The first day of the Live Events International Main Event on the beautiful island of Cyprus saw the tournament room of the luxurious Noah's Ark resort buzz with an electric poker atmosphere. A total of 172 entries were made into the $1,500 Main Event, and 81 players made it through the day.
Nine 45-minute levels were played under the supervision of Thomas Kremser, one of the most accomplished and experienced tournament directors in the world. The tournament room was as convenient as the Rio's Amazon Room, and the atmosphere was as good as that of your local casino. The Live Events International organization had everything right here in Cyprus, with free drinks and food for the players, masseuses when needed, and experienced dealers to guarantee a smoothly-run tournament.
Russia made by far for the biggest contingent of players — combining the sunny mornings on the North Cypriotic island with some poker during the day was the move a lot of Russians made.
Amongst those in the field were some familiar faces. Unibet Open winner Dmitry Varlamov was one of them, but one bullet wouldn't be enough for him. He busted a little before the last break of the day when he ran his aces into quad jacks. On his second bullet, he wouldn't be more fortunate as he busted before the end of the day. We wouldn't be surprised if Varlamov would try again on Day 1b.
Alexander Lakhov, with well over $1.2 million in live tournament earnings and a fixture on the European circuit, made his appearance as well. He survived the day with a mere 4,000 in chips, the absolute shortest stack making it thorugh to Day 1b, but Lakhov will be looking for his 35th cash on Cypriotic soil. Unless he makes the comeback of the century, he might need a deep run in one of the side events to succeed in that goal.
Vladimir Troyanovskiy was another Russian native who we tried to keep track of on Day 1a. Troyanovskiy, maybe best known for his $25,000 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure High Roller runner-up finish to Vanessa Selbst in 2013, grinded his way up to well over 50,000, before eventually busting in one of the last hands of the day. With the tournament director announcing four more hands to be played for the day, Troyankovskiy gambled with to either bust and be able to play on Day 1b, or double up and have a fighting chance on Day 2. He busted with four hands to play to the jacks of an opponent.
There was just one lady in the field today, and that was Russia's Natalia Iakovleva, who played a hand she'll most likely not easily forget:
Iakovleva was all in preflop for her last 5,250, and she found not one, but many callers. In fact, four players made the call, causing Iakovleva to leave the table and watch from a far distance. The flop came down , and action checked to Ramon Rincon in last position. He bet 8,700, Andrey Golubev called, and then Sonarstev Vyacheskov raised all in for 20,000. The next player and Rincon folded, and then Golubev made the call.
This left Iakovleva, Vyacheskov, and Golubev as the three remaining players in the hand, and the cards were turned up for all to see. Iakovleva had the , Vyacheskov had the , and Golubev had the . The turn was the , and the river completed the board with the . Iakovleva had made a full house and quintupled her stack, while Vyacheskov more than doubled his.
Iakovleva continued from there and finished the day with 33,600 in chips.
It wasn't solely Russian players coming to North Cyprus to play some cards, though. Bulgarian Atanas Gueorguiev was playing, as was Ukrainian European Poker Tour Vienna champion Oleksii Khoroshenin. Guerguiev wouldn't last nine levels, as he busted his second bullet in the eighth level of the day, and Khoroshenin did much better. He ran his stack up to the chip lead at one point, and we spoke to him when he was done packing his bag of chips for the day.
Khoroshenin told us he got kind of lucky in a big hand to double up. He had three-bet a 1,600-chip open to 3,600 with the . His opponent had made the call and appeared on the flop. Khoroshenin bet 4,500 and saw his opponent raise to 12,000. Khoroshenin pushed all in and received a call. Khoroshenin's queen-high flush draw wasn't any good as his opponent tabled the , but a on the turn was great for the EPT Vienna winner, though. The on the river was a blank, and Khoroshenin scooped the pot.
Not much later, Khoroshenin would double up again through the same player. His opponent opened the cutoff seat and Khoroshenin three-bet to 4,600 holding the Khoroshenin. His opponent made the call and then called Khoroshenin's 5,000-chip bet on the flop. Khoroshenin continued for 17,000 when he made trips after the came on the turn. His opponent called, and the river was the , completing a backdoor flush. Khoroshenin pushed all in for about 30,000, and his opponent made the call, but mucked after Khoroshenin showed his full house.
Finishing with 167,400, Khoroshenin was just shy 4,100 for the chip lead of the day, an honor that goes to Viacheslav Igin after gathering up 171,500.
Players who played Day 1a and busted are able to play on Day 1b. Again on Day 1b, players will play nine 45-minute levels, and will be able to reenter the entire day. The tournament will start play at 1 p.m. local time, and that's more than enough time to enjoy the sun, pool, and beach in the morning.