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World Series of Poker Europe Main Event Day 1b: Last Minute Fireworks Give Zolotow the Chip Lead

Steve Zolotow

Day 1b of the World Series of Poker Europe Main Event was under way just after 12 p.m. at the Empire Casino in London with 178 players forking over the £10,000 to join the 156 runners from yesterday. Steve Zolotow joins yesterday's leaders Brian Powell and Jason Mercier as the day-1b chip leader. Zolotow is one of 334 players who began the event, 36 who will cash in the event, with the winner taking home £801,603 and the third World Series of Poker Europe Main Event bracelet.

If you were looking for recognizable faces at the Empire, you would not be disappointed; the feature table saw four-time bracelet winners Daniel Negreanu and Barry Greenstein join 2007 WSOPE Champion Annette Obrestad. Later in the day, Chris Ferguson joined the fray as well. Others around the room were Antonio Esfandiari, David Williams, Dennis Philips, Michael Binger, Josh Arieh, Peter Eastgate, and reigning WSOPE Champion John Juanda.

Zolotow, who has about 160,000 chips, earned most of them in a big pot at the end of the night holding pocket threes on a {q-Spades}{j-Spades}{3-Diamonds} flop. Through a series of raises and reraises, Zolotow and his unknown opponent got all their money in, both with about 80k. His opponent held bottom two pair and was looking for a jack to survive, but it never materialized and Zolotow scooped and then bagged all the chips.

Others who saw their stacks rise into serious contention were Praz Bansi, Daniel Negreanu, Steven Fung, Noah Boeken and November Nine member Antoine Saout.

Not everyone was quite so fortunate. Jean-Robert Bellande had a day he'd certainly like to forget, as the former reality television star was seen in the tournament area during level two looking for an additional £1,500 to complete his buy-in. Bellande got the dough but should have kept it. His biggest hand of the day came against Scotty Nguyen, where Bellande told us he had pocket jacks. On a {2-Clubs}{4-Spades}{5-Clubs}{7-Spades} board, Bellande bet 4,800, only to see Nguyen make it 10,000 total. Bellande hesitantly called and then checked when the {3-Clubs} hit on the river triggering a bet of 10,000 from Nguyen.

"That three of clubs has gotta be a bad card for you after your raise on the turn," Bellande said. "I've played one hand the entire tournament, just one hand," he said before reluctantly folding.

Bellande would bust about an hour later after getting his remaining chips all in with ace-king versus queen-jack. A queen fell on the river sending Bellande home for the day. Before leaving, the outspoken "Survivor" decided to to toss a black $100 chip on 23 at one of the many roulette tables. As the chip was midair, the dealer claimed "no more bets," sending the chip back to Bellande. Needless to say, 23 was a winner and once again Bellande would be left on the losing side.

Other players joining Bellande out the door were Jennifer Harman, whose pocket kings were flushed out by a player with ace-queen when a fourth diamond hit the board, JC Tran, Alex Torelli, Joe Sebok, Vitaly Lunkin, Neil Channing and 2001 WSOP Main Event champion Carlos Mortenson.

The World Series of Poker Europe Main Event continues tomorrow at 5:30 p.m. The delay is due to observance of the Jewish holiday. Check out our Live Reporting page for continuing coverage and up-to-the minute reports live from the floor of the Empire Casino, and be sure to follow us on Twitter.

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