Day 3 of the European Poker Tour Malta Main Event saw 186 of a 895-player field return for five 90-minute levels of play, during which time the money bubble burst and the top 127 earned a piece of the €4,340,750 prize pool. By the time players bagged and tagged for the night, just 56 remained in contention for the €810,400 first-place prize.
After the dust had settled, it was Spain's Javier Gomez Zapatero and his stack of 1.698 million leading the way.
Day 3 Top 10 Chip Counts
|1||Javier Gomez Zapatero||1,698,000|
Zapatero began his ascent in Level 15 (1,500/3,000/400) when he opened under the gun and then four-bet to 35,000 after Nandor Solyom three-bet to 15,400 from the cutoff seat. A call was made, the flop fell , and Zapatero continued for 33,000. Another call followed and Zapatero fired another 54,000 on the turn. Again Solyom called, and then the river saw both players check. Zapatero showed the for a pair of fives, and surprisingly it was good as Solyom mucked his cards. From there, Zapatero just continued to build.
Over the first two levels of the day, 59 players hit the rail without a penny to show for it including Artem Litvinov, Jan Bendik, Team PokerStars Pro Jake Cody, Sotirios Koutoupas, Sami Shetta, Senh Ung, and EPT Grand Final runner-up Jack Salter, who became free to attend the European Poker Awards, for which he is a "Breakout Player of the Year" nominee, later in the evening.
In Level 16 (2,000/4,000/500), Bulgarian Atanas Kavrakov, winner of the World Poker Tour National Cyprus back in January, was eliminated from the tournament in 128th position. It happened when he shoved his last 36,000 holding the and Brazil's Bruno Volkmann called with the . The flop gave Kavrakov an added flush draw to go with his overs, but he blanked as the turn and river were running sevens, thus guaranteeing the remaining players at least €9,120.
From there, the in-the-money eliminations came at a rapid pace and included EPT Malta €25,000 High Roller runner-up Connor Drinan; EPT veteran Dan Smith; Olivier Busquet, who was just a part of a One Drop poker delegation; Shark Cage winner Griffin Benger; high roller Sorel Mizzi; Team PokerStars Pro Jonathan Duhamel; former EPT champ Benny Spindler; the UK's Sam Trickett; and reigning World Series of Poker champ Martin Jacobson.
For a thorough look at the history of poker in Malta, check out our feature post titled EPT Malta Shakes Up Portomaso Casino's All-Time Money List.
While many fell, some notable players punched their ticket to Day 4 including Jorma Nuutinen (1.121 million), Sergio Aido (833,000), Antonin Duda (681,000), Noah Vaillancourt (629,000), Sam Chartier (536,000), former EPT London champ Robin Ylitalo (487,000), Fedor Holz (422,000), Liviu "0Human0" Ignat (312,000), JC Alvarado (274,000), and PokerStars-sponsored player Dominik Panka (176,000).
Day 4 will kick off at 12 p.m. local time on Thursday, and the plan is to either play five 90-minute levels or down to the final 16 players, whichever comes first. The PokerNews Live Reporting team will be there every step of the way.
While you wait, check out this video of Sarah Herring taking a Jeep tour of Malta: