It was the event everyone was waiting for as today saw the fourth ever World Series of Poker Europe Main Event kick off with inaugural champion Annette Obrestad given the honor of announcing "shuffle up and deal." However, that would prove to be one of the high points of her day as the talented young Norwegian was knocked out early when her ace-king ran into king-jack on a board.
Despite the huge interest in the £10,000 Heads-Up event, the numbers for today's Day 1a of the Main Event were down this year by almost 20 players as only 137 stumped up the money to try to follow in Barry Shulman's footsteps and chase down bracelet gold over the next five days. By the end of the day's six 90-minute levels, 41 percent of the field was lost, with under 80 players remaining, and Nicolas Levi, the distinctive hat-wearing Frenchman based here in London, at the top of the pack with 153,850 chips.
Despite Levi admitting he hit a lot of flops early in the day, this did not mean he was not capable of making some big moves. At the 200/400/50 level, Levi opened from UTG+1 to 1,000 before Scott Montgomery made it 3,200, Levi 4-bet to 8,100 before the former Main Event finalist Montgomery made it 19,000 with around 40,000 behind. Levi, however, was undeterred and six-bet his opponent all-in, eliciting an eventual fold before triumphantly showing the , adding nearly 20,000 to his stack without even reaching a flop.
Levi wasn't the only French player doing well, Arnaud Mattern picked up a huge pot when Brandon Cantu went for the big move holding a straight draw against Mattern's set and was unable to get there in a 122,000 pot. The last level did not go so well for Mattern, however, and he finished with around 80,000.
He still managed better than some, though, Sorel Mizzi, Daniel “Jungleman12” Cates, Andy Bloch and Cantu were all casualties while Vanessa Selbst almost made a miracle comeback. She had dropped to just 400 in chips after kings versus aces left her crippled but managed to recover all the way to 15,000 until chip leader Levi knocked her out.
Phil Hellmuth did not make it through the day either, though memories of his “entrance” will certainly last longer than he did. Arriving in a double-decker red bus, Hellmuth was flanked by 11 models all dressed as Lady Gaga with one singing “Poker Face.” Having wrongly managed to enter the Empire Theatre instead of the Casino, Hellmuth arrived with a full marching band to a mixture of bemusement, laughter and in most cases, annoyance. Hellmuth's path took him right past the four £10,000 heads-up events emifinalists who were deep in play and probably trying hard to ignore all the antics behind them. The late entrance did not help Hellmuth, though — he busted just a few hours into his day.
The majority of the field survived, though, Leo Margets and Allen Cunningham managing to amass solid stacks while Rémy Biechel and Almira Skripchenko ensured a successful day for the French. But tomorrow promises to be even bigger as Phil Ivey, Daniel Negreanu, Tom Dwan, Sam Trickett, JP Kelly, James Akenhead and Praz Bansi are all expected to play in what will likely be an even bigger turnout.
Day 1b will start at 12:00 p.m. local time on Friday and the Pokernews Live Reporting Team will be back on the floor to bring you all of the action!
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