After more than 1,200 players gathered at the Dusk Till Dawn casino to create the richest UKIPT stop in history and with some 330 of them surviving through the minefields of the first three qualifying days, following Day 2 yesterday only 49 of them remain in the hunt for a seat at the final table today.
The money bubble was set to burst yesterday when the tournament reached 183 players, and as the bubble time was approaching, there was the usual tension in the room, especially felt by those with shorter stacks, who were all trying to hang in there until they could at least ensure a payday of any kind. The eventual unluckiest of the unlucky was Edward Clark, who fell in 184th spot, claiming the unfortunate title of the bubble boy. This marked the end of phase one for those still in, as they were all now in the money. Phase 2 revolved around the idea of accumulating the maximum number of chips to return with today.
Some of the notable names who fell before reaching the money included Dermot Blain and Max Silver. Others, like Jake Cody, managed to squeeze their way into the prizes, but were eliminated soon after. This list includes Fatima de Melo, Martins Adeniya and 2013 EPT Barcelona champion Tom Middleton.
As they fell one by one, when the last hand was announced by the tournament director, there were 49 players still holding on to their stacks. Of these remaining players, returning today with the biggest hopes is Spaniard Juan Benito with a stack of nearly 1.5 million. He is followed by Brit Ben Vinson with about 1.2 million and William Eliot sitting on 1.8 million chips. Derek Murray managed to survive the day, but just barely, as his stack at the end was only 21,000 with blinds standing at 6,000/12,000, so he will need a miracle to stay alive.
There aren’t that many really big names still in, but those who sound more familiar include Ryan Spittles, Jonas Lauck and Tim Blake. All of them will be battling it out for their seat at the final table scheduled to take place tomorrow. With more than £1,000,000 in the prize pool, the winner is set to take home £218,300, so there will be no cutting slack at the green felt today.
In a couple of hours, the mix of skill and the luck of the draw will determine those who will be walking away with a smile and their hopes still alive, while sending forty other players to the rail, probably with a comforting saying in their minds – you can’t win them all.