With 49 players returning today to play down to the final eight, it could have gone either way in terms of how long it would take. It turned out no one was ready to give up their claim to the first place prize, so although the tournament started around noon, it went well into evening before play concluded for the day.
We couldn’t call the action particularly fast and furious but it wasn’t slow either. Some two and a half hours into the day, the field was down to 32 players, and if that pace continued, the final table would likely be formed before sunset. But as it is usually the case, the play was getting slower as the final table was looming closer, so it took another hour and a half to lose another eight players and get down to the final three tables and another two hours before getting to the final sixteen.
This process naturally had to send a few of the hopefuls to the rail, including Vincent Campbell, Jonathan Slater and Jonas Lauck. Of those remaining when the two tables were formed, Juan Benito, who started the day as the chip leader, was still leading the way and his advantage over the field had actually increased.
Eliminations continued and Benito kept building his stack. Amongst those falling close to making it were Benjamin Carpenter in 14th and Derek Murray in 13th. Finally, it got down to the last nine players after a bit more than ten hours of play and everybody knew it wouldn’t take long now. Still, they probably did not expect it would all be over the very next hand. The unofficial final table of nine was formed, players took their seats and cards were dealt. Terry Carter was probably all too happy to see pocket Kings his very first hand after the merger, but got the bad news when Ryan Spittles found pocket Aces to look him up. To make things worse, the poker gods decided to play a cruel joke on Carter, as the flop brought a King, putting him well on the way to doubling up, and then crushing his dreams as an Ace made an appearance on the turn.
With Carter’s departure, which still ensured him £16,100, the final eight were ready to bag and tag their chips for the night and go for a well-deserved rest before the start of the final table at 2 PM tomorrow. Surprisingly, Juan Benito, who held the lead for the entire day, fell into second place when it was time to wrap up, with 4,385,000 chips. It was the United Kingdom’s William Elliot who managed to find his way into the chip lead as night was drawing to an end, and he will be returning tomorrow with 5,625,000. Duncan McLellan and Ryan Spittles are three and four in chips, sitting at around 3.3 million both. They are followed by Anthony Flynn and Angelo Milioto, both very close to one another with around 2.4 million. Ramey Shaio is seventh in chips with nearly 1.8 million, while the title of final table short stack belongs to Trevor Pearson, who is the only player under a million with 965,000.
Mathematical odds weigh in favor of a UK champion, as of eight players returning tomorrow, only the Spaniard Benito does not hail from the United Kingdom. Tomorrow we will get a final answer who will be talking home a really impressive £218,300 in first prize money and we are certain to witness quite a battle, as the first to bust will take home only £20,800, so no one will certainly be in a rush to go home tomorrow!