Friday’s Day 3 of the PokerStars.com European Poker Tour Season 5 Grand Final in Monte Carlo ended with American Matthew Woodward sitting atop the leaderboard with 2.726 million chips, putting him ahead of France’s Ludovic Lacay’s 2.235 million and Day 2 chip leader Marc Naalden of Holland, who finished the day with 1.77 million.
There were 138 players left from the original 935 to begin play on Friday. Those who could manage to last into the top 88 would make the money. The plan at the start of Day 3 was to try to play down to 24 players, meaning it appeared as though players would have an especially long day ahead of them.
In the first hour of play, EPT Dortmund champ Sandra Naujoks started out well, quickly pushing up beyond the 600,000-chip mark and near the top of the leaderboard. Annette Obrestad also got off to a fast start, building a stack of more than 800,000. However, it was Peter Trapley, in fifth when the day began, who would soon be sporting the biggest stack as the afternoon progressed, becoming the first player to cross the million-chip mark.
Meanwhile, early afternoon, pre-cash bubble casualties included Sorel Mizzi, Joe Hachem, Andre Akkari, George Danzer, Lee Nelson, Ilari Sahamies, and Isabelle Mercier.
It would take a little over three hours to reach the cash bubble. Marcel Luske had seen his stack dwindle to about 40,000 chips, and had pushed it all in on a flop of , only to be called by Sebastian Ruthenburg. The Flying Dutchman turned over for ace-high, bad timing against Ruthenberg’s . The turn was a jack, making Luske the last one out before the money.
Once the bubble burst, eliminations came more rapidly. Lacay used pocket aces against Andreas Hoivold’s pocket eights to knock out Hoivold and claim a huge pot, pushing him past Trapley and into the chip lead. Over the next couple of hours, the field was cut in half as Farzad Bonyadi, Cort Kibler-Melby, Phil Laak, Luca Pagano, Stephen Chow, J.J. Liu, and about 35 others hit the rail before the dinner break.
The eliminations slowed down considerably once players returned from dinner. Obrestad had seen her stack dwindle during the later afternoon hours, and would fall down below the 200,000-chip mark during that first hour back from break, though would eventually build back up over 600,000 before play would conclude. Meanwhile, Steve Sung hit the rail at the hands of Marc Naalden, Alex Kravchenko was knocked out by Sergio Castellucio, and a short-stacked Sandra Naujoks was eliminated by Eric Qu.
About 11 hours after they had begun, tournament officials decided to end the day a little earlier than planned. At that point 31 players remained, with Woodward having charged ahead of Lacay and into the chip lead.
Here’s how the top ten looked when play was stopped late Friday:
Matthew Woodward (USA) — 2,726,000
Ludovic Lacay (France) — 2,235,000
Marc Naalden (Holland) — 1,770,000
Johannes Strassmann (Germany) — 1,612,000
Steven Silverman (USA) — 1,509,000
Peter Traply (Hungary) — 1,449,000
Bart Spijkers (Holland) — 1,377,000
Grayson Physioc (USA) — 1,340,000
Grigory Zima (Russia) — 1,313,000
Alexander Morozov (Russia) — 1,202,000
Among those also still remaining to battle for the €2,300,000 first prize are Jason Somerville (13th), Annette Obrestad (17th), Dag Martin Mikkelsen (22nd), Sergio Castelluccio (26th), and the tourney’s current short stack, Miami John Cernuto (31st).
Players will redraw for seats before starting back up again at noon Monte Carlo time. Be sure to join PokerNews then to follow all of the action as the tournament plays down to the final table.
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