Just sixteen players remain – two tables of eight – in the European Poker Tour (EPT) Sochi Main Event after Tuesday’s Day 4. Leading the way is Mikhail Plakkhin with 3.046 million chips. His lead is fairly massive, as the second place player, Sihao Zhang, has 2.193 million and the big blind is only 24,000. They are the only two players with at least 2 million chips; nearly everyone else is above the 1 million chip mark.

Day 4 began with a moment of silence to mourn the 64 people – 41 of them children – who died in a fire Sunday at the Winter Cherry mall in the Siberian city of Kemerovo. Outrage and questions abound as to how something like this could happen. The investigation has so far found that the fire alarm was turned off, giving many mall goers zero warning until it was too late, and some fire exits were blocked. Many of the children perished in a locked movie theater. One entire fifth grade class died, some students posting devastating goodbye messages on social media.

The poker tournament will continue to be played, but minds are elsewhere this week.

As I mentioned in the previous EPT Sochi write-up, most of the chip leaders after Day 3 had sparse live tournament resumes, with total winnings in only the four- and five-figure range. This is most certainly the case for Plakkhin, who is having the tournament of his life. According to his profile on TheHendonMob.com, Plakkhin has just one recorded live tournament cash for $2,008 in December. Sixteenth place pays about $20,852 (after conversion from rubles), so needless to say, he is in uncharted personal territory.

One of Plakkhin’s most significant hands that helped him get to this point came near the end of the night with just 18 players remaining. From the PokerStars blog, Plakkhin raised to 45,000 pre-flop (blinds and antes were 10,000/20,000/3,000) and Aleksey Savenkov re-raised all-in. Everyone else folded and Plakkhin quickly called, showing A-Q to Savenkov’s J-T suited. Not a single community card helped either player, but that meant, by default, that they helped the already-ahead Plakkhin, whose chip stack rose to 2.7 million as Savenkov was eliminated in seventeenth place.

As already mentioned, the first player out on Wednesday will cash for close to $21,000 (1.206 million rubles). The plan is to get down to the six-handed final table, where players will battle for the first prize of 27.300 million rubles, or about $472,290. Action is already underway at the Sochi Casino and Resort, but there is still a ways to go before the final table is determined.

European Poker Tour Sochi Main Event – Day 4 Chip Counts

1. Mikhail Plakkhin – 3,046,000
2. Sihao Zhang – 2,193,000
3. Andrey Kaigorotsev – 1,880,000
4. Petr Son – 1,680,000
5. Sergey Pichugin – 1,615,000
6. Vasily Yarkov – 1,600,000
7. Ivan Volodko – 1,528,000
8. Arseniy Karmatskiy – 1,479,000
9. Mikhail Zavoloka – 1,419,000
10. Dmitriy Zhukov – 1,392,000
11. Sergey Kerzhakov – 1,344,000
12. Viktor Shegai – 1,296,000
13. Vahe Martirosyan – 1,034,000
14. Mikhail Kovalyuk – 832,000
15. Gurgen Pipoyan – 755,000
16. Ernest Shakoryan – 554,000

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