EPT Copenhagen Day Three: Pierre Neuville Surges To Lead With 24 Players Remaining

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The European Poker Tour’s stop in Copenhagen, Denmark is entering into the homestretch, with a well-respected Belgian at the top of the leaderboard.

72 players came back on Thursday to whittle the field down to the final 24 contenders. Heading the field at the start of the day was Team LockPro Elite member Melanie Weisner, but she faced significant challengers to her perch. The defending champion of this event, Michael Tureniec, was in pursuit as well as Juha Helppi, Kevin Iacofano and Per Linde. With only 48 players taking down cash in this tournament, there were 24 players who would be walking out of the Casino Copenhagen with nothing to show for their efforts.

Weisner got off to a good start for the day, eliminating Andrey Gulyy within moments of the start of action to push her stack to 383K. Another player making moves at the same time was 2011 World Series of Poker Championship Event runner-up Martin Staszko, who started the day with a miniscule stack. After winning a pot against Maksim Semisoshenko, Staszko would begin a charge towards the top of the pack.

It took over four hours for the pack to work its way down to the bubble. After Iacofano was defeated by Magnus Hansen in a hand which Hansen took with quad fives, the players took almost 45 minutes to find the unfortunate “bubble boy.” That player would be Mikita Badziakouski, who fell at the hands of Anthony Hnatow when Hnatow’s pocket Kings held up against Badziakouski’s suited A-7.

By this time, Weisner had built her stack to 595K in chips, but her run at the title would end soon after the players reached the money. She doubled up Steve O’Dwyer to drop under the 500K mark and handed a few more chips to Hansen. O’Dwyer would double again through Weisner, his pocket Aces holding over her A-Q, to drop Weisner into the danger zone. The end would come for Weisner when she picked up A-Q again and put her chips to the center against Stig Christensen, only to see him turn up A-K. Once the board brought no surprises, Weisner had fallen from the chip lead to out in 28th place.

The player who would eventually end up leading Day Three, Belgium’s Pierre Neuville, began his run at the championship once the money was reached. In what would prove to be a game changing moment, Neuville would raise a hand under the gun and Tureniec simply called on the button. After a 3-Q-2 flop, he checked to Tureniec, who pushed out a 21K bet. Neuville check-raised to 100,000 and was called by Tureniec.

The King on the turn opened up the floodgates. Neuville pushed out a 100K bet once again but this time Tureniec pushed his remaining stack to the center. Neuville made the call and turned up K-Q for a turned two pair. Tureniec, for his part, had been sitting on pocket Aces that were run down with the King on the turn. Once the board failed to pair on the river or provide another Ace, Neuville shot to the top of the pack and Tureniec fell to the basement.

When play started Friday afternoon (Copenhagen time), here’s how the Top Ten lined up:

1. Pierre Neuville, 780,000
2. Alexander Manson, 730,000
3. Aage Floenes Ravn, 691,000
4. Alejandro Sanchez Fernandez, 620,500
5. Keld Volquardsen, 523,500
Spencer Hudson, 523,500
7. Bjarke Hansen, 460,000
8. Mickey Petersen, 451,500
9. Martin Staszko, 432,500
10. Steve O’Dwyer, 423,500

While Staszko’s performance was truly noteworthy (he started the day with only 28K in chips), Neuville’s play was also strong. A retired businessman, the 69-year old Neuville, who played poker socially throughout his life, picked up the game seriously in 2006. Since then, the Team PokerStars Pro member has become quite notable for his abilities to use PokerStars satellite tournaments to win his seat into EPT events. He qualified for 23 consecutive EPT events through these satellites (a record) and has earned over $1 million in his tournament poker career.

Action has already begun today to determine the final eight handed table for the EPT Copenhagen, which will take place tomorrow. At stake for those remaining in the event is a first place prize of 2,515,000 Danish Krone, which converts to just under $454,500 U. S.

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