If you’d have blinked any time over the past couple of days on the Italian Riviera, you would have missed anything between 10 and 25 eliminations from the largest European Poker Tour event in its five-year history. More than a thousand started and now more than a thousand have departed. They flew out the door in record-quick time, and now, after another spectacularly swift day of poker, there are only eight players remaining. That, folks, means a final table – and another day in the books.
Tomorrow in the Casino Municipal, San Remo, the following players will be attempting to secure the €1,508,000 first prize that goes with the title of EPT champion:
Dragan Galic (Croatia) – 3,098,000
Gustav Sundell (Sweden) – 2,625,000
William Reynolds (USA) – 2,531,000
Constant Rijkenberg (Holland) – 932,000
Alexander Fitzgerald (USA) – 721,000
Danilo D’ettoris (Italy) – 686,000
Kalle Niemi (Finland) – 641,000
Ovi Balaj (Romania) – 625,000
The number beside their names is their chip stack heading into the final, and the more observant among you will notice that the biggest number has locked itself to the name Dragan Galic for the fourth consecutive day.
The Croatian has led the tournament ever since day 1a and although he took some early hits today, temporarily surrendering the lead to the likes of Constant Rijkenberg and William Reynolds, he hit back late in the evening to win huge pots from Danilo D’Ettoris, Gianni Giaroni and then an absolute monster against Rijkenberg, to regain his position of dominance.
But Reynolds and Rijkenberg also remain, both with sizeable stacks themselves and both demonstrably in the knowledge of how to use them. Rijkenberg also took some massive hits early in the day, but then managed to make pocket fours beat pocket queens, all in pre-flop, and went flying up the ladder and passed two million. It was only when he flew too close to the sun — a massive bluff gone awry that cost him about 900,000 with nine players remaining — that Rijkenberg was hauled back to the pack.
Reynolds, for his part, managed simply to adhere to one of the hard and fast rules of successful tournament poker: win the big pots. Sitting on the featured table for much of the day, he seemed always to have the goods when it went to showdown, and took the small pots without showing his cards. That’s how you win these things.
The other major force tomorrow will be Gustav Sundell, from Sweden, who has been in the top three almost all day but has seemingly avoided all fireworks. Even our Swedish colleague at PokerStars blog, who has been following him closely, was at a loss to recall a single major pot that went to showdown. He just got himself some chips, got some more, and kept going upward until he too is in a great chance of taking this down.
The relative short stacks tomorrow are Ovi Balaj, who has the chance to turn in the most successful performance from a Romanian on the EPT; Alex “Assassinato” Fitzgerald, an American who has made his home in Europe and around the PokerStars tables; Kalle Niemi, one of two Finns starting today, but the only one remaining after Sami “LarsLuzak” Kelopuro busted; and Danilo D’Ettoris, who took the lions’ share of Kelopuro’s stack late in the day and will be the lone Italian around the final table.
The fact that only those remain means we lost all others. Notable mentions must go to the familiar names of Ben Kang and Malte Strothman, who flew the flag for Germany alongside Pietro Sibione and Doron Tourgman.
Katalin Jerney, from Hungary, was the highest-finishing woman, while Pierre Neuville, who narrowly avoided being the bubble boy on day two, clung on all the way to become the final table bubble instead. That’s also not an enviable spot, but it’s €78,800 sweeter than the other option.
There’ll be more of all this tomorrow — text from us, photography from Neil Stoddart and video blogs from the PokerStars.tv team — when we reconvene at 2pm for the final table.
Until then, good night from San Remo.