As Day 2 of the PaddyPower Irish Open commenced, 256 remaining players had their eyes firmly fixed on the €600,000 first prize, amateurs and pros alike were keen on becoming the next Irish Open Champion and emulating the success of Johansson, Channing, Smyth and Co.
But, of course, only one could be bestowed with that honour, and as the day progressed, dreams were shattered and journeys brought to an abrupt end. Sorel Mizzi, Neil Channing, Andrew Feldman and Donnacha O'Dea all fell by the wayside, as did former Eastender Michael Greco. Perhaps the most unfortunate exit fell at the feet of Julian Thew, only because he was summoned back to the table under the pretense that he was still in, just to be told that he wasn't.
Although the action was thick and fast throughout, it wasn't until the bubble period that the real fun began. With 73 remaining, we witnessed two simultaneous all-ins, both leading to exits. Because Michael Jens Odderskjer was the shorter stacked at the time, however, he was the one who was missed out, while Kaj Emmanuel snuck into the money by a gnat's whisker.
It was around this time that Irish veteran and eventual chip leader Liam Flood began to excel. In addition to snipering down Emmanuel, he went on to eliminate another two or three players in emphatic style including Paul Febers whose pocket threes were unable to topple the gentleman's tens. By the end of the day, Flood boasted 398,200 in chips and a smile that would take a crowbar and jar of Vaseline to remove. Leading the chasing pack are Zsombor Gall (262,300), James Mitchell (230,700) and Peter Murphy (225,100) whilst Ben Roberts (179,700), Ross Boatman (76,500), Eoghan O'Dea (74,900), and Andy Black (48,000) and are all-in with a shout.
One notable to cash was Ken Doherty. Swapping the snooker baize for that of the poker table, the cue wizard performed admirably throughout, but departed near the end when he ran top pair into the straight of Sofia Lovgren, one of three women still alive along with Jen Mason and Fiona Craig.
Perhaps the most entertaining hand of the day occurred at the very death, and led to the departure of crowd favourite and 79-year-old Irishman Paddy Hicks. In a multi-limped pot, three players got their chips in on a flop, Janne Nevalainen leading the way with versus Hicks' and Nik Persaud's . But despite flopping the flush, the turn came a followed by a dramatic river to award Persaud the pot, and Hicks the door.
Play resumes at 2 p.m. tomorrow with Liam Flood topping the bill, but with 61 remaining it's still anyone's game. PokerNews will be back once again, same bat time, same bat channel, so make sure you join us as we attempt to whittle our way down to a final table and take one more step towards crowning a new Champion. It might not be the Fourth of July, but expect fireworks nonetheless.