Day 1a of the first event of the Poker Stars European Poker Tour kicked off yesterday in Barcelona, Spain, with 264 players from all around the world chasing the top prize. Among the top players trying to get to Day 2 were David Williams, Phil Gordon, Sorel 'Imper1um' Mizzi, Jon 'Pearljammer' Turner and last year's EPT Barcelona champion Bjorn-Erik Glenne.
Several of the internet's biggest names took to the live felt at the first EPT stop of the year, venturing across the pond not only to see the sights, but because they can't get into a casino in the US, with their age-21 minimums. Jimmy 'Gobboboy' Fricke came to the notice of the poker world in January of 2007 when he took second place to Gus Hansen at the Aussie Millions tournament, and Annette 'Annette_15' Obrestad has been a terror in online multi-table tournaments since the young Norwegian first cashed in a freeroll to start her tournament career. And neither of these teens, who have won hundreds of thousands of dollars online, can yet enter a Las Vegas casino. But these two online celebrities joined internet poker gurus Sorel 'Imper1um' Mizzi and Bertrand 'ElkY' Grospellier at the tables in the Casino Barcelona today.
Also taking to the felt on Day 1a were 2007 WSOP bracelet winner Katja Thater and Alan Smurfit, along with 2006 bracelet winner Mark Vos, who shared a final table with Thater this summer at the Razz WSOP event that Thater captured. Vos finished the day atop the unofficial leader board, with Thater and Smurfit also surviving Day 1.
The Hendon Mob's Ram Vaswani made an early exit from the event, as did Fricke, who went to the rail trying to make a move against Cort Kibler-Melby's top set. Roland de Wolfe was eliminated late in the day when he couldn't push his opponent off his preflop with a button all-in move holding . The board came down , and de Wolfe was eliminated.
Phil Gordon had a frustrating day at the table, as he watched his stack rollercoaster all afternoon. In one hand he couldn't push his opponent off pocket twos with an all-overcard board, and in another he doubled up a short stack when his pocket fours were outflopped by the short stack's A-Q. A little while later, Gordon got a measure of revenge when his pocket made a bigger boat against his opponent's with a board of . Gordon called his opponent's all-in on the river, and his eights full of threes was better than threes full of kings, and Gordon sent one to the rail. Gordon made it to Day 2 with 16,000 in chips, up from his 10,000 starting stack.
After a relatively quiet start, 2005 EPT Deauville champion Brandon Schaefer flopped a set of kings and got his opponent to go all-in drawing dead on a board of A-K-7-x. Schaefer led out on the turn, and his opponent pushed all-in over the top. Schaefer quickly called, and his opponent tabled pocket jacks. Schaefer finished the day among the top ten chip stacks.
About 100 players survived Day 1a, with a larger field expected for Day 1b. Mark Vos and Sverre Sundbo led the field at the end of the day with 60,000 in chips, with some of the notable chip stacks as follows:
Mark Vos – 60,000
Sverre Sundbo – 60,000
Cort Kibler-Melby – 59,000
Rayan Nathan – 55,000
Richard Ashby – 49,000
Bjorn-Erik Glenne – 40,000
Brandon Schaefer – 30,000
Pete Giordano – 26,000
David Williams – 24,000
Noah Boeken – 21,000
Gordon, Obrestad, Paul Wasicka and Eric Friberg also made it through Day 1a. Liz Lieu, Johnny Chan and Marcel Luske are among the top names expected to join the field on Day 1b. Join PokerNews for our live updates, photos and interviews as the tournament kicks off at 5PM local time, noon on the U.S. east coast.