This fall season is jam-packed with can't-miss poker tournaments, and the European poker world has picked up shop in Cannes and moved across the border to Italy for the PokerStars.it European Poker Tour San Remo.
Friday was Day 1a, and 359 players turned up to the casino with the requisite €4,900 in hand. When play concluded for the night, just over 200 of them remained, and Gianluca Trebbi was the one holding the biggest stack with 159,600. He's trailed closeyly by Massimiliano Forti and his 159,100.
Most of the Team PokerStars Pros are slated to play Day 1b, but a smattering did turn up for what figures to be the smaller and softer of the two flights. Things did not go well for Marcin Horecki, Arnaud Mattern, Daniel Negreanu, and Jason Mercier, and all three of them were run out before their dinner break. Victor Ramdin and Vanessa Rousso were both short at times on Friday, and only one of them survived to bag up chips at night's end. Ramdin is out, but Rousso bagged up 33,100. The other Pros returning on Day 2 are John Duthie (51,700) and Lex Veldhuis (67,600).
Italy's own Marco Traniello was in the house on Friday, and he brought his lovely wife Jen Harman with him. Both halves of the poker couple found themselves among the chip leaders at one point or another, and Traniello's finishing count of 137,700 puts him in the mix of chip leaders. Harman bagged up a respectable 71,000, and the two of them will get to spend a relaxing day together on Saturday before returning to the felt on Sunday.
San Remo is perennially one of the favorite EPT stops among the regulars, partially because of the ruthless and exploitable style in which many of the locals play. And indeed, there was an inordinate number of unusual plays over the course of the early action.
In a three-way pot, Luca Cainelli essentially bluffed his tournament away in the second level, and Massimiliano Martinez was in no mood to mess around, either. He made a big, bad call on the turn with just ace-king high to double Govert Metaal, and a short time later, he six-bet jammed on Kevin MacPhee with . MacPhee had two kings, and the knockout allowed him to become the first in the room to amass a power stack. He finished the day on a bit of a slide, but he still has 99,200 to return to in a couple of days.
While there was certainly some good action on the tables, it became difficult for some to avoid the minefield that is Day 1 in San Remo. Joining Martinez and Cainelli on the rail were a slew of notables, the likes of Maria Ho, Sam Chartier, John Racener, Dan Kelly, and Friend of PokerStars Pierre Neuville.
Those who did survive can soak up the fantastic weather on Saturday while a new batch of players takes their seats inside. Day 1b is slated for the same 1400 CET (0500 PDT) start time, and we figure to add at least another 400 players to the total field — possibly even closer to 500.
*Photo courtesy of Neil Stoddart and PokerStars.