€25,500 High Roller

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

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