Day Two of the Epic Poker League’s $20,000 Six Handed No Limit Hold’em event is in the books, with Gavin Smith the lone Canadian who will walk away from the Palms Casino Resort with anything to show for his efforts.
Play began on Wednesday with 63 players still remaining from the 137 player field. Although these were some of the biggest names in the game, 45 of them would not earn the historic achievement of cashing in the first EPL event. From the start of play Wednesday, it was obvious that several players were looking to make their moves and it resulted in the departure of players such as Dwyte Pilgrim, Dan Shak, Vanessa Selbst and James Van Alstyne early Wednesday afternoon.
Two players that Canadian poker fans were following, Sorel Mizzi and Matt Marafioti, were also a part of the early carnage. While Thomas Marchese caught Sorel in a race to provide for Sorel’s elimination, Matt fought on after a tough hand against Chino Rheem where he was forced to lay his cards down after a third diamond completed a flush draw. The twosome would clash again, with Matt’s A-K and tournament existence on the line against Chino’s mediocre holding of J-10. A ten on the flop handed the lead to Chino and another ten on the turn locked up the hand, sending Matt to the rail.
On the other end of the equation, Gavin Smith moved deftly through the action on Wednesday. He was responsible for Pilgrim’s early elimination and steadily worked his way through Day 2 play. Late in the evening, Gavin, holding an A-10 of diamonds, was way behind Michael Martin’s Big Slick, but was able to earn the victory when three diamonds hit the board.
At this point, Gavin was sitting on around 220K in chips, but he would give a double up to Brandon Myers to drop down to around 150K. Then, what could be called Gavin’s penultimate hand came down. Late in the evening, Gavin clashed with Huck Seed on an 8-4-3-Q-Q board. Calling all the way for his final chips, Gavin turned up an A-Q for runner-runner trips. All the 1996 WSOP Championship Event winner could do was show his pocket Aces and begrudge his luck for having Gavin stay all the way to the river. After that pivotal hand, Gavin rocketed up to 340K, while Seed dropped to 54K.
The money bubble burst early Thursday morning, with Matt Graham and Chino Rheem squaring off in the final hand of the night. After Chino pushed his stack to the center, Matt called for less and turned up pocket Jacks against Chino’s K-J of clubs. Unfortunately for Graham, the board brought three clubs to pulverize his Jacks and send him into the Vegas night with no cash to show for his nineteenth place finish.
With the final eighteen players determined, everyone is guaranteed a minimum $43,190 for their work this week. In something that you don’t see at a tournament every day, the remaining players took a vote and decided to move enough money from the second place finisher in the tournament to the first place finisher, ensuring that the winner of the first-ever Epic Poker League tournament will earn a $1 million payday.
Gavin Smith will be one of the players with a shot at that million dollar payday, with his 357,500 in chips putting him in tenth place. Rheem’s path of destruction throughout the day landed him in the ninth place slot, but everyone is looking up at the United Kingdom’s Sam Trickett, who is the only player over the million chip mark with 1.032 million. Looking to make a move against Trickett are Hasan Habib (646K), Isaac Baron (637,500), Erik Seidel (609K) and Adam “Roothlus” Levy (587K), who round out the Top Five.
Thursday’s action at the Palms Casino Resort will determine the first ever final table for an Epic Poker League event. However the final eighteen men determine the final table, it should be a star-studded event when it plays out on Friday night and crowns the first champion in the EPL’s history!