The 2010 Full Tilt Poker Merit Cyprus Classic kicked off on Wednesday with two events, one being the elite $25,000 High Roller Freeze-Out. A field of 36 has been reduced to 24 after one day of play with all with eyes on the top prize. The prize pool has not been released yet, but the players have been told that the top five places will be paid, with first place receiving 45 percent of the prize pool. Emerging with the top stack in the room was David Benyamine, finishing the day with 285,500.
Benyamine got off to a rough start, losing about 35 percent of his stack during Level 1, but he recovered in a big way during Level 2. He saw a flop of with three opponents and everyone checked. The turn brought the and Benyamine fired out 7,300. November Niner Filippo Candio raised to 17,000, and action moved to Chris Karagulleyan. He flat-called before the player on the button also called. Benyamine, with a pained expression on his face for a little while, moved all-in for 59,975. Candio quickly folded, Karagulleyan immediately went all-in over the top, and the fourth player in the hand quicky called all-in, as well. Benyamine had the best of it, showing for the flush, while Karagulleyan tabled and the other opponent turned over . It was a safe for Benyamine on the river, vaulting his stack to over 200,000 en route to his Day 1 chip lead.
Second in chips is Jon Turner, known to many in the online world as Pearljammer. Registering late in the day, Turner's big jump to the top came after he and an opponent went to war on an flop. Turner started the hand with roughly 180 big blinds and shortly found himself all-in with against his opponent's . Turner made the nuts on the river when the fell, crossing the 200,000 chip mark and ultimately ending the day with 278,200.
Other notables to make it through to Day 2 include poker's juggernaut Phil Ivey, November Niners Michael "The Grinder" Mizrachi and John Dolan, Carter Phillips, Sam Trickett, Sorel Mizzi, and Andrew Feldman.
Ivey got himself off to a great start, doubling up early on a board holding the . His opponent paid him off on the turn with the . That hand put him at the top of the leader board for a bit, but he then dropped back to the middle of the pack after doubling up Martin Kabrhel. Ivey paid off Kabrhel's river shove on a board of , only to see Kabrhel table the for eights full of jacks.
David "Chino" Rheem had a tumultuous day, ending after flopping top pair with the nut flush draw and running into Phillips' top set. Rheem missed his flush and hit the rail, later joined by Erik Cajelais along with VP of International Marketing for Merit-Grand Casino Clubs and President of Merit Poker, Mike Peltecki.
Play resumes at 5:00 p.m. local time Thursday, an hour later than originally scheduled. Our Live Reporting Team will be back on the floor to keep you up to date on everything that happens, and as always, follow us on Twitter for up-to-the-minute news
Right now you can qualify for Late Night Poker, the Poker Million, the Masters Series and the Full Tilt Series Espana exclusively at Full Tilt Poker.