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Home / Poker / A new one for the EPT: the pain-free bubble

The pressure that builds in a tournament room around bubble time in a major poker tournament can often become excruciating. Everyone knows precisely how many competitors need to be eliminated before they are in the money, but sometimes the number of players simply refuses to tick downward.

Every all-in results in a double up; every short stack tanks and tanks and tanks and then folds, prolonging the agony for everyone.

At the same time, a small army of reporters, photographers and TV crews shuffles ever more anxiously between the tightly-packed tables, desperate to be in the best spot to see the pain finally ended.

Three eliminations? Coming right up

The net result of all this is like a pot left on a stove with the heat gradually being increased. It’s bubbling and sputtering and eventually it’s going to explode.

That’s what normally happens anyway. Here in EPT Prague tonight, it was the exact opposite.

A runny yolk

This was arguably the gentlest bubble ever witnessed on the European Poker Tour: a damp flicker, quickly extinguished, to most other event’s raging inferno. If you’d tried to boil an egg in this tournament’s bubbling pot, your yolk would be very runny indeed.

The basic facts this time are that three players were knocked out in fairly undramatic circumstances, all at the same time, and from three different tables. The tournament officials had only recently asked dealers to pause the action if they had a called all-in, with 186 players still in the field.

With 183 players due to be paid, we were preparing to start the quiet agony of hand-for-hand play. But that wasn’t necessary at all. The most agonising bit was waiting for the tournament staff to do a quick head-count, kind of like a VAR review, to double-check that what had happened had indeed happened.

It had.

The details

The tournament clock ticked down to the end of Level 14, at which point there was a 15-minute break and a colour up of the 500-denomination chips. There were 186 players left, still three from the money, so everyone could at least kid themselves that there was time for a double up and potential survival.

Jaesung Lee was responsible for one of the bubble eliminations

Well, maybe not Auez Yelyubayev, who had only 1,000 in his stack, returning to blinds of 2,000-4,000. When action resumed, Yelyubayev ended up as the spare part in a raising battle between Robert Cowen and Jaesung Lee.

Cowen had aces and Lee pocket tens, but there was a ten on the flop. Lee’s set took the pot and eliminated Yelyubayev.

On a neighbouring table, Poker News reported, Saar Wilf and Lander Lijo played out a classic race, with Wilf, with the shorter stack, taking the fall.

Wilf had AK to Lijo’s QQ and even though Wilf flopped top pair and turned two pair, a third queen on the river gave Lijo a set. Wilf had to go home.

Saar Wilf hit the rail narrowly short of the money

Weis departs and no one sees

These two pots occurred in near silence, but nobody was even watching the other, decisive, one. In a pot that appears to have escaped everyone’s gaze, Felix Weis was knocked out too, and with that the Remaining Players total on the info board flicked down to 183.

One or two players noticed this, and slowly, via a succession of shoulder taps and points, the information spread across the field. There was a gentle wave of appreciation and nervous excitement, but without an announcement, everyone was wise enough to stay grounded.

The tournament officials did their counting, before returning to their huddle and confirming that, yes, everything had indeed progressed as reported.

“We lost three players in one hand,” the tournament director announced. “You are all in the money. Congratulations.”

And with that, any danger had passed.

“Have we breezed through the bubble?” Nick Walsh asked on the PokerStars Live TV stream. We had. Everyone was guaranteed €8,650 — and the real fun could begin.

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