Now Live EPT Malta EPT Barcelona, Day 1b: Ruthenberg, Lundell Top Session EPT Barcelona, Day 1b: Ruthenberg, Lundell Top Session 0001

A Day 1b field of 321 raised the total entrants in the European Poker Tour Barcelona Open Main Event to 619, building a first-place prize of almost $1.9 million. Joining the fray on Day 1b were Team PokerStars pros Daniel Negreanu, Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier, Dario Minieri, Katja Thater and Isabelle Mercier. World Champion Scotty Nguyen was also in the field, as were previous EPT champs Peter Jepsen, Tim Vance and Julian Thew.

Team PokerStars took an early hit, as several prominent pros headed to the rail early. Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier and Isabelle Mercier were among the early casualties on Day 1b, as was Daniel Negreanu, who got off to a fast start but ran into trouble long before the dinner break. Negreanu saw a multi-way flop of {q-Clubs}{10-Diamonds}{2-Clubs} with {k-Clubs}{10-Clubs}. He fired out at the flop and was raised by one opponent. Negreanu moved all in, and his opponent quickly called with {2-Spades}{2-Hearts} for bottom set. No additional clubs came down for Negreanu, and he was done.

Other notable eliminations on Day 1b included Luca Pagano, Scotty Nguyen, Alex Outhred, Katja Thater and William Thorson, who went out on a tremendous cooler hand. Thorson fired out at the Q-Q-4 flop with A-Q and found one caller. The ace on the turn gave him a full house, and Thorson happily bet again, and was called again. Thorson moved all in when a nine landed on the river, and was called by the only hand that beat him – pocket aces.

Brice Cournut, who made the final able of the Partouche Poker Tour Cannes Main Event last week, took an early chip lead on Day 1b and maintained a big stack all day to finish among the leaders. Another big stack throughout the day belonged to Stephen "stevie444" Chidwick, the online wunderkind who won dozens of seats to the 2008 WSOP Main Event but was unable to use any of them due to age. Chidwick joined fellow online superstar Sorel Mizzi in the top five chip stacks at the end of Day 1b.

Mizzi picked up a big pot late in the day when he called an all-in raise from middle position and an over-shove from Theo Tran with pocket queens. Tran showed {a-Spades}{k-Spades}, while the original raiser tabled {a-Diamonds}{q-Diamonds}. No help came on the board for his opponents and Mizzi sent two players packing in one hand to solidify his place among the chip leaders.

Sebastian Ruthenberg finished the day atop the leader board, claiming another big pot shortly before play ended. Ruthenberg called a preflop raise from the button to see a flop of {9-Diamonds}{6-Hearts}{4-Spades}. Both players checked to see the {7-Spades} land on the turn. Ruthenberg then led out, and his opponent called. The {j-Spades} came on the river, and Ruthenberg led out again when his opponent checked. His opponent thought for a long moment before finally calling to see Ruthenberg's pocket nines for the flopped set. His opponent mucked and Ruthenberg locked up the chip lead as time expired on Day 1a.

Preliminary counts showed these among the leading stacks for Day 2 action:

Sebastian Ruthenberg - 110,000

Mikael Lundell - 110,000

Brice Cournut - 95,000

Jonas Klausen - 90,000

Jonathan Stal - 66,000

Stephen Chidwick - 64,000

Kristian Ulriksen - 49,000

Maz Nawab - 40,000

Sorel Mizzi - 39,000

Joe Pelton - 38,500

Join PokerNews tomorrow at 3PM Barcelona time as the survivors from both flights of Day 1 are combined to begin their march towards the final table and the EPT Barcelona championship.

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