It was a big day of action for the European Poker Tour Malta as the €25K High Roller played down to a champion – which you can read about by clicking here – and the €5,300 Main Event kicked off inside the Portomaso Casino.
Regarding the latter, the first of two starting flights attracted 184 runners, and while that number may not have been overly impressive, the quality of the field was as some of the biggest names in the game took their shot on Day 1a. That's due in no small part to the single-day €10K High Roller scheduled to run at the same time as Day 1b.
After eight 75-minute levels of play, 108 players remained with Italy's Carmelo Crucitti and his stack of 163,000 leading the way. Others who bagged big stacks were Mikko Turtiainen (136,400), Noah Vaillancourt (125,800), and Ferdinand Le Pichon (117,500).
Top 10 Day 1a Chip Counts
|5||Ferdinand Le Pichon||117,500|
|7||Patrick Roger Jann||102,200|
As for Vaillancourt, he had the distinction of busting accomplished pro Connor Drinan. It happened in Level 6 (200/400/50) when Drinan raised to 1,000 from the hijack and Vaillancourt just flat-called.
On the flop, Drinan continued for 1,600 and was called before the on the turn saw another barrel worth 4,100. Again Vaillancourt just called and an completed the board on the river. Drinan fired 8,400 and then called off his stack only to muck once Vaillancourt turned over pocket queens for a set.
Long before that, in the first level in fact, is when the first elimination occurred. It happened after a player opened for 300 and Michael Wang called from the button. The player in the small blind came along, and then Alessandro Barone three-bet to 1,300 from the big blind.
The original raiser folded, Wang called with the , and the small blind got out of the way to make it heads-up action to the flop. Barone led out for 3,000, Wang raised to 7,800, and Barone shipped all in with what turned out to be aces. Wang made the call and held as both the turn and river bricked.
With that, Barone became the first elimination of the tournament, while Wang nearly doubled his starting stack. Unfortunately for him, it did little good as he went on to bust in the penultimate level of the night.
Others who saw their journey cut short on Day 1a were Jonathan Roy, Stephen Chidwick, Fedor Holz, Shaun Deeb, Oleksii Khoroshenin, Marvin Rettenmaier, John Juanda, Martin Finger, Patrik Antonius, and Ole Schemion.
Schemion, who flew into Malta early in the afternoon, fell in Level 6 (200/400/50) when Johan Guilbert opened for 800 from the hijack and the German wunderkind called from the small blind. Bernhard Haider did the same from the big and three players took a flop of . Two checks saw Guilbert bet 1,600, and both his opponents called.
After the dealer burned and turned the , Schemion checked for a second time and Haider seized the initiative by betting 3,800. Guilbert called, and then Schemion sprung to life with an all-in check-raise to 11,625 total. Haider just called, which prompted Guilbert to ditch his hand.
Schemion had flopped the straight, but he was drawing dead as Haider turned a flush. The meaningless was put out on the river to make it official, and Schemion wished the table luck before heading to the exit.
While droves of notables fell, plenty punched their ticket to Day 2 including David Yan (97,875), Thomas Muehloecker (93,200), Niall Farrell (92,300), Steve O'Dwyer (90,600), Dominik Panka (81,400), Anthony Zinno (76,500), Adrian Mateos (72,200), and PokerStars' Jennifer Shahade (51,300), Ike Haxton (23,500), Jason Mercier (14,700), and Jake Cody (8,600). Meanwhile, Team PokerStars Pro Ivan Demidov met his demise on Day 1a.
Day 1b will kick off at Noon local time on Monday, while the aforementioned €10K Single-Day High Roller will follow a half hour later. Of course the PokerNews Live Reporting Team will be on hand for both to bring you all the latest and greatest from the floor of the Portomaso Casino.
While you wait, take a tour of St. Julian's here in Malta: