World Series of Poker Europe

European Poker Tour Vilamoura, Day 1b: Chess Prodigy Jeff Sarwer Leads the Way

Jeff Sarwer

Perhaps it was the weather that was more gray today compared to yesterday, perhaps it was because of the super-satellite last night. Whatever the reason, today's Day 1b at the European Poker Tour Vilamoura attracted 186 runners, a third more players than yesterday's Day 1a, bringing the total number of entries to 322 and generating an impressive €1,561,700 prize pool with first place paying out a mouthwatering €404,793.

Among the folks taking their chances today were the usual host of faces you might recognize from TV: Vanessa Rousso, Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier, Huck Seed, Andy Black, Dario Minieri and Peter Eastgate, all were in attendance, although not all of them arrived on time, naturally. Eastgate in particular could do with improving his timekeeping, after managing to arrive a whole hour late to take his seat at the most terrifying table in the room along with Rousso, Minieri and former poker press member-turned-pro Julien Brecard.

In addition, to the amusement of most everyone, Eastgate's Pokerstars Team Pro badge was fraudulently declaring him an American. After some failed efforts to find him a Team Pokerstars Pro Nordics patch, the badge was doctored with a pair of scissors to leave him without a nation to call home for the rest of the day. All four of the notables that started on that Table Of Doom, by the by, managed to bust out before the end of play.

One Marco della Tommasina, a rather excitable Italian, took an early chip lead after finding aces and knocking out two players with them to almost triple up. Johannes Strassmann was another early chip leader, as was Praz Bansi – the latter of whom is hoping to score what will be, despite a string of excellent tournament results and a WSOP bracelet, his first-ever EPT cash. Also taking an early lead was recent EPT Warsaw champion Christophe Benzimra, leading to speculation that we could see our first ever back-to-back EPT winner this week. He remains in the running, although not at the top of the leader board, as we go into Day 2.

The biggest winner at the Table Of Doom was young British online qualifier Matthew Nieberg who seemed to have it in for the Team Pokerstars Pros as he quietly took chips from pretty much all of them until Luca Pagano turned up at the table and took a good chunk of those chips back for Team Pokerstars. Pagano proceeded to take a few decent pots out of the big stack of Allan Baekke, too, and finished the day more than respectably.

Late climbers included Rob Yong and Anton Bertilsson. The latter managed to double through a very unhappy Sami Kelopuro with a set against Kelopuro's top pair. Another late climber, Jim "Mr_BigQueso" Collopy, turned up right from the airport this morning and decided that the best thing for his jet lag would be nine hours of poker. Chip leader at the close of play, though, was Canadian chess prodigy Jeff Sarwer sitting with 143,400 chips - although there were several Day 1a players who finished with more than that, and Sarwer goes into Day 2 well behind overall chip leader Ljubomir Josipovic, who has 192,900 chips.

Out of the 186 Day 1b starters, 106 made it through to join the Day 1a survivors, meaning that 177 players will be eschewing the beach for the casino once again tomorrow. Be sure to join us at noon CET at PokerNews for all the action live from the casino floor.

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