There was an awful lot of hype surrounding the inaugural PokerStars.net EPT Berlin ― the German leg of the tour newly moved from the rather uninspiring city of Dortmund ― and for once the hype was justified. With this expected to be the largest poker tournament ever held in Germany, and a sweet €1,000,000 guaranteed for first place, players were falling over themselves to secure a seat.
The venue was originally planned to be a purposefully built glass palace but for reasons unknown this never happened. So it was that the whole shebang was moved to the rather nice ballroom at the Hyatt next door to the casino, and 389 Main Event players (and later in the day, a side event as well) squeezed into the rather limited space, many still nursing hangovers from the spectacular party hosted by PokerStars Monday night, and got down to work.
Usually the bulk of the big-name pros opt to play Day 1b instead, but today's Day 1a field saw a very impressive number of famous faces put up their money and sit down at the tables. Team PokerStars Pros who decided to play today included Katja Thater, Ben Kang, Tom McEvoy, Vicky Coren, Arnaud Mattern, Sebastian Ruthenberg, Michael Keiner, Vlad Zguba, George Danzer and Johannes Steindl. Also in the Day 1a mix were Juha Helppi, Marc Naalden, Barny Boatman and Praz Bansi ― impressive stuff indeed.
People having a good start to the day included Czech EPT fixture Martin Kabrhel. The king of the EPT side events (he won back-to-back side events at EPT Vilamoura and EPT Prague before taking down the €20,000 High Roller event at Deauville) doubled up in the first level but couldn't hang on to the chips and busted before the day was out. No prizes for guessing how he's going to be spending the rest of his time in Berlin.
Arnaud Mattern had an up-and-down sort of day ― but on the whole there was more down than up and he busted out just after the dinner break. He peaked at around 75,000 but eventually managed to four-bet himself all-in with king-queen only to find Stuart Fox calling with ace-king. Mattern failed to spike and hit the rail giggling.
Also among the hordes of the busted by the end of the day were such luminaries as McEvoy, Ludovic Lacay, Johan "busto_soon" van Til, Maxim Lykov, Jan Skampa, Antony Lellouche and Jan Skampa.
Chip leader as Day 1a is consigned to the history books is one Kfir Yamin of Israel. After a late surge, he will go into Day 2 on 213,500. Other folks near the top of the chipcount pops include Rachid ben Sharif, Carlos Oliveira, Albert Iversen, and Team PokerStars Pro Danzer. Also among the 196 players still in the running, albeit on rather more modest stacks, are Helppi, Thater, Thomas Bichon, Jeff Sarwer, Nasr El Nasr and Sam Chartier.
Before we can progress to Day 2, though, there is the small matter of Day 1b. If today's field is anything to go by, tomorrow is going to be, in every sense of the word, huge. Join us back at PokerNews from noon CET for all the action direct from the tournament floor to your computer screen.
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