€25,500 High Roller
€25,500 High Roller
Day 2 Completed

Connor Drinan Leads Final Table; Fellow American Dani Stern Not Far Behind

Chad_Holloway • Level 20: 8,000-16,000, 2,000 ante
Connor Drinan
Connor Drinan

Day 2 of the 2015 PokerStars.com Season 11 European Poker Tour Malta €25,000 High Roller saw 40 survivors return from the previous day's action. With a pair of late entrants, the total field jumped to 88 entries and created a prize pool of €2,156,000. Of that, €572,300 is reserved for the eventual winner.

The man best positioned to capture it is Connor Drinan, who finished as chip leader after nearly 10 levels of play. Joining him at the final table of eight are fellow Americans Dani Stern (827,000) and Nick Petrangelo (179,000); Poland's Dzmitry Urbanovich (734,000) and Piotr Franczak (612,000); Canadians Sam Greenwood (431,000) and Daniel Dvoress (367,000); and German Martin Finger (358,000).

Drinan, 25, is a serial EPT qualifier dating back to Season 4 when he was just 18 years old. The American, who relocated to Mexico to play online poker, made the trip to EPT Malta Poker Festival after winning his Main Event seat online five days ago. Drinan has amassed $2.4 million in live tournament winnings – despite suffering what has been described as "the worst bad beat in tournament history" in last year's World Series of Poker's Big One For One Drop when he lost aces to aces.

His fourth-place finish in the APPT Macau Super High Roller last November gave him a lifetime best cash of $657,605, and only a few weeks ago he had a monster score in a turbo high roller in Los Angeles for $371, 719. It looks like another six-figure score could be in the cards.

Drinan began the day ninth in chips, and all he did was go up from there. For instance, in Level 13, Pratyush Buddiga raised to 7,000 on the button and called when Drinan three-bet to 20,500 from the small blind. The {8-Diamonds}{5-Diamonds}{7-Clubs} flop saw Drinan check and Buddiga move all in for a little under 100,000. Drinan called.

Buddiga: {8-Spades}{9-Spades}
Drinan: {a-Diamonds}{7-Diamonds}

Buddiga flopped top pair with a gutshot straight draw, while Drinan held middle pair with a flush draw. The {3-Spades} turn was of no consequence, but the {A-Spades} river was. Drinan spiked two pair and was pushed the robust pot.

PokerNews Managing Editor Chad Holloway actually caught up with Drinan a little before that hand to see how his day was going. Listen here:

Eliminations like that of Buddiga was the order of the day as dozens of players needed to go before the money was reached at the top 13. Among those to leave empty handed were Tobias Reinkemeier, Mustapha Kanit, Steve O'Dwyer, Ole Schemion, Jose Carlos Garcia, Davidi Kitai, and Ukraine's Oleksii Khoroshenin, the winner of the 2014 EPT Vienna Main Event.

Khoroshenin began the day as chip leader, but he lost lots of chips early on to Petrangelo. Then, in Level 14 (2,000/4,000/500), he check-raised all in on a flop of {3-Hearts}{8-Spades}{3-Clubs} with the {5-Diamonds}{8-Diamonds} and Ramin Hajiyev called off with the {J-Hearts}{J-Diamonds}. Neither the {6-Hearts} turn nor {2-Hearts} river helped Khoroshenin, and he sent all but 15,000 of his chips across the table.

Not long after, Khoroshenin shoved the button and got called by Philipp Gruissem in the big blind. The German held the {6-Spades}{5-Clubs} and was looking to outflop Khoroshenin's {9-Clubs}{J-Diamonds}. That's just what happened too as the flop came {6-Hearts}{Q-Clubs}{4-Hearts}. Gruissem's pair held, and that was all she wrote for Khoroshenin.

Upon returning from the dinner break, the final 14 players were on the money bubble. Dvoress was the short stack, but he managed a double to extend his tournament life. That left Sorel Mizzi as the short stack. He managed to get it all in preflop holding the {a-Spades}{10-Clubs}, but was dominated by the {a-Clubs}{j-Diamonds} of Drinan. The {8-Spades}{2-Hearts}{10-Diamonds} flop was kind to Mizzi, but his lead proved short lived as the dealer burned and turned the {J-Clubs}. The {4-Clubs} river sealed his fate, and Mizzi earned the infamous title of "bubble boy."

From there, the in-the-money eliminations began to mount including those of Gruissem (13th - €43,100), Andreas Eiler (12th - €43,100), Agshin Rasulov (11th - €46,400), Jeff Rossiter (10th - €46,400), and Hajiyev (9th - €60,400). With just eight players remaining, action was halted for the night.

EPT Malta €25K Final Table

SeatNameChip Count
1Piotr Franczak612,000
2Dani Stern827,000
3Sam Greenwood431,000
4Daniel Dvoress367,000
5Nick Petrangelo179,000
6Connor Drinan893,000
7Martin Finger358,000
8Dzmitry Urbanovich734,000

The third and final day will commence at 12:30 p.m. local time, and play will continue until a winner is determined. There won't be a live stream for this particular event, but you can follow all the final table updates right here in the PokerNews Live Blog. In the meantime, check out Sarah Herring's interview with Drinan below:

Tags: Connor Drinan

Ramin Hajiyev Eliminated in 9th Place (€60,400)

Webjoker • Level 20: 8,000-16,000, 2,000 ante
Ramin Hajiyev
Ramin Hajiyev

Ramin Hajiyev open shoved his last 210,000 to the middle from middle position. Hajiyev was kind enough to cut out his own chips, making it clear for the entire table how much it was.

Dzmitry Urbanovich in the hijack right next to him showed interest. He thought for a bit, and then tossed in a single 1,000 chip to indicate to the rest of the table he was calling. While the other players all folded, Urbanovich slid forward the calling chips.

Everyone folded and it was time to open the cards. Hajiyev got the bad news soon enough.

Ramin Hajiyev: {Q-Clubs}{Q-Hearts}
Dzmitry Urbanovich: {A-Clubs}{A-Diamonds}

The flop just about ended all hope for Hajiyev; {A-Spades}{4-Hearts}{5-Diamonds}.

The {K-Spades} on the turn made it final, the {K-Diamonds} on the river was there just to make things official.

With the departure of Ramin Hajiyev, play ended for the day. There are 31 minutes left in the level. The remaining players will be back at 12:30 p.m. local time, all already guaranteed €79,800.

Dzmitry Urbanovich pl
Dzmitry Urbanovich
pl 734,000 214,000
Ramin Hajiyev az
Ramin Hajiyev
az Busted

Tags: Ramin Hajiyev

Drinan Folds to River Raise

Webjoker • Level 20: 8,000-16,000, 2,000 ante

Dani Stern opened for 38,000 from middle position and Connor Drinan in the big blind was the only caller.

Both players checked the {Q-Hearts}{J-Diamonds}{3-Diamonds} flop, and the {A-Diamonds} hit the turn. Drinan bet out for 45,000, Stern made the call.

The {5-Clubs} completed the board and Drinan bet out 115,000. Stern contemplated his action, counted his stack,and raised to 350,000.

Drinan didn't need too much time before folding.

Connor Drinan us
Connor Drinan
us 830,000 -136,000
Dani Stern us
Dani Stern
us 822,000 140,000

Tags: Connor DrinanDani Stern

Urbanovich Loses Another

Happy_Freaked • Level 20: 8,000-16,000, 2,000 ante

Dzmitry Urbanovich raised to 35,000 on the first hand after he doubled up Martin Finger and Connor Drinan called from the big blind.

The flop came down {8-Clubs}{6-Diamonds}{4-Spades} and both players checked. The turn was the {9-Spades} and Drinan check-called 37,000. The river was the {2-Clubs} and again the action was checked.

Drink showed {K-Diamonds}{4-Hearts} and he took down the pot.

Connor Drinan us
Connor Drinan
us 966,000 66,000
Dzmitry Urbanovich pl
Dzmitry Urbanovich
pl 520,000 -80,000

Tags: Dzmitry UrbanovichMartin Finger

Double Up For Finger

Happy_Freaked • Level 20: 8,000-16,000, 2,000 ante

Martin Finger moved all in under the gun plus one for 177,000 and Dzmitry Urbanovich called after Ramin Hajiyev folded. Piotr Franczak tanked for quite some time but eventually he folded, as did the rest of the players.

Finger: {10-Spades}{10-Hearts}
Urbanovich: {A-Diamonds}{K-Spades}

The board ran out {J-Diamonds}{Q-Clubs}{J-Hearts}{8-Hearts}{4-Clubs} and Finger doubled up.

Dzmitry Urbanovich pl
Dzmitry Urbanovich
pl 600,000 -230,000
Martin Finger de
Martin Finger
de 366,000 183,000

Tags: Dzmitry UrbanovichMartin Finger


Hajiyev and Urbanovich Chop "Boring" Pot

Webjoker • Level 20: 8,000-16,000, 2,000 ante

Ramin Hajiyev opened for 28,000 from middle position and next door neighbor Dzmitry Urbanovich in the hijack three bet to 66,000.

Action folded back to Hajiyev and he thought about it for a bit. Urbanovich played with an extra chip, pretending to snap call if Hajiyev would shove.

Hajiyev did shove in the end, but Urbanovich didn't snap call. He asked for a count, got that from the dealer (268,000), and then made the call.

Ramin Hajiyev: {A-Diamonds}{Q-Diamonds}
Dzmitry Urbanovich: {A-Spades}{Q-Clubs}

"Boring" Dani Stern commented.

"Don't say that" Connor Drinan said with a smile.

"What do you know about that?" Stern laughed, hinting at Drinan's small bad beat in a tournament last summer.

The dealer did make things exciting, but in the end it was just a chop: {6-Diamonds}{4-Spades}{9-Diamonds}{A-Clubs}{10-Spades}.

Hajiyev thought he deserved the win, but just got half the pot back.

Tags: Connor DrinanDani SternDmitry UrbanovichDzmitry Urbanovich

How To Remain The Center Of Attention

MarcC • Level 20: 8,000-16,000, 2,000 ante

While in sport, teams that win easily and often can damped a viewer’s enthusiasm, in poker it’s the opposite. One such player attracting attention is Ole Schemion, who even in defeat remains a draw. But then, he’s always the center of attention, as the PokerStars Blog reports.

Tags: PokerStars Blog