As Day 1a and Day 1b survivors combined in a single Day 2 field, 177 players trudged back from the beach to the bunkeresque confines of the Casino Vilamoura today when play began to get serious at the inaugural PokerStars.com European Poker Tour Vilamoura.
Chip leader going into the day was Ljubomir Josipovic, who picked up a good proportion of his stack by knocking out Ludovic Lacay on Day 1a. Indeed, he would go on to build his stack throughout the day, finishing up in fourth place in the chip count. Other players who built some impressive stacks heading into the day included German Team Pokerstars Pro Ruben Visser, Lithuanian online qualifier Dominykas Karmazinas, and EPT circuit fixture Daniel Drescher.
One of the day's earliest casualties was Praz Bansi, continuing what appears to be some sort of curse on his EPT performances. Despite being widely regarded as one of the U.K.'s finest poker players and boasting a WSOP bracelet, variety of high-profile final tables and list of other cashes as long as Thomas Kremser's arm, he has never cashed in an EPT. This event would prove no exception after he bluffed himself into a tricky spot, drawing dead with two overcards to Martin Wendt's made full house on the turn.
Also unable to go the distance were Sami "LarsLuzak" Kelopuro, Chad Brown and Katja Thater, all busting out within the first few levels. Casualties a little later in the day included Nicolas Levi, Shaun Deeb and JP Kelly, as well as No. 1 man on the EPT leader board, Luca Pagano. Also failing to move on to Day 3 was Jason Mercier who managed to six-bet himself all-in with Q-J offsuit, naturally to smack into Anthony Lellouche's pocket kings. "I decided to punt my stack," Mercier said as he exited with a shrug. "I'm the worst ever."
British online qualifier Matthew Nieberg amassed a massive chip lead around halfway through the day, at his peak holding nearly twice as many chips as his nearest rival. He proceeded to lose pot after pot, however, and eventually ran a full house into Wendt's bigger full house to send him to the rail within an hour and a half of acquiring the chip lead.
Perhaps the most interesting day of all was had by Andy Black. Down to less than his Day 1 starting stack at one point, he managed to flop a set and turn quads against Visser's pocket jacks at an opportune moment to propel him into the big leagues. Visser got his revenge, though - on the very last hand of the day, Black managed to bluff his way all-in with 9-10 and was snap-called by Visser holding A-K, doubling Visser up to 389,500 - a top three stack. Down to 19,400, Black goes into Day 3 as the official short stack.
Day 1b chip leader, Jeff Sarwer, continued his fine run, outplaying pretty much everyone in his way, including Shaun Deeb, whose top pair was no good against Sarwer's flopped straight, which sent Deeb to the rail and moved Sarwer into the overall lead in the last level of the day. He will be top of the chip count pops when we return tomorrow with 549,800, his nearest rival Anthony Lellouche holding 484,700. It's not over yet, though, as there a number of terrifying players left among the 69 runners, including Jan Heitmann, Johannes Strassmann and Ross Boatmann.
Join us right here at PokerNews.com tomorrow from noon W.E.T. for all the action, live from the casino floor.