The final main event of Season 10 of the European Poker Tour kicked off in style under the open roof of the poker room in Monte Carlo. Last year, Steve O'Dwyer won the €1,224,000 top prize by beating arguably the toughest final table in poker history, so this year's event had a lot to live up to.
There were 214 entries on Saturday's Day 1a, nearly twice as many as the first start day last year. After eight 75-minute levels and a long, grueling day, it was Samir Hadad (pictured) who finished as the chip leader, taking his first step on to what he hopes will be a path to poker immortality. He finished the day with 178,100.
Talal Shakerchi was second in chips with 159,500, and after play ended PokerNews asked how he’d accumulated his chips.
"Loads of different hands," Shakerchi explained, "Three or four people were all in against me for between 15K and 40K — lost a load, won a load, lots of swings. It was fun. I’ll definitely be back tomorrow." Reminded that Day 2 of the Main Event would be Monday, he immediately wanted to know if the €5,000 tournament on Sunday was a one-day turbo. If so, he will most likely be playing that.
Team PokerStars Pros Bertrand Grospellier (72,700 in chips), Alex Kravchenko (41,800), Marcel Luske (37,700) and George Danzer (26,400) each advanced to Day 2. They'll be joined by PokerStars Team Online member Marc-Andre Ladoucer (38,400).
Despite the ongoing €100,000 Super High Roller, a lot of eyes were on Victoria Coren Mitchell, the Team PokerStars Pro having become the first-ever two-time EPT champion just a few days ago in Sanremo. There was not going to be any repeat performance, though, as Coren Mitchell busted out to former PCA runner-up Chris Oliver with queens against aces.
Other Team Pros who busted were Jonathan Duhamel, Vanessa Selbst, Team SportStar Fatima Moreira de Melo and Jake Cody. The Englishman, playing his first EPT since becoming a father, ran queens into tens on the turn of a ten-high board.
This time last year, it was Dan Smith who led at the end of Day 1a, but the American was one of the first casualties this year. He was a victim of a tough table featuring PLAYER="haralabos-voulgaris"]Haralabos Voulgaris[/PLAYER], Mike Watson and Bryn Kenney. Other casualties included the World Series of Poker Europe Main Event winner Adrian Mateos Diaz, Erik Seidel, Martin Jacobson, Max Silver, Maria Ho, Ami Barer as well as PokerStars Team Online's Isaac Haxton.
Paul Newey, Patrik Antonius and Ping San Chan, each of whom had played the Super High Roller event, also took a shot at the Main Event on Saturday, but came up short.
Despite the mass numbers of big names that busted, there are still others that remain in the hunt. JC Alvarado has 145,000, while EPT Barcelona champion Tom Middleton will be back on Monday with 124,000. Other players still in include Mark Teltscher, Jonathan Karamalikis, Sorel Mizzi, Antonio Esfandiari, Dominik Nitsche, Mike McDonald and Stephen Chidwick.
Day 1b will start at 12 p.m. on Sunday when an even bigger field is expected the final event of Season 10. Tune in to PokerNews from noon local time as this tournament continues. Our team will bring you all the updates from the first riffle to the last river.