The Season XVI WPT European Championship Berlin €3,300 Main Event attracted a field of 339 entries. After 16 levels of play through the event’s first two days of play, the field has been whittled down to just 49 hopefuls in contention for the €218,435 ($255,352) top prize.
Following turnouts of 111 on Day 1a and 184 on Day 1b, another 44 players entered the competition at Spielbank Berlin before registration closed on Day 2 at the start of the second level of play. The top 43 spots are set to reach the money, with a min-cash worth €6,125.
The winner will also receive entry into the $15,000 buy-in WPT Tournament of Champions at the ARIA in Las Vegas in May, an event restricted to WPT Champions Club members, and a luxurious Hublot Big Bang Steel watch.
Four players remaining already know what it feels like to lift the WPT Champions Cup. Marvin Rettenmaier (277,000), Davidi Kitai (178,000), Julian Thomas (155,000), and Tony Dunst (98,000) remain in contention and have each won WPT titles in the past. For Rettenmaier, a win here in Berlin would be his third WPT title, tying him for the most all time with World Poker Tour greats Carlos Mortensen, Gus Hansen, Chino Rheem, Darren Elias, and Anthony Zinno.
For Dunst, a trip to the final would not only inch him closer to his second WPT title, but it would throw a wrench in the plans for his commentary duties. That wouldn’t necessarily be a bad problem, but it’s in play. Dunst scored a vital double up early on Day 2 in a three-way all-in pot with pocket aces against the pocket queens of Romain Lewis and the queen-eight of Ronny Granli.
After the day concluded, Dunst was available for a quick chat and had the following to say.
“I feel good,” Dunst said. “We’re only a few players away from the money – pretty tired and the jet lag is starting to kick in.”
As the tournament is within one full table off the money, the Action Clock, provided by Protection Poker, is in play. The Action Clock gives each player 30 seconds to act on each decision and players have a predetermined amount of 30-second time extensions should they need them.
“I don’t really feel like the Action Clock affected my play late on,” Dunst said of the Action Clock. “I feel like I play pretty quick anyway. I’m a big fan of the Action Clock, I just like the atmosphere it creates.
“I will grab some dinner now, get some rest, and then come back tomorrow and try to run up a stack.”
Thomas lifted the WPT Champions Cup back in 2013 after taking down the Season XII WPT Prague €3,300 Main Event for a career-best payday of €206,230 and has since cashed for more than $1.1 million in live events. The German came back for Day 2 with only 20 big blinds and busted in the first level. He fired a reentry and ran his stack up to 155,000 to close out the day.
“Actually, it was just a massive run where I hit trips and trips against trips with a lower kicker, and I had a pretty nice stack, but close to the bubble I lost a big pot, unfortunately,” Thomas told WPT.com of his day.
In addition to the four WPT Champions Club members remaining, two of the seven DraftKings qualifiers that returned to the tables also made it through to Day 2. The two to advance were Carter Gent and Tom Grace. Gent was among the big stacks after sending Artan Dedusha to the rail with kings versus ace-jack, but the last levels of the night were not as kind and he bagged 60,000. Grace spent the final two levels next to Dunst and made it through with a healthy stack of 330,500.
“I couldn’t ask for more right now,” said Grace at the end of the day. “I’m very excited to be where I’m at now. It’s been an adventure and I hope it continues for a few more days.”
Not only did Grace qualify for the event in a unique manner, winning his way in from a daily fantasy sports contest on DraftKings, he prepared for the event in a unique way.
“I’ve played poker with my friends, but if you had to ask me where I got all my poker knowledge from then I’d tell you it’s from my wife,” Grace said. “She really loves playing poker, so we’ve been practicing for the last few weeks and now I’m here going into Day 3. My plan tomorrow is go big or go home! Hopefully, I can make it to the money. I’ve already had a blast here.”
With his stack, Grace finished Day 2 in the top 10 on the leaderboard.
In the end, it was a very close race for the Day 2 chip lead, with several players battling for the top spot. Kunal Patni (pictured above), who finished runner-up in the WPTDeepStacks €1,500 Main Event to kick off the WPT European Championship festival at Spielbank Berlin, ended up on top with 515,000 in chips. Patni’s stack narrowly edged out Patrice Brandt (514,000) and Han Kuo (510,000).
The rise to the top for Patni kicked off when the Adda52 team pro flopped a set of queens and Ali Reza Fatehi got his stack in with an inferior set of nines.
Patni and Kuo ended the night on the same table as German superstar Ole Schemion, who performed dominantly in his own right throughout the day’s eight levels of play. Schemion knocked out several opponents and finished on 443,000.
Other big stacks and notables in contention for Day 3 include Michal Mrakes (434,000), Day 1b chip leader Zikai Li (357,500), Amjad Nader (348,000), Paul Michaelis (339,000), Marco Slacanac (225,500), Romain Lewis (185,500), Day 1a chip leader Gerald Karlic (175,000), Thomas Muhlocker (131,500), Nikolaus Teichert (72,000), and WPTDeepStacks Europe Player of the Year Tobias Peters (67,000).
Among the big names that left empty-handed after busting short of the money were Dominik Nitsche and Tyler Patterson, both WPT Champions Club members, Jan-Peter Jachtmann, Stan Jablonski, Manig Loeser, Omar Lahkdari, Finn Zwad, Ana Marquez, James Mitchell, Mathew Frankland, Jean Montury, and Cary Marshall.
Action at Spielbank Berlin will recommence on Saturday, January 13, 2018, at 12 p.m. local time. It will be Level 17 and blinds of 2,500-5,000 with a running ante of 500 to start, and the field will be just six spots from the money.
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