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2015 EPT Malta Main Event Day 3: Trio of Brits Remain

Steve Watts, Mitch Johnson, and Carlo Citrone

Only 56 players remain in contention for the €810,400 first place prize in the 2015 European Poker Tour (EPT) Malta Main Event after 130 players fell by the wayside on Day 3.

Among those 56 surviving players are three British grinders, Mitch Johnson, Steve Watts and Carlo Citrone; all would be an extremely popular champion should they follow in the footsteps of Jake Cody, Tom Middleton, Victoria Coren-Mitchell or the host of other British stars who have secured an EPT Main Event title in the past.

Watts returns to the fray on Thursday armed with 321,000 chips, a mere 4,000 more than his fellow countryman Johnson. The former professional footballer is a popular figure on the live poker tournament circuit and one who knows his way around a poker table, as is evident by his near $700,000 in live tournament winnings.

In 2012, Watts finished fifth in the World Poker Tour (WPT) Dublin Main Event for €39,270 and followed that impressive result up with a fifth place in the Irish Open three months later for an additional €78,000.

Watts’ largest cash tops the scales at $123,597, which was his reward for a 59th place finish in the 2013 World Series of Poker (WSOP) Main Event. However, his outright victory in the 2014 WPT National Marbella Main Event, which netted him €31,000, is one that he possibly remembers most fondly thanks to returning home with a trophy and the title of champion.

Those of you who have played in any of the major UK-based poker tournaments or an EPT in the past few years will no doubt have bumped into Johnson. Although Johnson’s bread and butter are cash games, he often dips his toes into tournament poker’s waters and has dozens of cashes to his name.

Unfortunately for Johnson, a large number of those cashes are from the first few levels of the payout structure, earning him the unwanted nickname among his friends of “Min-cash Mitch.” Johnson has more than min-cashed now and has locked up at least €12,800 for his efforts so far, but with more than €800,000 awaiting the eventual champion he’ll be wanting to progress much deeper.

Newcastle’s Citrone has cashes dating back to 2001, cashes that add up to more than $950,000. The former Sky Poker analyst may only have 136,000 chips in his stack (around 13 big blinds), but he is wily enough to grind that short stack to a more workable one and if he does that who knows what could happen.

Day 3 Top 10 Chip Counts

1Javier Gomez1,698,000
2Valentin Messina1,362,000
3Alexander Ivarsson1,199,000
4Jorma Nuutinen1,121,000
5Manuel Zapf1,086,000
6Bruno Volkmann903,000
7Sergio Aido833,000
8Andrea Cortellazzi799,000
9Glib Kovtunov744,000
10Nir Levy719,000

Top of the pile at the resumption of the tournament is Spain’s Javier Gomez and his 1,698,000 stack. Gomez is one of many Spanish nationals now residing in the UK so they can continue their online poker careers, another being Sergio Aido (833,000) who finds himself in seventh place in the chip counts when the cards are back in the air.

Finland’s Jorma Nuutinen is one to watch going into Day 4. The quiet and reserved grinder is an exceptional talent, one that has two EPT Main Event final tables (and one final table bubble) to his name and now that he has 1,121,000 chip in his possession it would take a brave man to bet against him reaching final table number three.

Others to look out for on our live reporting pages include Russia’s Andrey Shatilov (702,000), Canadian duo Noah Vaillancourt (629,000) and Sam Chartier (536,000), former EPT Main Event winners Robin Ylitalo (487,000) and Jannick Wrang (433,000), Fedor Holz (422,000), Ignat Liviu (312,000), JC Alvarado (274,000), Yann Dion (266,000), and Dominik Panka (176,000).

Play resumes at noon local time (11am UK) and continues until either five 90-minute levels are completed or only 16 players remain, whichever comes first. Head over to the PokerNews Live Reporting pages to follow all of the action from the 2015 EPT Malta Main Event.

Before we sign this article off we have to give a nod to Stephen Chidwick who chopped a €2,000 buy-in side event with Team PokerStars Pro Eugene Katchalov for €102,100 before going on to win another title. Top work, Mr Chidwick.

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