When registration closed on Day 1a of the inaugural PokerStars.net EPT Snowfest, 270 players had paid their money and taken their chances. There were a good few bleary eyes around the room following the free bar, fireworks, and random goats (we kid you not - pun intended) at the welcome party last night, but hangovers or not, some people would go on to have a very good day. The best day of all belonged to young German David Wintersberger. By the close of play, he had worked his way to the top of the pack with a stack of 290,200.
Wintersberger was a bit of a dark horse, flying under the radar for much of the day before a late surge saw him pull ahead of nearest chip rivals Bernhard Perner (257,500) and Team PokerStars Pro, and, by the by, birthday boy Julien Brecard (238,100). Nevertheless, Wintersberger has proven his mettle already on the EPT circuit, finishing seventh in a £500 shootout event at EPT London and cashing at EPT Berlin earlier this month, so his place at the top of the chip counts is not hugely surprising.
Good days were similarly had by Team PokerStars Pros Johannes Strassman, Alex Kravchenko and Vadim Markushevski. All finished near the good end of the chip counts.
Other famous faces who made it through the day, albeit on rather more modest stacks included Daniel Negreanu (65,700), Yury Kerzhapkin (49,600) and Max Pescatori (21,400). Arnaud Mattern is worthy of particular note. Down to just 3,000 early doors and resigned to spending the week snowboarding, he managed to double up three times in fairly quick succession and finished the day over 85,000 - an impressive comeback.
Martin Kabrhel busted in the first few minutes of play in a massive blind-on-blind cooler. "Ah, kings into aces, nothing special," he sighed and was free to run over the side events for the rest of the week. An avalanche of exits followed, and other notable folks who failed to make it through the day included Team PokerStars Pros Marcin Horecki, Chad Brown, Thomas Bichon, Stephen "stevie 444" Chidwick and Jeff Sarwer. PokerStars Sports Star and Olympic hockey player Fatima de Melo was another casualty, calling off most of her chips with ace-king-high against top pair toward the end of the day and failing to recover.
We're expecting an even bigger field to turn up for Day 1b tomorrow - the 500 soft cap has already been well and truly smashed, and the total number of runners could easily approach 600. Expected to grace the felt tomorrow are Sandra Naujoks, Dario Minieri and Nacho Barbero, among others. We'll be on the tournament floor from 2 p.m. CET, so join us back here at PokerNews.com for all the action, direct to your computer.