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World Poker Tour Grand Prix de Paris Day 1b: Hilmi Takes Overall Lead

Hicham Hilmi

Season XII of the World Poker Tour continued on Saturday as the second starting flight of the bwin WPT Grand Prix de Paris took place. Players took their last opportunity to put up €7,500 for a chance to become the latest WPT champion crowned at the Aviation Club de France.

At the end of five levels, it was WPT National Series Annecy winner Hicham Hilmi to bag up the biggest stack in the room with 111,050. This means that Himli will enter Day 2 as the chip leader with Day 1a big stack Todd Terry hot on his heels with 110,750.

Day 1b Unofficial Top 10 Chip Counts

1Hicham Hilmi111,050
2Lars Stefan Olofsson75,000
3Emile Petit74,975
4Jake Schwartz71,225
5Derrick Bessette65,675
6Kimmo Kurko62,525
7Jordan Cristos60,000
8Lauri Pesonen57,200
9Matt Salsberg54,000
10Jonnie Sonelin52,000

A grand total of 92 runners showed up for Day 1b and by the end of five levels only 74 remained. This number combined with the Day 1a entrants shows that 171 total players showed up for the two starting flights and 132 will return for Day 2. This total could see a boost of a few digits as players are allowed to use one of their reentries before the start of the second day.

End-of-day chip leader Himli saw a massive boost to his stack late in the day when he was able to score a double elimination and send the likes of Sean Jazayeri and Yossi Ifergan packing. According to the WPT live updates, the three were in an all-in confrontation before the flop with Ifergan holding {a-}{9-} and Jazayeri having {a-}{q-}. Himli had them both covered with the two remaining aces for {A-}{a-} and was able to hold as the five community cards hit the felt.

On his quest to the top, Himli was also able to eliminate Australian pro Jeff Rossiter. Himli, Rossiter, and a third player saw a {10-}{9-}{2-} flop and the third player checked. Rossiter fired out 2,200 and Himli made it 4,700 to go. The third player folded and Rossiter announced an all-in bet for 18,000. Himli snapped him off and showed {9-}{9-} for middle set. A dejected Rossiter tabled {10-}{9-} for top two pair and he was eliminated from play after failing to improve.

Finishing the day with a top 10 stack was defending champion Matt Salsberg. Salsberg, who was eliminated on Day 1a by chip leader Todd Terry, fired a second bullet on Day 1b and was able to bag up 54,000 in chips.

Other notable names to return for Day 2 include WPT Champions Club members Tommy Vedes (44,800), Barry Greenstein (32,325), Daniel Alaei (30,000), Ravi Raghavan (28,725), and Dave "Devilfish" Ulliott (24,000) as well as Paul Berende (47,975), Angel Guillen (40,000), John Juanda (32,000), Kara Scott (30,975), Steve O'Dwyer (19,825) and many more.

While those players were able to bag up a stack and return for the second day, others were not so fortunate. The likes of Paul Volpe, Timothy Adams, Brandon Cantu, Bryn Kenney, and Guillaume Darcourt all fell by the time the last hand of the day was dealt.

Players will return on Sunday for Day 2 where play will kick off at 2:30 p.m. CET. PokerNews will have a recap of the completed action at the end of the day, so be sure to return here as the quest for the newest WPT champion continues.

*Photo courtesy of

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