Like little twinkling lights strung around a Christmas tree in Prague’s Old Town Square, the stars of European poker came out to play at the Hilton this afternoon. And if you can bear to read on after perhaps the most ghastly, twee, laboured and crow-barred lead into a PokerStars blog daily wrap-up post, you’ll learn who is shining the brightest and who is at the top of the tree after day 1B.
That man’s name is Marius Heiene, he’s from Norway, and at about 9pm this evening, he was stuffing 162,700 chips into his Christmas stocking ready to haul them back tomorrow for the second day of this record-breaking event.
Record breaking? Yes, record-breaking. When all the necessary counting was done by the tournament staff this afternoon, we determined that 586 players had found €5,000 to join the party in Prague. Although two of them never arrived to play (and one turned up five hours late, of which more later), the biggest field in Czech poker history still remained to chase the biggest prize ever handed out in this region.
The champion of EPT Prague will take home a big comedy cardboard cheque worth €682,000 on Sunday, Simba’s share of the €2,842,100 prize pool. That’s well worth the humiliation in the bank. (Full prizes over here.)
Also in the hunt are this little lot, ensuring that whoever grabs that cheque will have earned it.
Jude Ainsworth – 160,200
Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier – 159,800
Andrew Eiler – 158,300
Rifat Palevic – 144,800
Luca Pagano – 131,500
Stefan Mattsson – 127,500
Tomas MacNamara – 127,200
Antony Lellouche – 118,000
Rasmus Nielsen – 118,000
The full counts are on the chip count page, and they will become official once tournament staff confirms what our intrusive reporting has already attempted to glean.
Ainsworth and ElkY need very little introduction. Both Team PokerStars Pros, one of the newest enrollments (Ainsworth) and one of the stalwarts (ElkY). This is the second time out of two that the Irishman is up there. This is the umpteenth out of umpteen for ElkY, but it never gets any less impressive.
And how about Pagano? Yet again the Italian is chipped up going past the early stages and leads these others in the famous PokerStars livery still in the chase: Rino Mathis (51,900), Alex Kravchenko (23,400), Noah Boeken (61,700) and Thierry van den Berg (26,700).
The flip-side to all this glittering is a bust-out list almost as shimmering. We lost Dario Minieri, Ilari Sahamies, Michael Tureniec, Boris Becker, William Thorson, Johnny Lodden, Carter Phillips and Salvatore Bonavena among the many who perished to leave us with 220 survivors from the day.
A quick word about Sahamies, who put in a fleeting cameo at EPT Prague that still hogged most of the attention. After a night enjoying the historical sights and architectural highlights of the Czech capital, the man known as Ziigmund found his way to the tournament room to register on time, but then went for about five hours’ sleep.
Sahamies returned to a diminished, if not demolished stack, and got it all in on his first hand – ElkY and Carter Phillips had already shown their interest, and they were four, five, six betting between them. Sahamies had ace-four and flopped a four to beat Phillips’ ace-jack. Then it was kings for Sahamies against queens for Phillips, to send the Barcelona champ to the rail.
Sahamies didn’t last all that much longer, and was free to return to his room within about 120 minutes. Check out our coverage of all that nonsense in the links below.
So, can Heiene stick around the summit, with the likes of our Bertrand breathing down his neck? That’s the kind of stuff we’ll find out tomorrow. Join us at noon for all those frolics.
Look back on today with these links:
Video blog coverage can be found on PokerStars.tv. And don’t forget PokerStars Blogs in a variety of other languages. There’s all this with added precision – that’ll be German. There’s needless gesticulation and exceptional passion over at the Italian place. And it’s blonde, massaged and prone to suicide in the Swedish camp.
All pictures are (c) Neil Stoddart. Good night.