (680,000), along with formidable players like Jan Bendik (1,846,00), in second place tonight, and Marco Leonzio (1,064,000), will return intent of reaching Saturday’s finale. Melanie Weisner and Roberto Romanello will be back, as will one half of the Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow of EPT Prague, husband and wife Helen and Josh Prager.
Mr Prager will be back but Mrs Prager will not. We were already down to 24 players, after an astonishing double elimination hand won by Horecki. But at the same time Prager, H, was shoving with queens against the jacks of Ion Pavel. Pavel made his set on the flop but Prager made a straight on the turn, only for Pavel to make quads on the river. A tearful Prager busted in 24th place.
Josh and Helen Prager
While some records wait to be set, some have already been inked in to the ledger. Luca Pagano – how many times have we written that on the EPT blog? – recorded his 17th EPT cash today, busting in 43rd-place. His winnings in EPTs now stand at $1.2 million.
Pagano will not feature in Day 4 and neither will many others who fell along the way.
EPT Tallinn winner Stani was sent home by MacPhee, while Matt Affleck, Fabrice Soulier, Monte Carlo High Roller winner Tobias Reinkemeier, early pace setter Dirk Richter and Serial PokerStars Qualifier Pierre Neuville were also dispatched to the rail.
A final word for Dominik Nitsche, the EPT Prague bubble boy. The young German has big results in Barcelona, Marrakech, Barcelona again, and France this year, not to mention an LAPT win in 2009 and near WPT miss a few months later. Nitsche shows remarkable talent at the baize and this will surely be only a minor black spot in an otherwise Technicolor fledgling career.
Dominik Nitsche (center, in grey), eliminated on the bubble
Chip counts are here while all the details of today; the eliminations, the double ups, the fist fights and international incidents, can be found at the links below. All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
Play continues tomorrow when the field will be reduced from 23 to eight, who will compete in Saturday’s final. All that remains to do is suggest the links above as well as those of our German, Dutch and Italian foreign bloggers. Like us, you might not understand a word of it, but there might be the odd picture. It should go perfectly with a European dinner, a late East Coast lunch, a regular West Coast lunch or as light relief to Australians about to watch their bowlers trounced by the top of the England batting order.
Throwing some Christmas cheer about: Tournament staff Clement Obeiegbu and Kevin Ferguson
Our thanks also to photographer Neil Stoddart, who as well as being on the front lines all day has also ventured further outside than our furlough to the supermarket across the street.
We’re now heading, with about 500 other people, to the PokerStars Christmas Party, for turkey, a Bond film and a nap on the couch. We’ll be back at 12 noon local time tomorrow. Until then it’s good night from Prague.