2013 EPT Grand Final Day Three: Johnny Lodden Leads, Only Player Over Million Chip Mark

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The final event of the European Poker Tour’s Season Nine schedule is heating up as the money bubble burst on Thursday at the EPT Grand Final in Monte Carlo.

After two Day Ones and a Day Two that came up short (in some ways), the final 105 players from the 531 player field came back on Thursday to get down to the serious business. Johnny Lodden started the day at the top of the heap, but Noah Schwartz, Oleksii Kovalchuk and several other top pros were ready to make things difficult for Lodden.

Over the first level of play, the short stacks tried to get some mojo going their way while Lodden held court on the EPT live streaming table (that had some difficulties but was restored). While he was there, Lodden beat up his tablemates to push his stack even further out in front, up to almost 570K in chips. Behind him, the competition was just looking to get to the money.

After that first level, there were only four spots left until the money bubble burst and the play either tightened up (if you were a short stack) or got more aggressive (if you had some chips to play with). After about thirty minutes, Chad Brown was eliminated in 82nd place ($0), when he ran his pocket Queens into Sebastian Mueller’s cooling pocket Aces. When Taylor Paur and David Vamplew were eliminated on the same hand a few moments later, Brown became the “bubble boy,” Paur and Vamplew split the minimum payday (€16,000) in the tournament and 79 other people were very happy.

After the bursting of the money bubble, the players started to flood out of the Monte Carlo Bay Hotel & Resort. Jason Mercier would take down Igor Kurganov, who was followed to the cashout cage by such notables as Per Ummer, Lauri Pesonen, Day One leader Victor Sbrissa, Emil Patel, James Mitchell, Alec Torelli and Marcin Horecki as darkness fell on the Monaco coast. Lodden, however, was masterful in his play throughout the day.

Although he would drop from the top perch for a short time, it seemed that Lodden’s stack was always on the uptick through the day’s play. One of his last hands, however, was a loss as he opened up the action and got a call from Patrick Naxache from the small blind. Grant Levy, in the big blind, was ready to duel as he pushed all in. Lodden would make the call (Naxache got out of the way), prompting Levy to ask, “You got a monster?” “I don’t have s**t,” Lodden replied as he showed A-9. Levy was still looking to catch up for his tournament life with his Q-J and it came home on the 10-3-Q flop. Once no Ace appeared on the turn or river, Levy bumped his stack to 255K while Lodden still rode high with more than 1.3 million in chips at that moment.

1. Johnny Lodden, 1.232 million
2. Steve O’Dwyer, 963,000
3. Andrew Pantling, 943,000
4. John Juanda, 939,000
5. Vasili Firsau, 837,000
6. Goran Mandic, 822,000
7. Noah Schwartz, 756,000
8. Jason Mercier, 746,000
9. Andreas Eiler, 709,000
10. Daniel Negreanu, 684,000

Although Lodden rode high through the entirety of Day Three, you can see that there are a host of strong players behind him. O’Dwyer actually held the lead at one point, while Pantling, Juanda, Schwartz and Mercier slowly worked their way up the ladder. It also seems that Negreanu, fresh of his victory in the inaugural World Series of Poker Asia/Pacific Main Event, in whipping himself into fine form not only to contend for this title but for the upcoming Las Vegas WSOP that starts at the end of the month.

34 players are remaining in the tournament, which will look to get down to the final two tables with tomorrow’s action. Saturday, they will take some time to get to the EPT final table of eight, while Sunday the next Grand Final champion will be crowned (defending champion Mohsin Charania was a Day One departure). Not only is one of the most coveted titles in the world of poker on the line this weekend, the top prize of €1.224 million will be a welcome addition to the eventual champion’s bankroll.

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