At the very start of the day - day two at EPT Prague - the tournament director Thomas Kremser announced that we would be playing down to four tables of eight, 32 players, no matter how long it took. Typically, there was a weary groan from the press corps, veterans of this tournament reporting who know that making 177 into 32 can take a lot longer than most people would care to stay in the same room.
But the groans turned out to be misplaced. The journalists were wrong. Although we ended up playing slightly longer than eight levels, the action was fast and fascinating, with twists and turns along the way to keep even the most cynical hack gripped. The short story is that there are some monstrous stacks in front of some hugely talented players, earned during a day of fierce competition. The chip lead will be contested by the French EPT stalwart Ludovic Lacay (513,000) and Fredrik Nygaard (609,500), a Finn who won the tournament's largest pot to date, when he took a massive chunk from the PokerStars player Juan Maceiras (266,500) right at the death.
The notable absentee from that clutch of talent is the Team PokerStars Pro Dario Minieri, who was the most prized scalp of Raul Mestre's day as barbarian. Minieri was swarmed all day by a baying rail, but they could do nothing when the Italian went heads-up with Mestre, and the Spaniard's A-Q flopped an ace to better Minieri's pocket queens.
Minieri cashed for what he would consider to be a meagre €8,300, but just glancing at the list of players who also took that amount - Johnny Lodden, Juha Helppi, Petter Petterson, Alessio Isaia, Roberto Romanello, as well as Minieri - indicates the strength of this field.
Tomorrow is day three, and the television table has now been assembled to follow all the day's best play. It will see the likes of Sebastian Ruthenberg (178,500), the EPT Barcelona champion who is still going strong in Prague.