Now Live EPT Malta EPT Deauville Main Event Day 1b: Ayman Zbib Takes the Lead

Ayman Zbib

After 234 runners on Day 1a of the European Poker Tour Deauville Main Event and Chris Day emerging as the early frontrunner, it was almost predetermined that Day 1b would be a lot busier. It turned out exactly that way as a big field showed up for the second of two starting flights.

Late registration remained open the entire day. In fact, players will be allowed to sign up until the beginning of Day 2, so a final number of entrants won't be available until registration closes. It's going to be hard to break last year's number (782), though, but an impressive showing was still had. At the completion of Day 1b, the tournament clock indicated 433 players had signed up.

On Day 1a, just two Team PokerStars Pros entered and both survived after the first eight seventy-five minute levels. Day 1b saw a whole lot more Team Pros who tried their luck at the tables, but not all of them will join Marcin Horecki and Eugene Katchalov moving forward.

Hometown favorite Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier sat in the spotlight the entire day, not just because of his excellent card-playing skills, but more so because of his outfit. Grospellier showed up as the character Ezio Auditore da Firenze from the video game Assassin's Creed. A lot less spectacular than his outfit were his cards. Nothing much happened for the French superstar, and he ended the day with a mere 9,900 in chips.

Grospellier wasn't the only one dressing up for the occasion, either. French poker pro Guillaume Diaz showed up in a shark costume, presumably because he's also a shark at the tables. Today he wasn't the one feeding on the small little fish, though, as he was fodder for other players when he busted quite early on.

After Mike McDonald fell short in the Bahamas for the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure title, the elusive achievement for the first two-time EPT winner remains up for grabs. Defending EPT Deauville champ Remi Castaignon won't be that person, though, as he busted some time before the dinner break. Castaignon was already rather short when he four-bet with pocket sevens to 3,500. One of his opponents made the call, then also called the remaining 6,100 that Castaignon pushed forward on a flop for an all-in shove. The flop contained two diamonds, and Castaignon's opponent had {A-Diamonds}{7-Diamonds}. The player made a flush and busted the French EPT champion.

Other former EPT winners would fall as well. EPT Monte Carlo winner Steve O'Dwyer didn't feel well this morning, but decided to play anyway. His day would be as he felt, not that good. O'Dwyer played for a little over two hours and after getting coolered not once, but twice, it was time to hit the showers.

Team PokerStars Pro Luca Pagano was the one responsible for O'Dwyer's early exit. Pagano wouldn't do much good with the newly acquired chips as he ran into aces in a rather big hand and busted in the last level of the day.

Team PokerStars Pro and EPT Deauville Season 6 winner Jake Cody followed not much later. A hero call went terribly wrong as his opponent held the goods with a full house in what would be Cody's last hand. EPT Deauville Main Event Day 1b: Ayman Zbib Takes the Lead 101
Steve O'Dwyer did not make Day 2

During level six, Dave "Dubai" Shallow went from being potential chip leader, with almost 100,000 or so, to out in short order. Apparently he lost two big pots in succession in nasty spots to bust, and Sunny Chattha informed us of the action.

"He lost about 50,000 with {A-}{Q-} against aces on an {A-}{Q-}{6-}{6-} board," said Chattha. "And then on a king-high board, his opponent jammed the turn with pocket fives, [Shallow] called with {K-}{10-}, and the river was a five."

The main beneficiary of Shallow's demise appeared to have been Ayman Zbib, who built to a monstrous stack of 144,000. Zbib would end the day with 181,400, which makes him the overall chip leader going into Day 2.

When the final level of the day began, people started to loosen up. Table 12 was home to the tea-drinking Brits with Team PokerStars Pro Vicky Coren leading the chatter. A couple of tables over, other drinks were being ordered.

One more player that deserves a mention is a French singer, actor, and poker player with a massive social media following and over $1,000,000 in cashes. World Series of Poker gold bracelet winner Patrick Bruel was sitting comfortable all day as he gathered chips left and right. He ends the day with 92,300.

Dutch EPT debutant Niels van Leeuwen impressed himself and everyone else by winning the French Poker Series Main Event before the EPT started, topping a final table consisting of French players to land him the first prize of €175,000. He continued to impress on the first day of his first EPT with a rather spectacular hand where he overlimped aces. Long story short, he did get the money in pre flop, although he didn't win the main pot.

Then there were cracked aces, a limp re raised king-queen under the gun, sets over sets and all other sorts of exciting hands. It really is worth your time to check out the entire EPT Deauville live reporting blog.

Day 2 will be no different, and for the first time all the players will be playing in the same room. The money is not in sight yet, but Day 2 will again be filled with familiar faces, big pots, and insane bluffs. PokerNews will be covering the action from start to finish, so get your refreshing finger ready for dozens of updates, photos, and interviews with all your favorite players! We'll be back live from the tournament floor once again at 12 p.m. local time for another exciting starting day to Season 10's EPT Deauville. Be sure to join us then!

While you wait for Day 2 to come around, be sure to check out the following interview with the lovely Natalie Hof:

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