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The 2013 World Series of Poker Europe has come down to its penultimate day after a rapid Day 4 that saw the field cut to the final six men, rather than the eight that had been planned.

24 players came to the tables in France on Wednesday to determine those lucky souls who would be in contention for the title and the leaderboard was replete with top pros. Mark Teltscher, Jeremy Ausmus, Benny Spindler, Dominik Nitsche, Fabrice Soulier, Ravi Raghavan, Jordan Cristos and Ludovic Lacay were spread across the three tables, but it was Spain’s Adrian Mateos who held a slight lead over Daniel Steinberg as the cards went into the air. With plans to stop play when the official final table of eight was reached, the men went to battle almost immediately.

Lacay, who had been amongst the leaders throughout the previous days of the tournament, earned the unfortunate honor of being the first to leave the proceedings. Battling against chip leader Mateos, Lacay would get his (rather large) stack to the center and was in the lead, his pocket Kings topping Mateos’ A-Q off suit in a race situation. An Ace immediately hit on the flop, but it was joined by a Jack and a ten to give Lacay some chances at a redraw to the straight. A five and a seven came on the turn and river, however, eliminating the popular French pro in 24th place and extending Mateos’ lead.

Mateos would continue on his rampage, knocking off Cristos in 23rd place, while Nitsche inserted his name into contention by eliminating Alain Bauer in 22nd. Roman Romanovsky (21st), Hans Martin Vogt (20th), Teltscher (19th) and Flavien Guenan (18th) also found the rail with the day’s play only about three hours old.

Normally in a tournament, as the stacks get bigger late, the play will slow down. This wasn’t the case on Wednesday, however, as the players continued to fire at each other with reckless abandon. Mateos used his big stack to bluff Soulier (sitting on an impressive 1.4 million chips himself) off a hand as Nitsche bumped off Ariel Celestino in 17th place to bring the final sixteen combatants to a redraw.

Nitsche had taken the lead at this point, but it was short-lived. Mateos eliminated Ausmus in 16th place to move over the two million chip mark as Nitsche tried to keep pace in taking down Adam Jerney in 14th to move to 1.75 million chips. The twosome would also be responsible for the eliminations of Adrien Allain (13th, eliminated by Mateos) and Ivan Tikhov (11th, by Nitsche). Once Soulier had knocked out Romain Kazarian in tenth, the final nine players were set at one table.

The carnage continued as the ninth place finisher was determined before the table went to a dinner break. Soulier, using a K♣ Q♣ against Steinberg’s pocket treys, was able to catch a King on the turn and river a flush to eliminate Steinberg and, it was thought, bring an end to the day. Instead, WSOP officials decided to bring the men back after dinner and play out the remainder of the level and two more or reach the final six players, whichever came first.

After 90 minutes to regroup over some sustenance, the eight men returned and continued to fire salvos at each other. Mateos added more chips to his stack in coolering Shorr, Mateos’ pocket Aces ranking over Shorr’s pocket Kings on an eight-high board, to dump Shorr from the tournament in eighth place. Only thirty minutes later, Mateos would end the Day 4 action by eliminating Andrei Konopelko from the tournament in seventh to set today’s six-handed Championship Event battle:

1. Adrian Mateos, 3.781 million
2. Dominik Nitsche, 2.354 million
3. Fabrice Soulier, 1.871 million
4. Benny Spindler, 1.748 million
5. Ravi Raghavan, 898,000
6. Jerome Huge, 637,000

For all the talk about the WSOP-E player numbers (a subject we’ll broach after the conclusion of the event), this is a solid final table. Nitsche and Soulier are WSOP bracelet holders, while Spindler is a former European Poker Tour champion and Nitsche and Raghavan have both won World Poker Tour events. As you can see, Mateos will have his work cut out for him against this field although, with his large stack, he’ll have the ammunition for the fight.

The WSOP-E Championship Event will take the day off today as the €25,000 High Rollers event (in action at this time) wraps up its action. On Friday, the final six men will work to crown the successor to Phil Hellmuth as WSOP-E champion.

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