Only 31 players from the initial 244 returned Wednesday in the hopes of making the first World Series of Poker Europe final table of 2010. Andrew Pantling started the day as chip leader with just over 100,000, and although he relinquished the lead during the early part of the day, took it back toward the end and consolidated his position going into Thursday's final table as the chip leader with a giant 627,000-chip stack — nearly double anyone else's.
Although the action kicked off at 2:00 p.m., somehow seven players managed to miss the start of the tournament. All arrived within the first 15 minutes of play — save one. Chris Moorman, who started off in the top five in chips, was nowhere to be seen until he finally appeared nearly two hours into the event. “Wrong day to oversleep,” he sighed.
Despite having dropped over a third of his stack, Moorman managed a decent-enough recovery to keep his chances alive as play headed into the money. The incredibly unfortunate bubble boy was Javed Abrahams, the British youngster hotly tipped by both Praz Bansi and James Akenhead as a future star, rivered the nut flush holding the ace of diamonds in his hand on board, but astonishingly, Ilan Rouah held for the straight flush to eliminate him and put everyone else into the money.
Barely 15 minutes later on, the same table and an almost virtual repeat of the hand, EPT San Remo champion Liv Boeree got her stack in with on a board against Lawrie Inman's . The fell on the turn and the river was the , giving Inman his own straight-flush as another gob-smacked Brit hit the rail.
Indeed, once in the money, the home hopes seemed to be eliminated with alarming regularity as Peter Wood, Chris Moorman, Praz Bansi and Lawrie Inman were consecutively knocked out in 13th to 10th place.
Inman's elimination hand was the biggest pot of the night as his big slick came unstuck on an ace-eight-seven board against Pantling's flopped top two pair holding of ace-eight. This created a half-million pot that was shipped across to the Canadian, which put him far and away above everyone else in the tournament.
While Pantling had started and finished the day as chip leader, former WSOP bracelet winner Willie Tann had started the day at the very bottom of the counts and yet somehow he managed to navigate his way through the day and squeeze onto the final table as the short stack. With seven players remaining, eyes were mostly on Tann to be the one to make the move, but instead it was the former WSOPE main event runner-up John Tabatabai who suffered that indignity. He ended up in a raising war holding against Chris Bjorin only to fall afoul of the legendary Swede's pocket aces and go out in seventh. Incidentally, with this cash, Bjorin now has the most cashes in the WSOPE since its inception, which isn't really a bad record to have, though you'll suspect he wants to add to the two bracelets he has won previously.
The final table for tomorrow was set up as follows:
Seat 1: Willie Tann - 72,000
Seat 2: Chris Bjorin - 368,500
Seat 3: Phil Laak - 317,000
Seat 4: Andrew Pantling - 627,000
Seat 5: Ilan Rouah - 200,000 S
Seat 6: David Peters - 251,500
The question is whether Pantling can, for a third consecutive day, stay at the top of the pile to win the first bracelet of the WSOPE 2010. Could former bracelet winners Tann or Bjorin pick up their second or third bracelet respectively? Does the superaggressive Frenchman Ilan Rouah or online star David Peters have what it takes? Or will the (literally) battered and bruised Phil Laak finally get hold of the gold he so dearly wants?
The final table will begin tomorrow at 2 p.m. local time and the PokerNews Live Reporting team will be there to bring you all the news from the first riffle to the final river card. We'll see you there!