After a successful stop in Season 11, the European Poker Tour was back at the Mediterranean island of Malta for a 76-event series hosted in conjunction with the Italian Poker Tour.
"We’re thrilled to be heading back to Malta for the second time this year," said Edgar Stuchly, PokerStars Director of Live Events. "The debut EPT here in March was a big success and our players relished the opportunity to experience high quality poker in a great tourist location. We have a great tournament schedule planned, as well as a fantastic cash game offering, so it’s truly appealing for every kind of player."
On Friday, Day 1 of the €25,000 High Roller kicked off inside Portomaso Casino. The tournament saw 57 unique players take to the felt and account for 10 reentires, which brought the total field to 67. That's down a bit from last season's field of 88 entrants (Dzmitry Urbanovich won that event for €572,300), but registration is open until the start of Day 2, meaning there's a strong chance it'll go up.
After eight one-hours levels, approximately 50 players bagged and tagged with China's Quan Zhou and his stack of 952,000 leading the way.
Top 10 Day 1 Chip Counts
In Level 7 (2,000/4,000/500), in a blind-versus-blind hand, Mike "Timex" McDonald and Zhou each invested 26,000 from the small and big blind respectively. The flop saw McDonald check-call a bet of 32,000, and then he check-called one of 46,000 on the turn.
When the completed the board on the river, both players checked and McDonald tabled the . It was no good though as Zhou had him out kicked with the .
"River nine," Zhou joked.
"You probably win all my chips," McDonald said with a laugh.
Of course not everyone was as fortunate as Zhou. Martin Finger, who won the EPT12 Barcelona High Roller a few months back, was the first to go, which happened after Anton Astapau opened for 2,400 from the hijack and four players called to see a flop of . Action checked to Astapau, who bet 5,600, and Smain Mamouni called before Brian Roberts squeezed from the button for 28,000.
Finger cold-called from the small blind, and all other players folded to make it heads-up action to the turn. Finger checked, Roberts bet 55,000, and Finger shoved. Roberts called and Finger discovered the bad news.
It was a brutal set over set, and Finger was drawing to one out. The river wasn't it, and Finger hit the rail. He soon exercised his single reentry option, but it did him little good as he was eliminated for a second time in Level 6.
Others who fell on Day 1 were Rasmus Vogt, Berthold Winz, Yingui Li, Mohsin Charania, Justin Liberto, and Patrik Antonius. All of those players will have the opportunity to reenter on Day 2 if they choose, but one man who will not is Scott Seiver, who exhausted his single reentry.
Among those who will be back are recent World Series of Poker Europe bracelet winner Dietrich Fast (931,000); Germans Christopher Frank (704,000) and Marvin Rettenmaier (670,000); last year's runner-up Connor Drinan (510,000); EPT11 Grand Final High Roller victor Charlie Carrel (453,500); EPT11 Grand Final champ Adrian Mateos (352,000); and reigning World Poker Tour Player of the Year Anthony Zinno (305,000).
Day 2 will kick off at 12:30 p.m. local time on Saturday. As always, the PokerNews Live Reporting Team will be on hand to capture all the action, which you can read about in our live blog. Until then, check out PokerStars' premiere of live Spin & Go's at the EPT12 Malta: