The streets outside the Casino de Barcelona were covered with the rays of a beautiful sunshine. There were 112 people walking through that sunshine who must have been having one or two peeks into the future of their own mind. In their minds they would write their own story. In this story, sometime in the early evening, Tournament Director Thomas Kremser would be announcing to the dealers to cease dealing. They would have reached the final 24 players and their name would be announced as the new chip leader.
Amongst those people who hoped to write their own headlines was the chip leader. Bryn Kenney started the day with 693,500 chips and seemed to have a game plan to use his huge chip stack as leverage against the rest of the players on his table. Kenney was involved in two all-in pots within the first few hands and within mere minutes of arriving at the Casino de Barcelona his chip stack had grown by a further 200,000 chips. It was going to take a super hero of some proportion to stop Kenney from adding an EPT title to his trophy cabinet. Then, shortly before 20:00, along came a super hero and Kenney was eliminated. Thor Stang did have on a Batman t-shirt, so that will do for us. Kenney – living and dying by the sword – had moved all in for 350,000 on the river and Stang picked off his bluff.
Team PokerStars Pro Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier started the day as one of the shortest stacks in the tournament. Being a superstar and having a small chip stack attracts media like vultures surrounding a dying animal. ElkY kept the vultures circling for a long time as he turned his short stack into 400,000 with some excellent play and a spot of good fortune, most notably when he spiked a nine on the turn to hit a set against the pocket aces of Carlos Neira.
Team Pokerstars Pro Ruben Visser, online superstar Bryan Pellegrino, Surinder Sunar and Carlos Mortensen were all notable names leaving the Casino de Barcelona before the end of Level 18. At the same time, Roman Makhlin rose to prominence. Makhlin, who qualified for this event on PokerStars, was the man responsible for disposing of Pellegrino. By the end of level 18, he was our chip leader with over one million chips.
Elsewhere around the tables there was a fantastic little battle going on between Kristoffer Thorssen and Pascal LeFrancois, two players who had more raises and re-raises than a CEO. Then you had Team PokerStars Pro Matthias De Meulder who was having a battle – with everyone really! De Meulder had his stack in the middle on numerous occasions only to double up time and time again.
Just after Level 19, we lost ElkY when he ran his pair of queens into the pocket aces of Jesus Cortes Lizano. A few short hands later, a rather unfortunate Erik Van Den Berg was also eliminated when Pascal LeFrancois' ace-nine beat his ace-king.
A quarter of the overall field was, not surprisingly, Spanish, and one of the Spanish contingent was Day 1b chip leader Luis Rufas. Rufas won a huge pot to double up just after level 20 had begun when a cleverly disguised set on the flop managed to sneak past Andrey Danilyuk’s radar to push the Spaniard back into contention. Italy made up 14% of the field and they really started to make their presence felt around the Level 21 mark when Francesco Notaro, Marco Bognanni and Alessandro Longobardi all made an assault at the top of the leaderboard.
The floodgates opened and a lot of the field was eliminated in very quick succession. The first to go was one of the characters of this tournament, Roberto Romanello, and he was followed by exits from LeFrancois, Team PokerStars Pro Leo Fernandez and Paul Berende. Then finally, De Meulder found himself on the wrong end of an all-in and was also eliminated.
As the clock struck 21:30, Pantaleo found himself in a blind versus blind battle with Kristoffer Thorsson and it resulted in all of the chips going into the pot. Pantaleo had pocket kings and Thorsson ace-ten. It's possible a similar scenario entered their minds when they were writing their own stories this morning. In Thorsson’s mind, he spiked an ace and took the chip lead going into Day 4. In Pantaleo’s mind, the board ran out low and he took the chip lead into Day 4. When the dust was settled and the cards laid out flat by the dealer, it was Giuseppe Pantaleo whose story came true as his kings held up and he took the chip lead at the end of the day with 2,309,000 in chips.
Play resumes at noon local time on Friday where they'll play down to the final table of eight.
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