Day 1b of the PokerStars.com European Poker Tour Budapest Main Event kicked off on Wednesday with even more big names rounding out the 532-player field. Taking to the felt on Day 1b were WSOP bracelet winners Max Pescatori, Alan Smurfit, Dario Minieri and Davidi Kitai. EPT champions Vicky Coren, Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier, Julian Thew and Michael Martin also joined the field. Grospellier made his way across the Atlantic to Hungary after winning the Festa al Lago WPT event at the Bellagio on Sunday, after joining Gavin Griffin and Roland de Wolfe as the only players to win titles in both the WPT and EPT.
If Day 1a was a story of French dominance as Ludovic Lacay and Arnaud Mattern took charge of much of the action, Day 1b was the exact opposite, as that country's players headed to the rail in droves, led by a very pregnant Alexai Portal, who busted in one of the early levels. As the day went on, Pascal Perrault, Fabrice Soulier and Mathieu Jaunay all joined the list of dispirited Frenchmen eliminated from the EPT Budapest stop.
Other notable eliminations on Day 1b included Noah Boeken, Max Pescatori, Dario Minieri and Julian Thew, who left after a nasty hand with Christoph Haller and another opponent. Action was three-handed to the turn when the board read and the unknown opponent led out. Haller raised, and Thew moved all in over the top. The original bettor got out of the way, and Haller made the call. Thew showed for a flopped set, but Haller tabled the cooler with , and Thew was looking for a one-outer. The river was the , and Thew was done.
That hand left Haller with a healthy stack, and he took the chip lead late in the day with a rivered straight on a board of 7-A-Q-4-10. Haller fired a big bet at the river and his opponent called with J-10 to Haller's K-J for the Broadway straight. Haller's stack slipped slightly in the waning moments of the day as Mauro Corsetti surged into the chip lead in the last level of play. Several notable players made it through the field to Day 2, including Kara Scott, Johnny Lodden, William Thorson and Alex Kravchenko. Two local Hungarian players, Tibor Tolnai and Denes Kalo, also made it to Day 2.
Preliminary chip counts showed these players among the leaders as chips were bagged at the end of the day:
Mauro Corsetti - 135,000
Pierre Husson - 71,000
Casey Kastle - 70,000
Praz Bansi - 68,000
Christoph Haller - 63,000
Milan Andrejkovics - 62,000
Ivo Donev - 48,000
Johnny Lodden - 42,000
Severin Walser - 42,000
Janek Schleicher - 40,000
Alex Kravchenko - 40,000
Join PokerNews on Thursday at 1PM Budapest time for all the live updates as the survivors from both starting flights combine for Day 2.