Almost half the starting field - 299 players - survived their respective PokerStars European Poker Tour Grand Final Day 1s and were consolidated into Day 2 at the Casino Gran Madrid Monday. Serial EPT online qualifier David Sonelin was in the lead at the start of the day with 275,900, but by the end it all changed. Sonelin made it into the money but finished up below average. In his place at the top was the Day 1b chip leader, baby-faced Norwegian Ole Kristian Nergard. Amsterdam Master Classics winner Kristoffer Thorsson is just behind him in second place after staging a dramatic comeback from his short stack at the start of the day.
Day 2 is not a happy place to be if you're a short stack, and the exits came thick and fast. Arnaud Mattern was among the early casualties. Coming back with just 17,500, he got it in almost immediately with pocket threes but was counterfeited by his opponent's on a board and swiftly hit the rail. Others who fell short of the money included Michael Keiner, Humberto Brenes, Pieter de Korver, Kevin Stani, David Vamplew, Florian Langmann, Leo Margets, Noah Boeken and reigning champion Nicolas Chouity.
The plan for the day was to play six levels, but when the sixth level ended, the bubble, (Jean Thorel, was all-in on the last hand of Level 15, but to the dismay of the other players and tournament staff alike, he doubled up and the decision was made to keep going until the money was hit. It was a long process, with the bubble lasting around halfway into the unscheduled seventh level of the day. At long last, the bubble burst with one Damien Rony the unhappiest, yet most popular, man in the room. He pushed with against Ivan Freitez's pocket jacks and couldn't spike on the raggy board. Rony gets nothing, but everyone else will come back tomorrow with at least €15,000 to look forward to.
The climber of the day award had to go to Amsterdam Master Classics winner Kristoffer Thorsson. The Swede returned to Day 2 with just 21,800, less than the Day 1 starting stack. Within a few hours he was flirting with the chip lead. The bulk of his stack came from an enormous double-up through Brian England, cracking England's kings with queens, and then finishing the luckless American off a few hands later when he found queens again, England this time moved in with preflop. Later in the day, he knocked out another two players, one of them, Sami Kelopuro, to put himself up to around 600,000. By the end of the day, he was in second place with 701,500 — an astonishing comeback.
The overall chip leader, though, is the same young gentleman who topped the chip counts at the end of Day 1b. Ole Kristian Nergard may look as though he's not old enough to even be in the casino, but he's shown aggression and experience beyond his years, busting players left and right on Day 1b and not letting up for a moment come Day 2. He continued his chip-munching rampage all day and was never out of the top five in the chip counts. On 726,000, he is the man to beat on Tuesday.
Other big stacks include EPT Berlin champion Ben Wilinofsky, who actually had the chip lead for a while early in the day but couldn't hang on to it. He's in eighth place on 533,000. Melanie Weisner is in fifth place (543,500v) and Victor Ramdin is in 10th (494,500).
Other big names who have made it through to Day 3 include Team PokerStars SportStar Fatima Moreira de Melo and her boyfriend (also sponsored by PokerStars), Dutch tennis star Raemon Sluiter. Joining them in the middle-to-low area of the chip counts are Surinder Sunar, Tobias Reinkemeier and Ted Forrest. Aside from Ben Wilinofsky, the only former EPT Main Event winner still in is EPT Deauville champion Lucien Cohen — he's around average on 198,500.
Play will resume at 1200 CEST (0300 PDT) Tuesday and the PokerNews Live Reporting Team will be on the floor to bring you all the bust-outs.
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