European Poker Tour Prague Day 3: MacPhee Takes the Lead

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Kevin MacPhee

Day 3 of the European Poker Tour Prague Main Event is in the bag after the 93 starters were whittled down to just 23 over eight hours of play. Of the players who returned to the felt this afternoon, 13 left empty handed with no cash prize to show for their efforts, though the most painful exit was endured by Domink Nitsche who will go down in the record books as the 81st-place finisher, or bubble boy as many will call him.

One of the early casualties was EPT Vilamoura champion Toby Lewis who committed his stack with AJ but ran straight into the QQ of Melanie Weisner. One by one, players lost chips until the TV screens around the vast tournament area showed 81 players left. At that point, tournament director Thomas Kremser told his dealers to play hand for hand.

On Table 10, Nitsche opened with a bet of 12,000 and then quickly moved all-in over the top of Sami Souleiman's reraise to 52,000. Souleiman made the call and then shrieked when he found his 1010 in great shape against his German opponent's 88. The board ran out J54AJ and everyone else who had chips was guaranteed to go home with at least €8,000 while Mr. Nitsche received a round of applause and a few handshakes. Hardly seems fair does it?

The turning point of the tournament occurred four hours into the day when Kevin MacPhee, the 2010 EPT Berlin winner, eliminated Dirk Richter, the man who led after both Day 1b and Day 2. On a flop reading K27, Richter checked, MacPhee bet 33,500 and Richter moved all-in. MacPhee quickly called and turned over KJ for top pair while Richter revealed A9 for a complete bluff. No ace on the turn or river, and MacPhee became the first player to surpass one million chips.

At the start of level 23, there were 26 players remaining, but within five minutes, three players had been eliminated to bring the day to a close. First Team PokerStars Pro Marcin Horecki busted out not one but two players in the same hand when his KK was too strong for Salvatore Irace's J10 and Rasmus Nielsen's QQ. This double elimination dropped the player count to 24, enough to pause the tournament, but fate had one last trick waiting.

On the very last hand of the day Dutchman Rob Hollink raised to 35,000 under the gun and Helen Prager moved all-in to his immediate left. Then, from the small blind, Ion Pavel reshoved over the top, forcing Hollink to fold. Pavel turned over JJ and was in danger of being eliminated as Prager held QQ. He received some help on a 910J flop, but Prager filled her straight with the arrival of the 8 in the turn. But the drama was not over as the J landed on the river to give Pavel quad jacks! With that, the tournament was paused and the players bagged and tagged their chips to wait for the noon start on Friday.

Sitting proudly atop the chip counts is Kevin MacPhee who hasn't looked back since breaking through the one-million-chip barrier and will return to the felt tomorrow armed with 2,096,000 chips. Hot on his heels is Jan Bendik on 1,846,000 and Peter Skripka on 1,216,000.

Also in with a chance of winning the €640,000 first prize is Team PokerStars Pro Salvatore Bonavena, who incidently won this very tournament two years ago, and his two PokerStars teammates Richard Toth and Marcin Horecki.

Play resumes at noon local time so be sure to tune back into for the very best in live tournament coverage.

There is still time to play in our final $15,000 Sunday Million Freerollon PokerStars in the current series, but hurry as you have to qualify this month.

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