Day 5 of the 2015 PokerStars and Monte-Carlo® Casino EPT Grand Final Main Event started with 15 players, but by the end of the night was down to the final six players. A steady stream of bustouts throughout the day saw the average amount of chips soar to around 80 big blinds, setting the stage for an exciting finale.
The six remaining players are all now guaranteed €233,500, and Lebanese Hady El Asmar leads the way with 3,955,000, just 15,000 chips over Muhyedine Fares in second place. Team PokerStars Pro Johnny Lodden is still alive with 45 big blinds, as is EPT10 Player of the Year Ole Schemion with 71 big blinds.
At the start of the day, Tom Hall was the short stack, and it was no surprise to see him fall in 15th place. He shoved from the small blind, but came up against the of Dmitry Ivanov in the big blind to bust first for €58,100.
Anton Astapau was the next to go. After being crippled in a previous hand, Astapau shoved from the big blind over Adrian Mateos’ open and the World Series of Poker Europe champ called. Astapau turned over the but was behind to Mateos’ . Astapau wouldn't improve.
With the remaining players assured a minimum of €66,500, it was a while before the tournament saw another bust out. This time it was Frenchman Romain Paon, the Day 1b chip leader, snap-calling Koichi Nozaki’s shove on a board. Nozaki turned over the , and Paon had 15 outs to survive with the . Unfortunately for him, the wasn’t one of them and he was eliminated in 13th place (€66,500).
The next two eliminations were in the same hand and it involved Juan Martin Pastor, Christopher Frank and Mateos. Ivanov raised under the gun to 52,000 and his neighbor, Pastor, three-bet to 115,000 with 380,000 behind before Mateos cold four-bet to 250,000. Frank, who was in the big blind, peeked at his cards and instantly shoved all in for 407,000. Ivanov quickly folded, and Pastor shoved over the top for 495,000 total. Mateos now had the decision, and needed some time. He did the math, and eventually said, "I have to call."
It was a massive pot, and the players weren't hiding how excited and nervous they were. Frank walked around, Pastor nervously got up from the table, only to sit down again for a bit, and Mateos knew he had slim chances of winning. El Asmar, in the meantime, repeatedly said he had folded jacks.
The flop came , about as full of blanks as they could come. The turn was anything but a blank though, putting Mateos in front to scoop it all. Frank needed a king, Pastor needed an ace, and Mateos just needed to hold. The completed the board on the river, and just like that both Frank (€66,500) and Pastor (€78,400) were heading to the exit.
None of the players wanted to bubble the unofficial final table, but Lyndon Basha, who had been quietly moving up the pay jumps, ended up being the unfortunate bubble boy. The so called "Super Vet," originally from Queensland, Australia check-raised El Asmar all in on a board and was snapped off.
"Nice hand," said Basha, as his opponent turned over the . "Picked the wrong time." Basha turned over the and the board completed giving El Asmar a full house and eliminating Basha in 10th place (€78,400).
This meant El Asmar lead the final nine with a stack of over three million chips, which equated to 128 big blinds. The final table started cautiously, with the short stack Garcia doubling first through Mateos and then Nozaki to move from short stack to the middle of the pack.
Ivanov was left cripped after losing versus Garcia’s , and a short while later moved all in under the gun for his remaining 335,000 chips. Mateos called and showed the , dominating the lower pair of tabled by Ivanov. The board completed and the official final table was set, with the eight remaining players guaranteed a six-figure pay day.
With two players scheduled to be eliminated before the end of Day 5, play was tight at the start with an average stack of 80 big blinds. However, on just the eighth hand of the final table a player fell. It happened when Nozaki open-shoved from under the gun and got called by Schemion in the big blind who showed the . Nozaki had been all smiles being the first player from Japan to make an EPT Main Event final table, and that smile failed to diminish despite the board running out to send him out the door in eighth place for €120,700.
It was a long time before the bustout that would end the day. The dinner break came and went, but 11 hands upon returning, the elimination happened when Mateos opened the cutoff with a raise to 100,000 and would soon find a whole lot of action behind him.
Markus Ross shoved his stack of 1,380,000 (27 big blinds) from the small blind, and Fares called from the big. Mateos knew enough and quickly folded.
The flop was one which brought some reason for hope. "Heart or queen," Ross said. "Running hearts. Jack of hearts would be good."
The on the turn was no help to Ross, and he was down to just the two remaining queens in the deck to stay alive. It wasn't happening though as the river was the . With that, the night came to an end.
EPT11 Grand Final Main Event Final Table
|Seat||Player||Chip Count||Big Blinds|
|2||Jose Carlos Garcia||1,435,000||29|
|4||Hady El Asmar||3,970,000||79|
The final table starts tomorrow at 2 p.m. local time with the six remaining players battling it out for the €1,082,000 first-place prize, along with the title, trophy and a SLYDE watch. You can follow the action from that event in PokerNews' dedicated live blog.