Now Live 888Live Festival London EPT Grand Final, Day 2: Naalden, Obrestad Head Final 138

Marc Naalden

A pair of well-known European poker names came to the fore on Thursday’s Day 2 of the European Poker Tour (EPT) Season 5 Grand Final in Monte Carlo. Holland’s Marc Naalden claimed the overnight lead as the field was trimmed from approximately 500 players to start to only 138 by night’s end. Norway’s online wunderkind Annette “Annette_15” Obrestad enjoyed one of the best Day 2 sessions as well, ending up in second place on the day behind Naalden.

Among the day’s earliest casualties was American Andy Bloch, who hit the rail after losing a race with {A-Clubs}{K-Hearts} against Jarred Solomon’s {10-Spades}{10-Clubs}. The board ran out {Q-Diamonds}{6-Clubs}{3-Hearts}{J-Spades}{9-Spades} to bring a quick end to Bloch’s Day 2. Big Slick proved unlucky to Team PokerStars Pro Raymond Rahme as well, but in the opposite way; Rahme got his chips in with {Q-Hearts}{Q-Clubs} against Steve Berdah’s {A-Spades}{K-Diamonds}, and departed when the board brought {8-Spades}{K-Spades}{2-Diamonds}{6-Spades}{9-Hearts}. Bloch and Rahme weren’t the only notables to fall early, being joined on the rail by Ivan Demidov, Dario Minieri, Arnaud Mattern, James “Andy McLEOD” Obst, Chad Brown, Chris Ferguson, Rolf Slotboom, tennis great Boris Becker and many others.

Meanwhile, American Joe Ebanks was among those making an early surge. Ebanks took down a huge pot early to pass start-of-session leader Lee “Final Table” Nelson. Ebanks continued to climb throughout the day and finished third behind Naalden and Obrestad. Nelson had a tougher road, but made it through to Day 3, though with less chips than his opening 250,000.

Among Day 2’s later exits was that of EPT Warsaw champ Joao Barbosa. Barbosa jammed all in from the cutoff with {2-Clubs}{2-Hearts}, but found American Vadim Shlez waiting with {A-Diamonds}{A-Clubs}. The board brought no suspense at all, running out {4-Hearts}{A-Hearts}{7-Spades}{4-Spades}{A-Clubs}, giving Shlez quad aces, the knockout, and a chip stack somewhere near the lead at that point. Shlez stayed hot as the night wore on, bagging up 540,000 in chips, good for fourth place on the day.

Jason Mercier was among the last players to fall during the nighttime play. Mercier battled at a table with Phil Laak and others for most of the session, and was crippled after unsuccessfully running a bluff on Laak. Mercier’s final chips went into the middle backing A-9, which failed to connect against an opponent’s pocket queens.

Meanwhile, Annette Obrestad’s stack continued to grow. Despite suffering several small hits early, the active Obrestad continued to press the action, and flirted with the lead for much of the night. In one of the last hands of the night, Obrestad pressured another player off a pot by firing hard at a {3-Diamonds}{8-Hearts}{A-Spades}{8-Spades}{4-Hearts} board. That hand pushed her to nearly 600,000, and she stacked up even higher before action halted for the night.

The overnight top ten:

Marc Naalden (Holland) — 777,000
Annette Obrestad (Norway) — 671,500
Joe Ebanks (USA) — 601,500
Vadim Shlez (USA) — 540,000
Peter Traply (Hungary) — 534,500
Johannes Strassmann (Germany) — 495,000
Matthew Woodward (USA) — 444,500
Stephen Haughey (UK) — 431,500
Adrian Schaap (Holland) — 430,000
Luca Pagano (Italy) — 411,000

Other notables still alive include Day 1b leader Amicha Barer, Dab Palovic, Ludovic Lacay, George Danzer, Fabrice Soulier, Alexander Kravchenko, Andreas Hoivold, Sorel Mizzi, Sebastian Ruthenberg, Marcel Luske, Ilari Sahamies, Dag Martin Mikkelsen, Lee Nelson, Phil Laak, Sami Kelopuro, Alain Roy, Isabelle Mercier, Nenad Medic and Andre Akkari.

Join PokerNews at noon Monte Carlo time on Friday as the surviving 138 players return to action. The money bubble will burst early in the day, and the ever-narrowing field will move closer to Sunday’s final table and the €2,300,000 first prize.

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