Day 2 of the €25,000 High Roller of the PokerStars EPT12 Malta started out with some new players jumping into action. A couple of qualifiers and late registrants bumped the total amount of entries to 74 — down a bit from EPT11's 88 entrants — making for a total prize pool of €1,813,000.
World Series of Poker 2014 November Niner Jorryt van Hoof was the first to go, but it wouldn't take long before he got some company on the rail. Philip Sternheimer, Jean-Noel Thorel, Ivan Luca and many more all made their exit before the first level was done.
Many former EPT champions fell before the tournament was even close to the money. Steve O'Dwyer couldn't win the flip with tens to Juha Helppi's king-jack, and both Antonio Buonanno and Jason Mercier lost their stacks as well.
Last season's winner, Dzmitry Urbanovich, lasted a bit longer but wouldn't go back to back. He first lost a big hand to Dan Smith when the latter hit two pair while the Polish prodigy had flopped the nut flush draw. When Urbanovich failed to improve, he was left a bit short and busted not much later to Dietrich Fast with king-jack all in preflop against kings.
With Urbanovich's exit the tournament was down to 23 players, which is when EPT11 Grand Final champ Adrian Mateos busted. As the tournament halted for a redraw, just Brian Robert's table was still in action. Roberts played a remarkable hand where he three-bet preflop and bet flop, turn, and river. After his river bet he had just a single big blind behind, but he folded to Helppi's push nonetheless. Roberts did make the redraw, but he exited soon after to Jason Wheeler, who qualified for the tournament the night before in a satellite.
While Roberts didn't make a comeback from his single big blind, Wheeler had been in a similar position and made it work. At one point Wheeler was left with four big blinds instead of just one, and his comeback proved impressive. He stayed focused, didn't rush, and a couple of double ups later was right back in it.
Meanwhile, players fell left and right, but not many of them in such spectacular fashion as Charlie Carrel. Last season's Grand Final €25,000 High Roller champion four-bet preflop, and bet small on the turn to eventually ship it all in on the turn. Byron Kaverman just called him down with aces and Carrel couldn't show more than a turned gutshot with jack-nine. He didn't hit and Carrel's punishment for the failed bluff was a place on the rail.
After Chris Hunichen four-bet shoved ace-seven into Mike "Timex" McDonald's jacks, the tournament was getting closer to the money. Start-of-day chip leader Quan Zhou didn't have the best day and soft bubbled. The unfortunate bubble boy was Mikita Badziakouski, who couldn't beat out Christopher Frank's ace-king with his queens. Frank rivered a wheel and the high roller from Belarus was the last player to leave empty handed.
Andrew Chen was the first to go to the payout desk, receiving €45,325 for his 11th-place finish after his ace-queen failed to improve against Sam Greenwood's nines.
Fast, who started out the day second in chips, received the same amount for his 10th-place finish. Just before the bubble he had turned second pair into a bluff in a big pot, but his opponent had the seconds nuts and wasn't folding. Fast was short after the bubble and gifted his last chips to Greenwood with king-ten against pocket deuces.
Before the tournament could be paused for the final redraw, another player busted on the other table. Wheeler knocked out the very short Frank, and just like that the tournament was down to eight players. Interestingly, three of the remaining eight players didn't play on Day 1 as Wheeler qualified via the aforementioned satellite and both Benjamin Pollak and Sylvain Loosli just bought in on Day 2.
The eight finalists return tomorrow at 12:30 p.m. local time for the final. All eight of them are guaranteed €67,990 at this point, but they're gunning for that first place prize of €498,575. Here's how things stack up:
|Seat||Player||Country||Chip Count||Big Blinds|
|2||Nick Petrangelo||United States||650,000||13|
|4||Jason Wheeler||United States||930,000||18.6|
|7||Byron Kaverman||United States||2,970,000||59.4|
Check back tomorrow for continuing coverage of the €25,750 High Roller from the 2015 PokerStars.com EPT Season 12 Malta. In the meantime, check out this video where Jason Wheeler shares his vision on the movement away from third party software online: