James Mitchell (pictured, center) finished top of the chip counts on Day 1b here at the 888live London Poker Festival as the £100,000 guaranteed opening event almost broke through the guarantee with a day to spare. 41 players survived to make Day 2 after some fantastic poker along the way.
With 275 entries meaning 451 overall, tomorrow's final Day 1 flight of Day 1c looks set to bring the prize-pool nearer the £150,000 mark. British pro and former Irish Open winner James Mitchell ended the night on 512,000 chips to reign supreme, a full 100,000 clear of Mihai Pop in second overall. Both players are still behind Graham Hawkes (515,000) and overall chip leader Arron Fletcher (535,000) from Day 1a.
Mihai Pop is still on top, as he seems destined to make Day in rude health, chips-wise. The monotone mauler has been silent but deadly all evening long and just won a cooler of a hand to leapfrog James Mitchell at the top of the leaderboard.
While James Mitchell accrued his chip lead courtesy of a series of smaller, less newsworthy pots, Mihai Pop had one big win to propel him up the leaderboard. Reaching the turn with , Pop called the all-in move of his opponent on a board showing and was behind to pocket fours, but an ace on the river gave him a massive 300,000-chip pot and he never looked back.
While many players made it through to Day 2 with great chip-stacks, such as Artan Dedusha (343,000), Lofti Boughanmi (229,500) and Parvez Ahmed (161,000), others were eliminated before the final 13th level. Late in the day, we lost Aspers regulars Anthony Hardy and Vinnie Anderson, the latter after surviving several levels at ten big blinds or lower.
Shane Rouine seemed destined to double his way back into contention, but couldn't get any value from and soon ran out of cards thereafter to bust late on.
Raheem Tadj-Saadat led the field halfway through the flight, after bullying his way to victory with against two players pre-flop. the opponent who called did so with and the one who folded ditched pocket tens....and would have made quads by the river.
"Why didn't you call?" was Tadj-Saadat's tongue-in-cheek question, but the last laugh was not to be his as he failed to make the overnight chip counts.
Players will have one final chance from 2.00pm GMT on Saturday as flight 1c takes place a little earlier than on Thursday and Friday. With the 888Live Poker Room full to bursting on Friday, we can only expect the same tomorrow. Whoever survives as chip leader in the room may well lead the way into Day 2. Follow along with the 888live London Poker Festival in the live reporting section.
Be sure to complete your PokerNews experience by checking out an overview of our mobile and tablet apps here. Stay on top of the poker world from your phone with our mobile iOS and Android app, or fire up our iPad app on your tablet. You can also update your own chip counts from poker tournaments around the world with MyStack on both Android and iOS.