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It was payout time at the 2014 European Poker Tour (EPT) Barcelona Main Event Sunday as 292 players lined up for Day 3 knowing that only 239 of them would make the money. The player best positioned to make much more than the min-cash is Andrei Konopelko, who ended the day as the chip leader with 1,451,000 chips. It should be an exciting Day 4, though, as seven more players have at least 1,000,000 chips.

Konopelko, who hails from Belarus, has a relatively short live tournament resume (credit: TheHendonMob.com), but has put together some nice runs in major events. He has four World Series of Poker cashes in the past two years, including two final tables. His best performance came in last year’s World Series of Poker Europe Main Event, where he placed seventh for €101,000 ($136,517). Konopelko has earned a little over a quarter million dollars in live tournaments and currently ranks 456th on the Global Poker Index.

Perhaps the most interesting part of Day 3 was what happened on the bubble. Play went hand-for-hand with 240 players left, as just one more elimination was needed for the remaining players to make the money. Just one more. But one just wasn’t enough for these players on this day. Oh, no. Seven players ended up all-in across six tables. According to PokerNews.com, it started with a double all-in with Francois-Charles Scapula and Daniel Studer covered by Sylvain Loosli. Loosli’s A-K won out against Scapula’s Q-J and Studer’s Q-Q, meaning both all-in players were out of the tournament.

In a normal tournament, that would probably be the bubble right there, but this is not a normal tournament. An another table, Farid Chati flopped the “nut” flush, but he was knocked out by Martin Finger, who had flopped a straight flush. On a third table, Randal Flowers was bounced by Philippe D’Auteuil and on a fourth table, Richard Dubini was eliminated by Pawel Brzeski. Two other players at separate tables were able to double-up. So that was seven all-ins at six tables with five eliminations.

While this was exciting, it presented the question as to how to deal with it when it came to distributing prize money. The first decision was that the five players would split the money that would have been awarded to the bottom four in-the-money positions (€8,050 x 4 = €32,200), €6,440 each. There was also a special prize for the bubble boy: a $5,300 seat in the upcoming Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open and a guitar. To settle that one, the five bubble players competed in a Sit-and-Go, with all the spoils going to the winner (Scapula).

There was a bit of controversy surrounding the bubble payouts, as typically, the player with the largest stack in a multiple elimination scenario gets the higher finishing position. Neil Johnson, Head of Live Poker Operations for PokerStars Europe explained in a video interview with PokerNews that it was a unique situation. He said that it is not all that unusual to have two players eliminated at the same table on the same hand on the bubble and it is quite common to have players at different tables eliminated on the same hand. What is extremely rare, though, is what happened yesterday – two players eliminated at the same table PLUS other players eliminated at other tables, all on the bubble hand. Johnson said that in the two players at the same table situation, you normally award the prize money to the one with more chips to start the hand and in the case of players spread across more than one table, you just split the prize money. But what to do when both things happen?

Johnson explained that tournament officials felt that determining order of finish for Scapula and Studer based on chip counts wouldn’t be fair in this situation. He used extreme examples to illustrate: if the two players at one table had gigantic stacks compared to the players at the other tables, it wouldn’t make sense to say the one with the smaller chip stack to start the hand was out on the bubble while the much smaller stacks at the other tables, who were also eliminated, make the money. Conversely, if the two players at the table together had tiny stacks, it wouldn’t be fair for the one who had the larger of the two stacks to benefit when players at other tables had much larger stacks, but were still knocked out.

That’s why they came up with the solution they did. Give all the bubble players a piece of the winnings, as they did and then have them battle it out for the added bubble prize. Johnson said that he has since e-mailed the other EPT tournament directors to see if it would be wise to officially add a rule that would handle these situations in the future.

158 players made it out of Day 3 and are already back at the tables for Day 4, where the hope is to get down to 24 players by night’s end.

2014 European Poker Tour Barcelona Main Event – Day 3 Chip Leaders

1.    Andrei Konopelko – 1,451,000
2.    Piotr Sowinski – 1,315,000
3.    Davidi Kitai – 1,200,000
4.    Diogo Miranda – 1,161,000
5.    Pawel Brzeski – 1,080,000
6.    Martin Finger – 1,038,000
7.    Daniel Dvoress – 1,010,000
8.    Nicholas Rampon – 1,000,000
9.    Pedro Marques – 973,000
10.    Jan Heitmann – 953,000

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