An impressive field turned out for Day 1a of the EPT Deauville — possibly just to get out of the miserable January rain. Whatever the reason, 339 players started began the day, raising expectations that the total number of runners will absolutely smash last year's record of 645.
Among the players confirmed to start were Team PokerStars Pros Peter Eastgate and Dario Minieri, but their respective hotel beds must have been supercomfortable as neither of them made it as far as the tables and both will be playing Day 1b instead.
Players who managed to make it all the way across the road to the Casino Barriere de Deauville included Team PokerStars Pros Katja Thater, Arnaud Mattern and Vlad Zhuba.
Mike "Timex" McDonald also managed to crawl out of bed to play some cards, and, of course, the natives were out in force on their home turf — Antoine Saout, Alexia Portal, Paul Testud, Michel Abecassis, Rui Cao and Remy Biechel were all in attendance for this first start day.
PokerStars sponsored player Adam Lounis was one of the first to hit the rail when his aces were undone by a pair of jacks that flopped a set. He was followed by an avalanche of exits including Voitto Rintala, Alain Roy and Guillaume de la Gorce, and by the end of the day the field had shrunk to fewer than 190 players.
Making Day 2 is better than getting busted, for sure, but it was to be an up-and-down sort of a day for many who did make it through. Arnaud Mattern enjoyed an early climb up to 60,000, before sinking back to just 20,000 during the last level of the day and then tripling up when his ace-king came good against tens and jacks to send him to Day 2 on 60,000. Rui Cao had a similarly bumpy ride, but eventually went through with a below-average stack.
Proceedings were put on hold for half an hour after the eighth level for the presentation of the French Poker Awards. Antoine Saout understandably cleaned up, taking the award for both Best Newcomer and Best Performance — plus he was there to collect his award, unlike winner of the Best International Player category, Mr. Phil Ivey.
Also picking up some French accolades were Ludovic Lacay (Best Player Under 26), Roger Hairabedian (Lifetime Achievement), Almira Skripchenko (Best Female Player) and Julien Brecard (People's Choice Award).
Jamel Maistriaux and Vladimir Geshkenbein both emerged as big stacks around halfway through the day, and both head into Day 2 in fine position. Emerging as overall chip leader late in the day, however, was Robert Cezarescu. He heads into Day 2 as the man to beat — on a commanding 216,900.
The soft cap of 600 on this tournament has been officially lifted, and we are expecting somewhere around 400 optimistic souls to try their luck on Day 1b. We will be right here on the tournament floor to keep an eye on them, so join us back at PokerNews.com from noon GMT+1 for all the action.
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