The plan for Day 3 was to play down from 68 to 32 players, making it four eight-handed tables coming back for today. (The event has been played eight-handed since Day 2, by the way, and the final table -- like all EPT FTs -- will be eight-handed, too.) “Miami” John Cernuto went out early on Friday, as did the last remaining woman, Liya (not Lika) Gerasimova.
Indeed, of our final 32 there are a couple of folks whom some of us knew previously -- such as Americans Andrew Malott and Alex Fitzgerald -- but most hail from Russia or the Ukraine and we only know them thanks to having followed them this week. Some characters and personalities among the bunch, though, so it will be interesting to see how things play out.
Will also be interesting to see how the reporting will go today and tomorrow, as the action will all be shot for broadcast in Europe. I assume we reporters will be on the floor today, but on Sunday the action will move to the main stage (where the week began with the drummers and dancers of the opening ceremony), and we may well be simply reporting from a live feed rather than actually being there near the final table. Whatever the case is, I’m sure all will go well, as tournament organizers have been especially conscientious of the media’s needs all week.
Play ended around seven p.m. or so last night, which meant we were pretty much done with the wrap-up work by eight o’clock or so. Then came the media tournament, sponsored by PokerStars. A neat bonus, as we got to play at the tables, with the EPT cards, chips, and dealers. The top three finishers would cash, with PokerStars promising to deposit into those players’ accounts according to a sked of $150-$100-$50.
It was probably about nine p.m. or so when cards went in the air. How’d it go? As my partner Eric (FerricRamsium) sez, “Ship it!”
Somehow yr humble gumshoe managed to negotiate his way through the field of 40 or so players to take down the sucker, the end coming a little after 2:30 a.m. I don’t think this quite rates me a page on Hendon Mob, but it will serve for a nice memory of EPT Kyiv, dontcha know. Indulge me a quick highlight reel.
Was at Eric’s table to start out (there’s a picture of him there, preparing for battle), and he immediately started mixing it up, open-raising most hands and quickly accumulating chips. Had the supremely bad fortune to draw pocket kings against another player’s pocket aces, though, which crippled him. He did exit heroically, however, going out with the “hammer” (7-2).
We actually had a somewhat slow structure for the beginning and middle stages of the tourney -- at least relative to how these type of events usually go -- with short increases in blinds (and eventually antes) and 25-minute levels. I could afford, then, to be choosy with my hand selection, and therefore didn’t get too randy early on. Picked up pocket kings myself before my initial table broke and they worked out much better for me than for Eric, scoring me a double up and some early breathing room.
Skipping ahead, there were a few instances where I got lucky, for sure, the most notable example coming in a hand about an hour-and-a-half into the tourney in which I’d picked up pocket queens. A novice player -- he’d told us all this was his first time playing poker -- had raised before the flop, I reraised him with position, and he called. The flop came jack-high (rainbow), he checked, I fairly confidently pushed all in, and he called me with A-Q offsuit. Looked pretty good for me, until an ace fell on the turn. I’d already mentally given up the hand when the case queen appeared on the river.
“Miracudiculous,” I said. Afterwards, I was asked by Marc Convey if I’d used my “one-time chip” -- invented by Stephen Bartley, who also made the final table last night. I could honestly say I had not, as once that ace fell it did not even occur to me that there was any way I’d still win the hand. (See here for more on the origin and history of the “one time chip.”)
My opponent actually had me slightly covered in that one -- something I wasn’t even completely sure about when I’d pushed, to be honest -- so the one-outer had saved my tourney life. Play continued, and eventually my other PokerNews colleagues -- Jeremy, Gloria, and John -- would all go out. And head out, too, except for Glo who ended up sticking around and giving me much-appreciated encouragement for most of the night.
Sometime after midnight we’d made it to the final table, at which point I might’ve been close to or even had the chip lead with about 17,000 of the 80,000 chips or so in play. I’d fall back to average eventually, though would build back up, and when Simon of PokerStars went out in fourth I believe I might have had the chip lead again.
At that point it was just me and two Russian players, one of whom was particularly strong -- the best player of the final trio, I think it is safe to say -- and soon he assumed the chip lead. The blinds/antes started going up more rapidly, and I’d become short (down to five or six big blinds) when I got lucky on a big hand versus the new chip leader. He’d limped in the small blind, and I checked the BB with 8-4 offsuit. The flop came J-7-4, he checked, I pushed, and he deliberated for a good while before calling with a seven. Another four then popped out on the turn, the river blanked, and I was still kicking.
Soon thereafter I was heads up with Kirill, the other Russian player, and I believe I had around a 3-2 chip advantage when we started. We went back and forth some, and I chipped up a little more. Then about eight or ten hands in, Kirill shoved from the small blind/button and I quickly called with . Kirill turned over . “Doyle Brunson,” he said with a grin. The board went , and I’d won!
The whole night was a blast. The dealers were a ton of fun, and Clement, our tourney director, was terrific, too. Shaun Deeb, fresh off of taking down the three-handed High Rollers event earlier in the day, was sweating us for a while during the breaks from the PLO event he was playing. Nikolay Evdakov (who also played the High Rollers) had come over to watch as well. In fact, Evdakov had a video camera and was filming us when we were six-handed, at which point Simon delivered an uproarious monologue to the camera explaining to Evdakov how he’d spent €20,000 to enter our tourney and was looking to challenge the Russian next.
We were up early this morning, doing a little sight-seeing and shopping before going in for the noon restart. Really my only chance at seeing something other than the hotel and the Sport Palace this week, so even though I’m short on sleep, I’m pretty wired and ready to go.
As always, be sure to follow along over on PokerNews’ live reporting page as we work down to the final eight. And while yr over there check out the coverage from APT Macau, delivered by F-Train and TassieDevil, too!