Our colleagues working for the EPT website recently came by to ask what were the biggest news stories from day 1a at EPT San Remo. It was a fair question — there were no huge world superstars at the top of the chip ladder, no Team PokerStars Pro thrashing their way through the field. But at the same time it was also something of a no brainer: today we began the largest-ever European Poker Tour event of its five-year history, and if that’s not newsworthy, I don’t know what is.
Looking at the figures is even more impressive. Yesterday Luca Pagano, who has been heavily involved with the organisation of his home EPT, suggested that we would probably get close to 1,200 players, way more than the “official” cap of 800. We knew poker was booming in Italy, but to get 1,200 players was a full third more than the supposed maximum permitted, 500 more players than the same event last year, and 350 more than even the Grand Final of last April. We would believe it when we saw it.
But as 2pm approached today, the proof was very much there for our own eyes to see. Even if we hadn’t had to battle our way through swarms upon swarms of hopefuls loitering nervously in the lobby, the full scale of his achievement was visible in the look of weary pride on Pagano’s face. He had clearly worked his fingers to the bone to put the tournament together, but the proof of the pudding was in the list of 578 players’ names that made its way to us. There are inevitably more players on day 1b, so we really are looking at very close to 1,200. Amazing.
When the poker began, there was instantly a familiar feel to proceedings. A player was knocked out on the first hand, over-rating his top pair against an opponent’s nut straight. And that set the torrents flowing: the esteemed likes of Greg Raymer, William Thorson, Magnus Petersson, Chad Brown, Annette Obrestad and Sandra Naujoks were all swept away. In total, 356 players went from a starting stack of 10,000 to a finishing stack of zero within eight levels. Arivaderce and then some.
Even so, that still left 222 others to bag and tag their chips tonight, including the Team PokerStars Pros Marcin Horecki (36,500) and Alex Kravchenko (24,000), and the Friend of PokerStars Tom McEvoy (24,000).
At the absolute summit is the Croatian player Dragan Galic, who won a huge pot on the final hand of the day, when his 5-7 had an opponent’s A-K crushed on a board of 5-6-7, boosting his stack to 108,000. Somewhere also near the very top are Greger Larsson, from Sweden, who has something like 70,000, the Canadian (with a suspiciously Italian-sounding name) Gianni Giaroni, with 60,000.
Also there or thereabouts is the American PokerStars qualifier Tyler Cornell and the Dutchman Constant Rykenberg.
With a field of this size, accurate counts at this stage are difficult to come by, and we’ll have to wait until the morning before they are passed onto us from the tournament officials. They’ll be here for all to see as soon as we get them. Other names to look out for on that list are Joao Barbosa, Arnaud Mattern, Joe Elpayaa and the defending champion Jason Mercier, all of whom made it through today.
Remember, PokerStars blog is available in a number of languages. And those include Italian, Swedish and German. It might look different over there, but it’s the same high-quality stuff (so I’m told; I can’t understand a word of it.)
Stay within the safe confines of English with any of these links to our full day’s coverage.
San Remo: A corner of paradise
Cards in the air
What’s the rush?
Greger Larsson: An early assassin
Antony Lellouche out
There will be casualties
The day after the night before
A few thousand words
The demise of Reuben Peters
Annette Obrestad’s action table
Stefan Mattson’s right stuff
Contant Rykenberg’s Dutch courage
A Gork in the park
Then look at this photograph and get a hint of where our immediate priorities lie.