Monday, Day 2 of the PokerStars.com European Poker Tour Barcelona, turned out to be relatively short by EPT standards. Six 75-minute levels were completed, and the pace of the action seemed to make the day pass even more briskly than it otherwise would have. At the end of the day, France's Xavier Carruggi held the fullest chip bag in the room, and his stack of 577,700 is the one everyone will be chasing on Day 3.
Things began innocently enough with half of the starting field — 407 players, to be exact — returning to the Casino de Barcelona for the push toward the money. Within minutes, though, a flood of players headed right back out through the exit doors as a steady downpour of eliminations took place. More than 60 players were sent off in the first level; another 60 went during the second level. At the end of the night, 141 remained with the money bubble approaching in a hurry. The final 120 players with chips will earn paychecks this week.
So what happened, then? First, Saar Wilf won a pot so big it might be two days before we see another one like it. It began with a limper and three-way action, and Wilf ended up turning the big flush on the board. He was working with , and Victor Ghenadi gave Wilf all the action he could've asked for. By the time the showdown arrived, there were 750,000 chips and more than 300 big blinds piled in the middle of the table. Ghenadi never showed his cards, but they certainly couldn't beat the nut flush, and Wilf leapfrogged himself to the front of the pack just like that. A cooling off period followed, but he still finished up with 430,700 with which to apply the pressure tomorrow. That's good enough for fourth place overall as the field charges down the backstretch of this event.
Others who will be wielding big stacks to begin Day 3 include Tony Petterson, Martin Schleich, Raul Mestre, and the pink-haired Guillaume Darcourt. Darcourt has two prior EPT cashes, both rather small ones. But he's on a bit of a heater these days, fresh off his deep run in the WSOP Main Event, where at times, he looked like he might run away with that event, but he was cooled off in a huge pot during Day 7. He was forced to settle for a 35th-place paycheck worth almost a quarter-million dollars. He's gunning for an EPT trophy this week, and his stack of 380,100 puts him in fine shape right now — seventh place overall.
Oh, and then there's Vanessa Selbst. The Team PokerStars Pro and double NAPT champion has her sights fixed firmly on this EPT field, and she may well be the betting favorite to win at this stage. She began the day at one of the tougher tables in the room but quickly did her part to make her life easier. A few orbits into the day, she tallied a double knockout when her held strong against the matching ace-queens of James Mitchell and Marcin Horecki.
Just like that, two dangerous players were sent off, and Selbst's was just getting started. Fellow big stack Michael Schurpf was her next victim. He and Selbst both stacked enough to get a huge pot all-in preflop. Schurpf's aces were a big favorite against Selbst's queens, but a third queen on the river shot her up to the top of the counts. She ended the day with a top-ten stack of 364,500 chips.
Not everyone had such good fortune, though. Another Team Pro, Arnaud Mattern, was one of the first to fall. He'd do it the same way all over again if he could. Mattern had a chance to triple up when his shove with pocket kings was called down by both pocket tens and ace-ten. The ace dropped, as did Mattern, and he was soon followed out the door by Matt Waxman, Luca Pagano, Melanie Weisner, Nacho Barbero, Jason Mercier, and Sebastian Ruthenberg among others.
The 141 players who did manage to stave off elimination will be back inside the tournament room on Tuesday when they attempt to play down to 24 players. It figures to be a long day if that goal is to be met, but nobody seems to mind as the action continues to heat up at the EPT Barcelona.