David Steicke Leads Erik Seidel At Epic Poker League Final Table

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The final table for the second-ever Epic Poker League Main Event is set, with a newcomer to the EPL tournaments leading the way and a familiar face trying to chase him down.

Action began on Thursday with 23 men left standing from the original 97 runners who came to the line. There was plenty of work left for these gentlemen, as only the top twelve players would take home at least a minimum cash, $46,202, for their efforts. French poker legend Fabrice Soulier led the remaining players at the start of play, but that would change almost from the start of the action on Thursday.

Literally minutes after the day’s play began, Erik Seidel began to make his move to the top of the leaderboard. Battling against Day One chip leader Jaime Kaplan, the duo saw a K-9-9-8-8 board, with Kaplan firing on every street and Seidel calmly making the call. After Erik moved in on the river and was called by Jaime, he turned up pocket Kings for the flopped boat, vastly outpacing the 10-9 of clubs that Jaime held. The hand propelled Seidel up to 594,000 in chips and set the tone for his day.

Another player making a strong move in the early going was Amit “amak316” Makhija. He doubled up his short stack through Kaplan when his A-K flopped trips against Jaime’s pocket fours and then doubled again through Tim West when his A-K found an Ace on the turn against Tim’s pocket Kings. The back to back doubles pushed Amit’s chip stack close to the 200K mark and gave him a fighting chance in the tournament.

For almost half of the field, however, there would only be disappointment for working for three days with nothing to show for it. David “Bakes” Baker was the first departure from the Palms Casino Resort tournament room and he was soon followed by Kaplan. After Dan O’Brien was eliminated in 21st place, the potential run at a repeat championship was ended when David “Chino” Rheem dropped in 20th place.

After two hours of play on Thursday, Marco Johnson went out in 19th place before one of the bigger surprises of the day occurred. Canada’s Matt Marafioti, who had come into Day Three action in fifth place with 302,000 in chips, clashed against fellow countryman Mike “SirWatts” Watson. After a five bet all in pre flop by Watson, Marafioti called for less and tabled his pocket Kings. Marafioti probably knew what was coming as Watson tabled pocket Aces to hold a dominating edge in the hand, which was virtually locked up when an Ace came on the flop. After a blank on the turn, Marafioti was drawing dead and out of the tournament in eighteenth place.

The tournament got to two tables in the Eight Handed NLHE tournament in another stunning hand. After Chris Moore opened the action to 12K, Christian “charder30” Harder moved his remaining chips to the center of the table. Stunningly, David Steicke went all in over the top of Harder, forcing Moore to a decision for his remaining chips. He made the call and tabled a paltry A-K against the pocket Queens of Steicke and the pocket threes of Harder. The flop hit them all, K-Q-3, but Steicke crushed them with his set of Queens. Once there were no surprises on the turn or river, Chris Moore and Christian Harder were out and Steicke catapulted to the lead.

The money bubble burst before the tournament paused for dinner. After a raise from Day Two chip leader Fabrice Soulier, Isaac Baron reraised and Allen Bari moved his remaining chips to the center with a three-bet. Soulier ducked for cover and Baron snap-called, turning his pocket Aces up against Bari’s pocket Jacks. The board would not bring a saving Jack for Allen Bari, eliminating him in thirteenth place and sending the dozen men remaining to dinner at least $46,202 richer.

It took slightly more than two hours after the dinner break for the final table to be determined. Once Nam Le eliminated Adam “Roothlus” Levy in ninth place with an unnecessary full house against Levy’s pair of Queens with a King kicker, play ended for the evening. It was a particularly painful loss for Levy, who also was the final table “bubble boy” in the inaugural EPL tournament.

When the final table kicks off at 3PM (Pacific Time) today, the leaderboard looks like this:

David Steicke – 1,059,000
Erik Seidel – 1,031,000
Isaac Baron – 876,000
Fabrice Soulier – 537,000
Dutch Boyd – 393,000
Nam Le – 362,000
Mike McDonald – 357,000
Sean Getzwiller – 235,000

Seidel is in excellent position to make a move up the Global Poker Index tournament rankings. With a strong finish in this tournament, Seidel – who is just over twenty points behind leader Jason Mercier in the GPI rankings – should move ahead of Mercier. This would mark the first change atop the GPI since its inception.

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