After 10 one-hour levels, Day 1b of the World Poker Tour Merit Cyprus Classic Main Event ended on Sunday. By the time registration closed at the end of Level 6, 164 players had exchanged $4,400 for 30,000 tournament chips and the chance to become a WPT champion. Just before 0100 EEST, renowned tournament director Matt Savage called time on proceedings and only 65 players had chips to bag and tag; the dream of WPT glory had ended for 99 of our starters.
The title of end-of-day chip leader is one that every tournament poker player wants to lay claim to and it was a fiercely fought contest on Day 1b. David “Chino” Rheem and his 291,500-chip stack emerged with that title at the end of the day.
Rheem is a well-known figure on the poker circuit having reached the final table of the 2008 World Series of Poker Main Event (he finished seventh), having won the WPT Doyle Brunson Five Diamond Poker Classic; also in 2008 and more recently winning the inaugural Main Event of the Epic Poker League. Rheem was his usual vocal self through the day but he was backing up his table talk with his poker skills; and he also ran amazingly well. At different points throughout the day he cracked pocket jacks with pocket tens, then later cracked pocket aces (again with a pair of tens.) Then on the last hand of the night he had a 6,000 turn bet and a 20,000 river bet called on a board and was holding to put him well clear of the chasing pack.
From the moment he sat down at the felt, Michael “The Grinder” Mizrachi terrorized his opponents and quickly found himself with a pile of chips worth over 120,000. Mizrachi dropped off the pace toward the latter part of the day but he still finished with a respectable stack of 54,300.
Others who were flying high included the relatively unknown Hüsnü Sincar (247,500), the loose-aggressive Giuseppe Pantaleo (191,300) and the hyper-aggressive former WPT Amneville champion Sam El Sayed (214,300); all three of those players crossed the 200,000 chip barrier in the last couple of levels of the day.
Other notable players to safely navigate through to Monday's Day 2 include the man who reached the 2008 World Series of Poker Main Event Kelly Kim (92,200), WSOP bracelet winner Dominik Nitsche, and former EPT Grand Final champion Nicolas Chouity (42,100).
The 65 survivors from Day 1b will converge with the 67 who made it through from yesterday's Day 1a meaning there will be 132 of poker's finest returning to the all-inclusive Merit Casino on Monday at 1300 EEST (0300 PDT) to play out Day 2. The PokerNews Live Reporting Team will be there bringing you all of the action, so be sure to tune in and follow along.
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