The history making largest ever trip by the European Poker Tour to the sunny shores of Spain and the Casino Barcelona is going to be a very profitable one for some people. The third day of the EPT Barcelona Main Event is in the books and 48 players will come back on Friday from the 1988 entry field. Ruling the roost will be Pasquale Braco with his 2.8 million chip stack, but the U. S.’s Shannon Shorr (2.515 million) is hot on his heels with an impressive stack of his own.

Playing with a Purpose

From the start of the Day 3 action on Thursday, it seemed as if the players had somewhere else they wanted to be – or maybe they just wanted to be able to see the sights of Barcelona. Whichever it was, the 191 players who started off the action inside the Casino Barcelona were ready to get their chips in motion. Leading the way at the start of the day was Simon Mattsson, who held a 1.191 million stack, but everyone was looking to take him down and improve on the €10,030 that was the minimum payday for everyone starting the day.

It was a particularly brutal day for some of the notable players on the felt. Robert Mizrachi was an early departee, as was Luc Greenwood. Kelvin Kerber would river a Jack with his A-J to dispatch Pete Chen from the tournament. And the ladies didn’t fare much better as Ema Zajmovic and Team PokerStars Pro Fatima Moreira de Melo both left the arena, Moreira de Melo’s demise particularly cruel when her Big Slick ran smack into the pocket Aces of Alen Alencar.

Mattsson, meanwhile, was having his own issues. Although he started off by bumping his stack over the 1.2 million mark, that would be the high-water mark for him on the day. On many hands, it seemed like he was trying to make some moves but he just ran into people with better cards, such as when Jerry Odeen three-bet him and Rodrigo Campo came over the top for a four-bet. Mattsson would fold that hand, wisely as it proved; Campo’s pocket Aces dominated Odeen’s K-Q off suit and Mattsson went under the million-chip mark.

Oddly enough, it was Odeen who would cripple Mattsson. With similar stacks, Odeen and Mattsson went to the races as Odeen’s pocket Jacks look to hold up against Mattsson’s Big Slick. There was paint on the flop, but it was a Queen and, once the board ran out, it was time to count chips. When the counting was done, Mattsson was left with 82K in chips as Odeen rocketed up the leaderboard with his new 1.55 million stack.

Where many players would have simply crumpled like a piece of paper, Mattsson instead showed some fortitude. He would make it to the end of the night with 390,000 in chips and has the proverbial “chip and a chair” chance to regain his former glory on Friday.

Braco Follows Deep Run in National Event with Superb Main Event Run

Braco, who also made a deep run last week in the EPT National event prior to the start of the Main, was the beneficiary of a battle against Aymon Hata. Defending his big blind, Braco and Hata saw a Q♣ J♣ 8♥ flop and Braco would check-call a bet out of Hata. A 6♣ on the turn lit the fireworks as Braco led out and Hata raised him. Braco didn’t back down, moving his stack of 1.2 million to the center, and Hata stood up to him with slightly less than a million chips with a call. The respective hands were what you might expect:

Hata: K♣ 9♣
Braco: A♣ 2♣

Braco had the nut flush, but he wasn’t out of the woods yet as Hata had exactly one out – the 10♣ – that would give him a straight flush. Alas, the Q♠ came on the river, ending Hata’s tournament and thrusting Braco into a lead that he would hold through the remainder of the day’s play.

1. Pasquale Braco, 2.8 million
2. Shannon Shorr, 2.515 million
3. Diego Falcone, 2.31 million
4. Simon Brandstrom, 2.3 million
5. Ut Tam Vo, 2.275 million
6. Jonas ten Cate, 2.24 million
7. Jerry Odeen, 2.135 million
8. Bartlomiej Machon, 2.03 million
9. Johnny Nedved, 1.975 million
10. Joe Mouawad, 1.955 million

For another EPT stop, Victoria Coren-Mitchell’s reign as the only two-time EPT champion remains intact. There are no former champions remaining in the tournament, although a couple of runner ups, Kimmo Kurko (1.655 million) and Marton Czuczor (1.195 million), will try to take the next rung of the ladder. Action on Friday begins at noon in the Casino Barcelona (6AM on the East Coast) with the plans to whittle the field to the final three tables in the biggest EPT Main Event in its history.

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