The 2009 PokerStars.com EPT Warsaw continued Wednesday with the second group of players ponying up 25,000 Polish zlotych and taking flight on Day 1b. The 115 who entered this session created a field of 203 runners representing 33 countries. At the end of seven levels, French pro Antony Lellouche bagged up more chips than anyone in the room, and he'll begin Day 2 in second place overall behind Day 1a juggernaut Carter Phillips.
The Casinos Poland saw another star-studded field of pros take to the felt amid the sea of online qualifiers and relative unknowns. Some of the notables who came out to play were 1998 WSOP champion Scotty Nguyen, 2009 WSOP heavyweight Vitaly Lunkin, EPT Presenter Michelle Orpe, Shaun Deeb, Sorel “1mper1um” Mizzi, and Sami “LarsLuzak” Kelopuro. Rumor has it that Gus Hansen is in Warsaw as well, but he was conspicuously absent from the field as registration closed after the second level.
The Team PokerStars Pros were out in full force, too, with the likes of Dario Minieri, Thierry Van Den Berg, Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier and Sebastian Ruthenberg. Most of the familiar players survived their opening day, though William Thorson, Florian Langmann, and Katja Thater all suffered early exits.
On the flip side, it was a classic case of déjà vu for Lellouche who surged to the head of his Day 1 class for the second consecutive year in Warsaw. No stranger to EPT success, Lellouche battered his tablemates with the perfect mix of aggression and discretion, and his stack swelled steadily as the day progressed. His first significant chip boost came in a confrontation with Jim “Mr_BigQueso” Collopy, which left the rail wide-eyed and gasping.
Collopy three-bet Lellouche's opening raise before the flop, and the two men went heads-up the rest of the way. On a board showing , Collopy fired bets on the flop and the turn with his opponent calling both streets. The on the river drew an all-in shove from “Mr_BigQueso”, and his move sent Lellouche deep into the think tank for several minutes. He finally made the call for about half of his remaining chips, and then Collopy flipped his air ball high into the air in frustration. Lellouche quietly tabled with his remarkable call earning him the big pot and the chip lead midway through the day.
He did not relinquish his position and moved steadily up the scoreboard for the remaining few levels to close out the night with 131,475 in his barely big-enough thin plastic bag. Canada's Jeff Sarwer and Italy's Alessio Isaia also finished near the top of the board with around 100,000 chips apiece.
In all, 84 players escaped their opening flights today, and they will join the 64 who survived yesterday to return for Thursday's Day 2. It promises to be an intense and entertaining day of poker as we begin to separate the wheat from the chaff and move toward the final table on Sunday. Play kicks off at 12:30 p.m. CET, and we'll be right there to bring you all the action in real time.