The field for Day 1a of the PokerStars.com European Poker Tour Grand Final was as star-studded as anyone could have asked for, with bunches of EPT champs, WSOP champs, and online superstars plunking down their €10,000 buy-in for the shot to become the hottest name in the poker world going into this summer’s WSOP.
Among the 396 competitors on Day 1a were WSOP Europe Main Event champions Annette Obrestad and John Juanda, WSOP Main Event champions Chris Moneymaker and Greg Raymer, and multiple bracelet winners Erik Seidel and Phil Ivey. Most of Team PokerStars Pro was in the house, with Barry Greenstein, Lee Nelson, Daniel Negreanu and Luca Pagano among the names representing the online juggernaut.
Even with a starting stack of 30,000, it didn’t take long before the casualties began to mount. Mike Vesia lost almost all of his starting stack in one of the first hands when he dropped a big hand to Erik Cajelais. His last few chips immediately went back into the middle as he doubled through Richard Ashby on the next hand, and then he moved all in again with under the gun. The button called with and hit a trey on the board to send Vesia out to enjoy the Monte Carlo scenery.
Another early exit was Constant Rijkenberg, whose attempt at back-to-back EPT wins came to naught as he busted early on Day 1a. He was joined by early bust-outs Phil Ivey, Greg Raymer, Tony G, and Mike “Timex” McDonald, who thought his pocket aces were good against the pocket kings of Ben Fineman. They were – until a king came on the turn to make Fineman’s set and silence the ticking of the Timex.
One of the happier stories of the day was Lee Nelson’s chip stack, which grew steadily throughout Day 1a to finish atop the leaderboard. Nelson picked up several big pots over the course of the day, including one where his opponent called big bets on both the turn and river as the board ran out . Nelson moved all in on the river and his opponent reluctantly called, mucking his hand and gathering his belongings as Nelson showed for two pair. Tablemate and fellow Team PokerStars Pro Johnny Lodden remarked, “Just raise it up with six-seven. Nice hand. I thought you had aces or queens."
"You didn't put me on seven-six?" replied Nelson
"I didn't think you had the moves," Lodden answered, joking.
Lodden joined Nelson among the survivors of Day 1a, as Nelson and Luca Pagano shared the top two spots on the chip counts. Other big names making it through the first day included Annette Obrestad, Humberto Brenes, James Obst, and JJ Liu.
Join PokerNews for all the live updates from Day 1b as the second half of the field takes to the felt in Monte Carlo.
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