Day 1a of the World Poker Tour Malta kicked off on Tuesday with a starting field of 101 runners beginning their quests for the title. By the end of the day, the field was cut to 64 players, with Fabien Sartoris at the top of the chip lead with 127,350 in chips. He's followed by Franco Guastamacchia, Christian Nitsche and Thomas Wolff. Sitting in fifth place overall is 2011 November Niner Matt Giannetti with 101,025 in chips.
Poker pros Arnaud Mattern, Fabrice Soulier and McLean Karr all got behind a stack on Day 1a, but all three busted. Mattern hit the rail first, followed by Soulier and Karr.
According to the WPT Live Update Team, Soulier fell to Andreas Klatt. Soulier raised and Klatt three-bet before Soulier moved all-in for his last 18,000. Klatt called and showed pocket kings. Soulier held and was dominated. No help came on the board for Soulier, and Klatt won the pot and earned the elimination.
Karr hit the rail after the dinner break during the 150/300/25 level. Ilan Boujenah raised to 1,100 in middle position and Karr called on the button. Alessandro Borsa called from the big blind and the flop came down . Boujenah bet 1,100 after Borsa checked. Karr raised to 2,975 and Borsa made it 7,000 with the check-raise. Boujenah folded and Karr moved all-in for about 12,000. Borsa called and showed for trip sevens with an ace kicker. Karr had kicker problems with . The turn brought the and the river the , both of which missed for Karr and sent him packing.
Another notable to bust was the late-arriving Phil Hellmuth, who entered the event during Level 6 and busted shortly after getting to the table. Hellmuth ran a bluff that was called down by his opponent's ace high after Hellmuth bet all-in on the turn. The river missed him and he was eliminated from the event. This event is a re-entry format though, so you can expect to see Hellmuth back in the field for Day 1b.
Some of the other notables to bust on Day 1a included, Mihai Manole, Marvin Rettenmaier, John Eames and John O'Shea. The ones who made it through to Day 2 are Justin Bonomo, David Vamplew, Dominik Nitsche and Tony G.
Day 1b will take place on Wednesday, beginning at 1600 CEST (1500 BST). There will be plenty more action to check out, so be sure to stay tuned to PokerNews for the daily recap.
Don't forget to follow us on Twitter for all your up-to-the-minute poker news.
*Photo courtesy of the World Poker Tour