The final leg of what's been an epic few weeks for poker in the UK got underway today as the 2010 PokerStars.com European Poker Tour London Main Event hit town. Day 1a saw 339 players show up at the Hilton Metropole on bustling Edgware Road, and the tournament is now on track to beat the EPT's own record for largest tournament ever held in the UK.
Online qualifier Soheb Porbandarwala finished the day top of the leader board with 218,600, the only player over the 200,000 mark. A contingent of Dutch players dominated the top of the chip counts at the start of the day with Pim de Goede and Marcel van Klinken the biggest stacks over the first few levels. However, they both ended the day on roughly average stacks, most of the excess having disappeared into the stack of Porbandarwala who shared their table.
The tables were packed tightly as the Main Event field vied with several side events for space, and they were crammed with notable pros. Mobile camera crews squeezed through the narrow spaces between the tables, documenting the exits of Luca Pagano, Vanessa Selbst, Carlos Mortensen, Erik Seidel, Roland de Wolfe, Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier and Marcel Luske, among others.
After nine levels, 146 players remain. Porbalaya leads right now, but hot on his heels are Konstantin Bucherl, who finished fourth in the WSOP $10,000 PLO event this year, and Team PokerStars Pros Thomas Bichon and Joep van den Bijgaart.
Other relative big stacks include Barry Shulman, William Thorson and Greg Raymer; somewhere in the middle are Arnaud Mattern, John Juanda and Ivan Demidov; and bringing up the rear are Frank Kassela, Allen Cunningham, and Vanessa Rousso.
The whole thing starts all over again with a different cast tomorrow. Day 1b is expected to boast an even bigger field than Wednesday and this EPT is on track to break the record for the biggest tournament ever held in the UK, set at this event last year when it attracted 730 runners.
PokerNews will be back at the Hilton tomorrow from noon London time when we'll see if this already massive tournament does indeed turn into a record-breaking one.
Today is the last day to qualify for our $10,000 Sunday Million Freeroll on PokerStars. This is the fourth big Sunday Major freeroll we have had in as many months and this time the qualification target has been slashed. Don't worry if you miss it because we are about to announce even more of these magnificent value events!