It was a relatively bijou field that turned out for Day 1a of this year's PokerStars.net European Poker Tour Snowfest. Only 180 players coughed up the requisite €3,500 to buy in, well down from last year's 270-strong Day 1a field. The reason for the downturn in numbers wasn't clear, but we suspect that the perfect skiing conditions in Saalbach-Hinterglemm today may have had something to do with it. We expect to see a larger turnout Monday, although we are unlikely to improve on last year's field of 546.
Team PokerStars Pro Arnaud Mattern was one of the first casualties of the day. Reduced to 13,000 after a few early clashes, he got the lot in with and looked good for a double-up against his opponent's , but a queen dropped on the turn to send the Frenchman downhill for the rest of the week.
EPT founder and Team PokerStars Pro John Duthie amassed a big stack early, but chose to bluff off much of it with offsuit. After two more hands, he disappeared off into the Alpine afternoon, just in time for a nice bit of apre-ski.
Other players who failed to last the day and now have to endure a whole awful week of skiing, eating and otherwise having fun rather than playing the Main Event include Stephen "stevie444" Chidwick, John O'Shea and Marcin Horecki.
This has, so far, been the year of the Brits at the EPT, and it seems to be turning out nicely again for the U.K. Only a handful of Brits took to the felt for today's field, and although 2009 WSOP Main Event finalist James Akenhead and Irish Open champion James Mitchell both crashed out just after the dinner break, their fellow countryman Martins Adeniya seemed to be enjoying enough good fortune for all of them. "I've just flopped the nuts a few times and got paid," he said, a couple levels into the day of his early big stack. By the end of the day, he had increased his stack to an impressive 182,500, enough to claim the overnight chip lead by a massive margin of 50,000.
Other notable big stacks included high-stakes heads-up specialist Wim Bos (130,200), Josh Prager (91,200) and Dominik Nitsche (92,000). Also still in the running are Team PokerStars Pros Alex Kravchenko and Michael Keiner, EPT Berlin runner up Ilari Tahkokallio and current king of the EPT side events Kristijonas Andrulis.
Day 1 starts all over tomorrow at 2 p.m. local time and it promises to be a good field — Liv Boeree, Kevin MacPhee, Fatima Moreira de Melo, Lex Veldhuis, George Danzer and Jan Heitmann are among the players confirmed to take a shot at this comparatively diminutive EPT.
The Live Reporting Team will be back on the floor then to bring you all the action as it happens. But if you can't wait until the Austrian afternoon, take a look at brand new PokerNews hostess Laura Cornelius enjoying the sights and beverages of picturesque Saalbach-Hinterglemm in our EPT welcome video below.