It had all the inklings of being a great runup to the final table, and the penultimate day of the 2024 European Poker Tour Main Event did not fail to deliver. Six men remain in contention, including the legendary Barny Boatman, the chip leader at the start of the Day Five action. But he has his work cut out for him if he is looking to capture the title as David Kaufmann of Germany has stormed to the top of the standings and will hold a monster 24.8 million stack heading to Sunday’s action.

Strange Hand to Start Day Five

Eighteen men returned from the 1747 entry field on Saturday to Le Palais des Congres to work down to the final table. Boatman started the day with the chip lead over Farid Jattin. As soon as the cards hit the air, however, a strange hand started the day’s action and left many players puzzled.

Francesco Delfoco started the day as one of the shorter stacks in the room but, with 1.175 million in chips and blinds of 30K/60K (60K Big Blind Ante), you might have thought Delfoco would wait a bit before entering desperation mode. From the cutoff on the first hand, Delfoco decided this was the time to push out his stack. In the big blind, Hans Erlandsson looked down at his hole cards, saw pocket Aces, and immediately made the call. With Delfoco at risk, the cards were turned up:

Erlandsson: pocket Aces
Delfoco: ….7 3

The best thing you could say about Delfoco’s hand was that it was at least live, but there were puzzled expressions all around. Was Delfoco looking to steal the blinds and ante? Did he misread his hand? Regardless of the reason, the nine-high board ran out and brought absolutely nothing for Delfoco except the rail, with the Italian claiming eighteenth place.

From there, things did calm down a bit, but the eliminations came quickly. Leo Worthington-Leese hit the rail in seventeenth place, dismissed by Sindre Hansen, as Dimitar Danchev departed moments later in sixteenth. Redrawing at two tables, Boatman continued to ride high, but circumstances were about to change the top of the leaderboard.

Kaufmann Begins His Charge

In the Top Ten at the start of the day, Kaufmann bided his time before he mounted his charge. Kaufmann was able to get action on all three streets from David Tous on a 7-6-9-3-5, showing down pocket fours for the rivered straight as Tous shipped nearly a million chips to the German. His big action came against Aleksejs Ponakovs in a classic race situation which put Kaufmann into the lead.

Both men refused to back down pre-flop, with Kaufmann eventually getting his chips to the center holding pocket Jacks. Ponakovs held Big Slick to start the race, but he never connected with the ten-high board. In winning the hand, Kaufmann scooped nearly eight million chips to take over the lead while Ponakovs was left with scraps.

Kaufmann would then take out Mathias Siljander in fifteenth to crack the ten million chips mark and entered the nine-handed unofficial final table with 12.24 million in chips. Ami Barer (8.495 million) and Boatman (7.695 million) were visible in the rearview mirror, but they were quite a distance back. A big hand against Barer would be the one where Kaufmann would make his Day Five chip lead, and it was a bit of a shocker.

After Kaufmann raised the pot to 300K with pocket tens, Jorgne (pocket sevens) and Barer (pocket Jacks) both called to see a flop of J 10 2x. Sitting on top set, Barer would check his option to Kaufmann, who fired a continuation bet. Jorgne called that action but, after Barer raised the betting to 1.4 million and Kaufmann called, Jorgne decided to let his hand go. A six came on the turn, bringing a hefty bet from Barer of about half his remaining stack, and Kaufmann called.

The river card was a 3, completing a potential diamond flush, and Barer accordingly checked his option. Kaufmann chose to attack with his second-best set, pushing it all in and putting Barer to a decision. After agonizing over his choice, Barer sent the best hand to the muck and Kaufmann rocketed over seventeen million in chips.

The news just kept getting better for Kaufmann as the evening wore on. He would take out Lorenzo Arduini in eighth place to approach the twenty million mark in chips, then shattered that ceiling when he found pocket Aces against Barer’s pocket eights to send the Canadian to the rail in seventh place. When action resumes on Sunday, Kaufmann will be sitting on a monstrous stack and facing monstrous expectations.

1. David Kaufmann (Germany), 24.8 million
2. Aleksejs Ponakovs (Latvia), 10.05 million
3. Barny Boatman (United Kingdom), 9.675 million
4. Owen Dodd (United Kingdom), 2.95 million
5. Eric Afriat (Canada), 2.525 million
6. Peter Jorgne (Sweden), 2.4 million

Several storylines would make the 2024 EPT Paris Main Event a memorable one. A win by Kaufmann would solidify a new poker star has arrived, while a win by Boatman would be one for the “old guard.” Afriat would add the second leg of poker’s “Triple Crown” (a win on the EPT, the World Poker Tour, and the World Series of Poker) to his trio of WPT titles. Jorgne has some unfinished business in Paris, as he was the runner-up in the tournament last year – although expecting him to come off the bottom rung of the ladder might be a bit of an ask.

The remaining six men will convene at Le Palais des Congres on Sunday at 12:30 PM (6:30 AM East Coast) to decide who is going to walk away the big winner. The PokerStars livestream will start approximately a half hour later through their Twitch channel, covering all the action in a plausibly live manner. The minimum prize for sixth place is €261,650, but every man at the table wants the “big score” – €1,287,800 – and the honor of being crowned an EPT champion.

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