It is getting down to crunch time at Le Palais des Congres in Paris as the first Main Event for the 2024 European Poker Tour winds down. Only eighteen players remain from the original 1747 entries as they drive towards the million-euro payday that awaits one of the players come Sunday. Atop the standings is a familiar name to ‘old school’ poker fans, as it is one of the men who made the game notable in the United Kingdom through his (and his chums) promotion.

Plenty of Notable Names Making a Run

Of the 57 men who were still alive for the 2024 EPT Paris title, there were several notable names on the leaderboard. Leading the way was Panagiotis Mavritsakis with his 2.93 million in chips, but he wasn’t exactly running away from Eric Afriat (2.3 million) or Tom Middleton (2.19 million). Lurking down the leaderboard were players who had scored high at the 2023 EPT Prague (Grigoril Rodin, sixth-place finish) and Peter Jorgne (runner-up, 2023 EPT Paris). Toss in other top pros like former EPT champions Dimitar Danchev, and Anton Wigg, and power players Byron Kaverman and Barny Boatman and it was going to be an exciting day of poker.

It would also prove to be a quick day on the tables. Over eleven hours of play, the field went from 57 runners down to the final eighteen. Rodin was one of the early casualties, his K-J falling to Francesco Delfoco’s pocket Kings, while Kaverman fell when his pocket Queens were caught by Mathias Siljander’s Big Slick on an 8-10-J-A-5 board.

And this was just in the first level of the day…

Afriat, who had to sit out the first round of play for the day after his dustup with Eric Sfez on Thursday, was a man possessed once he got back to the felt. He slow played pocket Aces enough to draw out almost 300K chips from Florian Duta, moving to over 2.6 million chips in the process. Boatman also was moving up the ladder, albeit in a little more dramatic manner when he rivered an unshown Broadway straight against Alexander Tkatschew after Tkatschew decided against calling a big river bet.

Boatman Turns Back the Clock

The star of the day was Boatman, notable for his mid-Aughts time with the legendary Hendon Mob that ran roughshod over the UK poker scene. Boatman never seemed to make a mistake through the day, constantly seeing his stack on the upward march. A well-timed pre-flop three-bet from Boatman, and the subsequent ‘old school’ continuation bet, against Gonzalo Almeida got the Argentinian to fold his hand and Boatman to eclipse the two million chip mark.

With three tables remaining, Boatman was in a stalking position in the middle of the pack. He got Ami Barer to drop his hand in the muck to pick up another 650K in chips before a massive clash with Delfoco changed the course of both of their tournaments.

Boatman would start the fireworks with A♣ K♣, only to be called down by Delfoco with a J 10 and Hans Erlandsson with an A♠ 10♠. The 6x 3♣ 2x flop looked innocent, but Delfoco fired away and only Boatman made the call. A second club, the 8♣, did not change anything, and the 9♣ only made the situation better for Boatman with the nut flush. Still, Delfoco fired away on every street, only to fold on the river after the Mobster pushed all-in and Delfoco correctly could not find the call button.

That pot pushed Boatman over the four million mark in chips, and he would make the most of it. Boatman doubled through Afriat in the final minutes of the night’s action, taking the overall lead and setting up for an excellent penultimate day of the 2024 EPT Paris:

1. Barny Boatman (United Kingdom), 7.62 million
2. Farid Jattin (Colombia), 5.66 million
3. Sindre Hansen (Norway), 5.115 million
4. Owen Dodd (United Kingdom), 4.31 million
5. Ami Barer (Canada), 3.61 million
6. David Kaufmann (Germany), 3.21 million
7. David Tous (Spain), 2.935 million
8. Hans Erlandsson (Sweden), 2.84 million
9. Peter Jorgne (Sweden), 2.32 million
10. Gonzalo Almeida (Argentina), 2.31 million

This is shaping up to be a huge final table clash. Afriat may not be in the Top Ten (1.225 million) of the eighteen men left, but he is a dangerous player who will be looking to move during Saturday’s action. Danchev is also in the mix, just outside the Top Ten with his 2.1 million stack. The tournament resumes at noon (Paris time, 6 AM Eastern Time) and will work down to the final table of the 2024 EPT Paris on Saturday. All action will be live streamed on the PokerStars Twitch channel on a slight delay to maintain tournament integrity.

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