The second Day 1 flight at the PokerStars European Poker Tour Vilamoura was larger, as expected, drawing 203 players from the sun to the felt for eight hours of deep-stacked tournament poker action. More than half (119) made it through all eight levels. Combined with yesterday’s 181, the field size of 384 is the largest ever seen at a live poker event in Portugal, and it brings with it a similarly record-breaking prize pool: €1,862,400. Top prize (just shy of half a million Euro) might be the ultimate goal, but there are still multiple days to play and a couple hundred keen players to beat before that comes into view.
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Those who probably already have their sights set on external amusements (or side events) because they busted include Daniel Negreanu, one of the best-known Pokerstars Team Pros, who had a very volatile day, dropping, doubling, building, dropping again, and finally running out of steam late in the day. Joining him in the Team Pro Busto corner are Bertrand ‘ElkY’ Grospellier, Noah Boeken, Matthias and Christophe de Meulder and Thomas Bichon, but a big selection both of Team Pros and well-known players from live events on both sides of the Atlantic have made it through and will be returning tomorrow to combine with the rested Day 1a survivors to play through another day.
These include, but are not limited to: EPT champ Liv Boeree, Nordic Promo Passport winner Vegard Nygaard, David Williams, William Thorson, Sebastian Ruthenberg, Dara O’Kearney, Antonio Tarantino and Brandon Cantu. Deserving of individual mention is Jonathan Weekes, who made it through with a good stack (although no longer a top fiver) having gotten off to the best start possible in level one. When everyone else in the room was trading hundreds back and forth from their 30k starting stacks, he busted two players in a matter of minutes and was sailing on with 90,000 right from the start. His table line-up changed, players like Kristijonas Andrulis and Tom Marchese came and went, but the quiet British player took his good start and ran with it through all eight levels.
Those best-positioned for a deep run at the end of Day 1b include another Brit, Sam Trickett (whose résumé shows deep runs at the WSOP and success on the circuit thus far), who with 120,000 is only trailing a few others such as Danny Neess and Nick Heather (Day 1b runner up with 140,800). Sorel Mizzi too built an early stack, as has been seen often before from the player having a pretty remarkable year and held on to it through to the end of play ending with 132,200. Just before the last three hands were announced, Joseph Ebanks came out of nowhere to turn a mid-high stack into a monster one with a huge jacks vs. ace-king all in preflop race against John O’Shea for a 140,000-chip pot, suggesting that the early leaders might have a new face joining them, but mere minutes later, another big confrontation with Cantu dropped him back to his former chip level. Exciting though.
In front of them all remains Leonid Bilokur, a Russian PokerStars qualifier whose previous experience includes the €2k side event at EPT Berlin (which he won for €174,000). His exact chip count is 161,200, putting him slightly ahead of the top stack from Day 1a and, therefore, in poker’s equivalent of pole position going into Day 2, starting tomorrow at 12:00 p.m. local time.