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EPT San Remo Day 4: Bække Back in Business

The 66 players still in contention at the PokerStars.it EPT San Remo were back inside the Casino Municipale on Monday, ready to play on to the big money. The field needed to be further reduced to 24 for Tuesday's penultimate day, and it took just a few levels of nonstop action to reach that goal. When the chips were bagged up around sundown, Allan Bække's final count of 3.483 million gives him a nearly one-million-chip lead over his nearest challenger. If you've been paying attention to Season 6 of the EPT, you are already familiar with Bække's name. Just a few weeks ago, the Danish pro climbed a mountain of 546 players to take down EPT Snowfest. Because no one has ever won two EPT Main Event titles, two consecutive wins would be equally unheard of and legendary.

Bække's first orbit of play was a pretty good indication of how things were going to go for him. On a flop of {Q-Hearts} {3-Spades} {J-Hearts}, Fabrizio Ascari moved all-in holding {A-Hearts} {K-Hearts}. Bække didn't really want to call with {K-Clubs} {Q-Clubs}, but he was able to dodge the multitude of outs as the turn and river blanked off to send Ascari off as the first elimination of the day. That got Bække off and running in the right direction, and he was hardly seen losing a noteworthy pot for the remainder of the day. Just to bookend his run properly, Bække was responsible for the day's final elimination, as well, when he woke up with {K-Clubs} {K-Diamonds} against Gijs Verheijen's {A-Clubs} {J-Spades}. "It's so nice to get paid when I actually have a hand," Bække said. That payday shot him up into the overnight chip lead just as the bags came out for the final 24.

Bække is all alone atop the board, but he is not without some dangerous players on his radar. Irishman Dermot Blain has had an above-average stack for the entire tournament, and he and Day 2 chip leader Dmitry Stelmak are in the closest contention to chase down the the frontrunner. Dutchman Paul Berende is still in the mix, as is the very dangerous last-woman-standing, Liv Boeree. Frenchman Claudio Rinaldi and Bulgarian Atanas Gueorguiev are both in contention, though both will have to battle back from their short-stacked starting positions.

The final three tables seem to be full of good players, and that's even despite losing some of the more notables faces over the course of the day. American Joe Serock was the second player out after his {Q-Hearts} {Q-Clubs} took an ugly beat from Matthias de Meulder's {10-Diamonds} {10-Spades}. The Team PokerStars Pro from Belgium made a straight on the turn to lock up that pot, and Serock was relieved of his final few chips on the next hand. Perennial EPT performer Yury Kerzhapkin was another early casualty, and he was followed to the cashier's desk by Nick Schulman, Dag Martin Mikkelsen, Alfio Battisti, and Michel Abecassis as the day progressed. The exits of Pierpaolo Fabretti and de Meulder a bit later on means the field has run out of Team PokerStars Pros. There are, however, a smattering of PokerStars players and online qualifiers still in the mix.

Day 5 is scheduled for 2:00 p.m. local time on Tuesday, and it figures to be another exciting session of poker. Our Live Reporting team is on hand with a front row seat for all of the festivities, and you can follow the coverage right here.

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