In the past six years the PokerStars European Poker Tour juggernaut has ploughed across Europe while Vienna sat and glanced an envious eye. Back in 2004, when the EPT last landed in Vienna it was Season 1 and it drew the largest field of that season when 297 players arrived in the Austrian capital. This season, we find ourselves back in Vienna only this time the field is going to be a little bit bigger as 234 players turned up for Day 1a.
The goal for the players today was to make it to Day 2 and after all the limps, raises, reraises, check-raises, shoves and folds, 117 players did in fact make it to Day 2, and will return to this stunning 19th-century, Renaissance-style Kursalon palace including our Day 1a chip leader Sergii Baranov.
Amongst the notable players not returning for Day 2 are Team Pokerstars Pros Arnaud Mattern, Pier Paolo Fabretti, Alex Kravchenko, Marcin Horecki, Vadim Markushevski and Pokerstars Team Online Player Andre Coimbra. Other notable players not returning are Anthony Roux, Markus Golser, John O’Shea, Dragan Galic and Michel Abecassis.
The first name being typed into most of the poker writer’s laptops was Jan Skampa, the 2009 EPT Prague winner. He reached the dizzy heights of 71,000 when the blinds were still only 100/200 – table 1, seat 1 and for a few hours the number 1. Skampa couldn’t hold on to that momentum though finishing the day with 40,500 chips.
The next person to top the leader board was Santiago Terrazas. The Spanish online qualifier is an EPT regular - most notably finishing third at EPT Barcelona last year for €300,000 and narrowly missing out on a second EPT final table when he finished 10th at the inaugural EPT Vilamoura a few months later. Terrazas will be returning for Day 2 with 59,100 in chips.
Close on Terrazas' heels in those early stages were Team Pokerstars Pro Martin Hruby, 2006 EPT Grand Final Winner Jeff Williams, Hendon Mobster Barny Boatman and Pokerstars Online Qualifier Marcus Naalden. But as quite often happens on Day 1 someone came from nowhere to take the chip lead. This someone was Ramon Cserei who finished 11th at San Remo in April this year. He managed to eclipse everyone when his pocket queens came from behind to beat Marcus Naalden’s pocket kings in a 140,000 pot.
Then as we reached the early evening a very dapper looking Team Pokerstars Pro Martin Hruby took the chip lead as the room broke for a 90- minute break. After the break there were a few more front-runners. These included Sergii Baranov who recently took down an EPT side event at Berlin this year, Mihai Manole, Nikita Malinovskiy, Pokerstars Online Qualifier Stephen Chidwick and Petre Ionescu. Then as the midnight hour approached Ramon Cserei retook the chip lead from Hruby and then passed it onto Sergii Baranov who finished on top with a total of 183,200.
Day 1b gets under way Thursday at noon local time and from all accounts the field promises to dwarf the field of today. Full counts and reports from the day are available under the Live Reporting and Chip Count tabs until then.