Matt Marafioti, Mike McDonald Final Two Canadians In EPL Main Event

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The Epic Poker League Main Event has worked through its second day of play, with Canada’s Matt Marafioti and Mike McDonald making huge moves through the field to move in contention for the championship.

Fifty players began the day on Wednesday, chasing leaders Jaime Kaplan and Daniel O’Brien for the coveted EPL championship. The day would be a short one, with only five levels scheduled, so there was plenty of action on the tables. Unfortunately for one Canadian contender, Greg “FBT” Mueller, the day would be bad from the start.

“Day 2 @EpicPokerLeague moments away!” Greg Tweeted prior to the start of action on Wednesday. “I feel like dog poop! Very little sleep and my back is sooo f****d. In so much pain, no shot today!” Greg’s Tweet turned out to be very prophetic as, less than three hours into the Day Two action, Greg was eliminated at the hands of French poker professional Fabrice Soulier.

There were a couple of players that were able to pick up the Canadian flag for Greg, however. Matt Marafioti started out the action on Wednesday in 43rd place among the fifty players remaining and immediately went on the march to the top of the leaderboard. By the end of play Wednesday evening, Matt had been able to move from 38K in chips to 302,000, good for fifth place in the tournament. Although Matt has had some significant runs in his tournament poker career, a win here on the EPL would be his first major poker tournament victory.

Also in the mix as Day Three begins this afternoon is Waterloo’s Mike “Timex” McDonald. Mike has spent much of the tournament hiding from any high profile engagements with his fellow pros (something difficult to do with every table holding high profile players) but he has also used that tactic to slowly build a viable stack. When the cards fly this afternoon, Mike will be in sixteenth place with his 159K in chips.

With 23 players remaining in the tournament, the top of the leaderboard has changed dramatically. Choosing to play in the EPL tournament instead of in his home country of France for the World Poker Tour Grand Prix de Paris, Soulier was a one man wrecking crew as he surged to the top of the ladder. He knocked out such players as Mike Sowers, Ralph “Rep” Porter, James Mackey and Andrew Robl (along with Greg) on his way to amassing 453,500 in chips, good for the lead.

Two members of the first EPL final table are also looking to make history by making this tournament’s final table. Inaugural EPL champion David “Chino” Rheem might have some work to do, as he currently sits eighteenth with 136K in chips, but the player he beat for the first EPL title, Erik Seidel, is in much better shape. Seidel began the Day Two action with slightly more than 91K in chips, but a big hand against Robl (prior to his elimination) drove the 2010 Poker Hall of Fame inductee over the 400,000 chip mark. He finished the day with 353,500 in chips and is in third place.

When Day Three begins at noon (Pacific Time) today, the Top Ten will look like this:

1. Fabrice Soulier (London, the United Kingdom), 453,500

2. David Steicke (Hong Kong, China), 436,000

3. Erik Seidel (Las Vegas, NV), 353,500

4. Nam Le (Tustin, CA), 306,000

5. Matt Marafioti (Toronto, Canada), 302,000

6. Dutch Boyd (Las Vegas, NV), 262,000

7. Adam Levy (Los Angeles, CA), 253,500

8. Chris Moore (Chicago, IL) 250,000

9. Jaime Kaplan (Las Vegas, NV), 245,000

10. Isaac Baron (Menlo Park, CA), 217,500

There is still some work to be done on Thursday before the final table determines a champion tomorrow. Of the 23 players remaining, only twelve will take home something for their efforts at the Palms Casino Resort. Besides bursting the money bubble, the final eight in this Eight Handed No Limit Hold’em format will be determined tonight, with the eventual champion taking down a nice payday of $782,410.

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Earl Burton is a veteran journalist in the poker industry, having covered the game since 2004. He has played the game much longer, however, starting out playing in family games at a very early age. He has covered tournaments across the United States, including the World Poker Tour, the World Series of Poker and various charitable events. Earl’s background includes writing for some of the top poker news sites in the industry as well as other poker media outlets that include Poker Player Newspaper and Canadian Poker Player Magazine. Earl keeps an unblinking eye on the poker world, offering coverage of news from the industry, tournament action, player interviews, strategy and his opinions on the game. Whenever possible, Earl will also step to the tables to demonstrate that there’s more than just writing talent behind his poker game!

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