After four days of late nights, the PokerStars.com EPT Barcelona reached its official final table pleasingly early today - 24 players became eight in just eight hours. Start-of-day chip leader Giuseppe Pantaleo continued his excellent run and when we reconvene to play out the final tomorrow, he will be our chip leader on 5,655,000, almost 2 million chips clear of his nearest rival.
A relatively slow start to the day soon crescendoed into a flurry of exits. Amsterdam Master Classics winner Kristoffer Thorsson was the first player to hit the rail, smacking his ace-queen into Luis Rufas' pocket kings for 24th place. LAPT Mar del Plata champion Dominik Nitsche was next to go in 23rd, pushing his short stack into the middle with queen-nine but failing to spike against Konstantin Puchkov's pocket sevens. Juan Ramon Marquez Garcia and Oscar Pelayo soon followed, as did Jose Luis Navarro Giner, Lari Sihvo, Todd Sisley and Roman Makhlin, and we were down to two tables by 3:00 P.M.
The gentleman who took the 16th place spot was Alessandro Longobardi. The Italian started the day second in the chip counts, but a big stack at the start of the day does not guarantee a good run and Longobardi eventually had his outflipped by Kent Lundmark's pocket sevens.
Marco Bognanni took his leave not long after - short-stacked, he pushed with king-five and met his end in 15th place at the hands of Pantaleo holding ace-six. The 14th place spot was quickly taken by Jani Kristian Rasinen - his pocket eights were no match for Rufas' pocket nines and he departed the tournament €28,000 richer.
Zachary Korik started the day on an auspicious 888,000, but found himself short after doubling up Georgios Skotadis, the Greek's staying ahead of Korik's all the way down the board. Korik was finished off a hand or later when his couldn't stand up to Jorge Lores' , the board running out and Korik was sent home in unlucky 13th place with €28,000 for consolation.
Lores found himself frozen out by the coldest of decks - blind on blind, Lores found pocket queens but Rufas found pocket kings. The board ran out all blanks, and Lores was out of the running, €36,000 richer than he came in.
Ognjen Sekularac was crippled in a curious hand where Francisco Notaro raised and Sekularac reraised. Notaro flat-called, and they saw a queen-high flop. Sekularac shoved with and Notaro snap-called him with pocket jacks for a huge double up. Down to little more than an ante, Sekularac busted out the next hand and claimed 11th place for €36,000.
After somewhat of a lull in the all-in action, 10th place was eventually taken by Luis Rufas for €50,000 - the second year in a row that Rufas has cashed in this event, taking 41st place here last year. The Spanish player lost a big pot with an ace-high flush against Pantaleo's straight flush (which propelled Pantaleo back into the lead), but Rufas' real problems began when he got involved with WSOP bracelet winner Konstantin Puchkov. The flop read when the chips went in, Rufas' playing Puchkov's . Rufas briefly moved into the lead on the turn, which gave him two pair, but Barry Greenstein would have approved if he'd been here as there was an on the river. Puchkov made a set, and Rufas plummeted to just 10,000. It went in the next hand with raggy offsuit and he was picked off by Giuseppe Pantaleo holding a pair of nines.
Down to a single, nine-handed unofficial final table, it took almost an hour to lose the last player of the day. The final table bubble spot was finally occupied by Frenchman Candido Gonçalves. Gonçalves raised and then four-bet all in to a reraise from Jesus Cortes Lizano. Lizano called holding pocket while Gonçalves could only boast . The board wasn't enough to save him, and Gonçalves returns home to France with €50,000 for his efforts.
It's a relatively anonymous eight who will be taking their seats at the EPT final table tomorrow, but that doesn't mean it's not going to be fun. Among those still in with a shot at the top spot are Konstantin Puchkov, who won a bracelet in H.O.R.S.E. at this summer's WSOP. Also worthy of particular note is Kent Lundmark - though his live results are sparse, they're good, and include 29th place at the PCA and sixth place in a €1,000 side event at EPT Tallinn. Lundmark has also long been touted as one of the best online players in Sweden, so it will be interesting to see how he gets on tomorrow.
When we return, the lineup will look like so:
|1||Jesus Cortes Lizano||3,800,000|
|4||Shander De Vries||3,120,000|
PokerNews will be back in the press room a the Casino de Barcelona from noon CET tomorrow to bring you all the action. Join us then.
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