In what was a quick day of play at the Casino Gran Madrid in Spain, the European Poker Tour has determined the final eight men who will compete for the final championship on the season seven schedule. Unfortunately, that EPT final table will take place with no Canadian presence this year.
With 47 players to go Tuesday evening, the final few Canadians took their respective walks from the felt with a small payday. First to head out was EPT Berlin champion Ben Wilinofsky, who was looking to become the first ever two-time champion of the EPT. Hovering around 500K in chips most of the day, Ben doubled up a couple of players to turn his once large chip stack small. He was able to double up on the bad end of a race once but, against Gerardo Godinez’ A-10, Ben’s A-9 couldn’t pull off the double up a second time. When all the smoke cleared, Ben Wilinofsky was eliminated in 44th place.
After Wilinofsky’s dismissal, the flood gates opened and the remaining Canadians headed for the door of the Casino Gran Madrid. Samir Moukawem was on the wrong end of a cooler when his pocket Queens ran into Kjartan Berger Jonsson’s pocket Kings and, once the board ran dry, departed in 43rd place.
Moments later, Daniel Idema held a 7-6 of diamonds on a two diamond flop against Jose Nadal’s flopped Broadway straight. Although he held nine outs to trump Nada’s straight, Idema couldn’t coax another diamond on the turn or river and was eliminated in 41st place.
Carrying the Canadian banner deep into Day Three was Phillipe Boucher, who stayed under the radar for much of the Day Three action. With play scheduled to end with the final 24 players, Boucher put the remainder of his chips in action after Eugene Katchalov raised. Undaunted, Juan Maceiras three bet on top of Boucher and forced Katchalov to drop his hand.
When the cards were tabled, Phillipe’s pocket fours were dominated by the two red Kings held by Juan. Although the flop and turn gave Boucher a shot at a spade flush, the magical fourth spade didn’t come on the river and Phillipe Boucher was out in 28th place.
With no Canadians remaining in the field, the final 24 picked up Day Four play on Wednesday looking to get to the eight handed final table. Eugene Yanayt was in the chip lead, holding 2.3 million chips, while Torsten Brinkmann, Simon Higgins, Maceiras and Ivan Freitez rounded out the top five.
Over the span of seven hours on Wednesday, the 24 player field was whittled away quickly to the eight men who will play for the championship of the EPT Grand Final tomorrow. Day One chip leader Ole Kristian Nergard was the first victim of the day, with his pocket tens falling to Nadal’s pocket Queens. Following the elimination of Nergard, Team PokerStars Pro Victor Ramdin and Raemon Sluiter were shown the door, with each of the first three eliminations earning €40,000 for their efforts.
Nadal could not sustain his drive to the final table, falling in 19th place at the hands of Litterio Pirrotta. Nadal entered a race situation, his A-K versus Pirrotta’s pocket eights, and couldn’t buy a King or Ace on the board. Pirrotta himself became a victim of the Day Four action moments later when he ran an A-2 into Ankush Mandavia’s A-6 and was eliminated in 17th place.
Just before the players stepped off for dinner in Madrid, the United Kingdom’s Simon Higgins went from the chip lead to out of the tournament. Pedro Pellicer’s Big Slick outraced Higgins’ pocket nines in a pivotal 3.5 million pot, then Higgins sent the remainder of his chips to the center with his Big Chick (A-Q) hammered by Ivan Freitez’ A-K. In a matter of minutes, Higgins went from the top of the mountain to the depths of despair, eliminated in twelfth place.
The massive hand with Higgins pushed Pellicer into the chip lead with eleven players remaining. Yanayt, Andrew Li, Maceiras and Brinkmann round out the Top Five and Tamas Lendval and Alessandro Limblici sit as the short stacks. With only three more eliminations to go to determine the final table, the survivors of Day Four will have ample opportunity to rest up before competing on Thursday afternoon in Spain for the €1.5 million first place prize and the title of European Poker Tour Grand Final champion.
By EARL BURTON