It seems ages ago that Team Pokerstars Pro Liv Boeree managed to slip, slide and outwit 1,239 other opponents to take her huge €1,250,000 share of the €6 million in prize money at the PokerStars European Poker Tour San Remo. That haul was an EPT record, and many were expecting a similar payout on the penultimate stop of season seven.
The Day 1a start was delayed two hours to complete the registrations and get the 438-player field seated. Thomas Kremser said those immortal words and they echoed around the tournament floor moments before the cards started flying around the tables.
"Shuffle up and deal!"
Outside, the sun was shining on the Casino San Remo, and inside, it was the stars who were dazzling. And boy there were a lot of them. Team Pokerstars Pros Arnaud Mattern, Pieter de Korver, Viktor Blom, JP Kelly, Martin Hruby, Vadim Markushevski and Henrique Pinho all turned out in force. EPT Vienna winner Michael Eiler was here to try and make it two championships in one season, and former EPT Champions Anton Wigg, Jake Cody, Aaron Gustavson and Joao Barbosa were also in the house.
One of the early front-runners to emerge from the tables came all the way from Colombia. Mayu Roca had been in Europe for a few months and had managed to bag himself over $120,000 in prize money. As play hit Level 4, he was the chip leader, with 120,000.
As play moved into the dinner break Michael Eiler, Ramzi Jelassi, Simeon Naydenov and Andrew Teng started to close the gap on Roca; Eiler eliminating the dangerous Marc Inizan to take his place just behind the Colombian with just under 100,000 chips.
The young British guns were also making their assault on the leaderboard with Tom MacDonald, JP Kelly and Martins Adeniya the most notable players accumulating chips. At one point, former champion Jake Cody flopped a set of fours on a flop, only to be beaten by his opponent holding .
Team Pokerstars Pro Arnaud Mattern had promised to buy a new pair of shoes for all the ladies in the media room if he made the final table. The girls were sobbing after Mattern was knocked out in Level 6. Knowing the women in the media room as we do, Mattern could now use that money to buy himself into the $10,000 event!
JP Kelly and Tom MacDonald both had set backs and chip-stack cutbacks. Kelly losing significant pots to the quads of Arnaldo Petino and then having his river bluff called off by Sabato Lorenzo. MacDonald bluffed away a portion in a four-bet pot against Paul Trigo.
Then as the blinds got bigger and players' stacks got smaller, the field began to shrink. Viktor Blom left when his flopped nut straight was beaten by a rivered full-house, Henrique Pinho departed when his flush hit a brick wall called quads, Chris Moorman was very unfortunate when his turned straight was caught on the river by Marco Adams holding a higher straight and yet another former champion was lost when Joao Barbosa was eliminated.
As Thursday arrived, the somewhat tired Thomas Kremser announced the final three hands. The media darted this way and that, trying to capture a photo of the Day 1a chip leader as some big pots were being played simultaneously. In the end, Leonid Bilokur towered above the remanding 225 players left in the Day 1a field. Bilokur, who won a side event for €174,000 at EPT Berlin last year, will return on Day 2 with 187,900 chips and a great big smile on his face.
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