The PokerStars EPT Malta €25,750 Super High Roller kicked off with just two tables in play, but that changed soon enough. The first players were actually not the usual suspects. In fact, the group that sat down mostly consisted of qualifiers and players buying and just about all of them didn't consider the high rollers their bread and butter.
The not so regular crowd attracted the high roller rounders, and before we knew it, the designated area of the tournament area was getting packed. In total 44 unique players showed up, 16 of them made use of the option to buy back in once after busting, making for 60 entries total. With registration open till the start of Day 2, that number might still grow a bit.
Twenty-seven players survived the day with Patrick Leonard leading the way after 10 levels of play:
|Patrick Leonard||United Kingdom||260,000|
|Scott Seiver||United States||194,700|
|David Yan||New Zealand||146,700|
|Max Silver||United Kingdom||131,500|
|Ben Heath||United Kingdom||113,800|
|Dan Shak||United States||83,300|
|Nick Petrangelo||United States||43,000|
|Stephen Chidwick||United Kingdom||41,900|
|Charlie Carrel||United Kingdom||36,900|
Ali Reza Fatehi was the first to bust. He was already a bit short when he got it in with two-pair against the over pair of Martin Finger. Finger hit his set on the turn which left Fatehi drawing dead.
Scott Seiver skyrocketed his stack right after sitting down. He got aces and won a sizable pot. On top of that, he got the bonus of seeing two of his feared opponents get reseated to a different table. He got his 50,000-starting stack up to more than double that before some trouble set in. Seiver faced his neighbor Max Silver in a four-bet pot and moved all in on a five-high flop.
"Too gross!" said Silver.
"Aces versus kings usually is," replied Seiver.
Silver wasn't so convinced it was aces versus kings partly because he had inside knowledge that at least one of the holding wasn't aces or kings, but mostly because he didn't trust Seiver. In the end, Silver made the big call with pocket tens and his read was right; Seiver turned over nines. The tens held up and Silver catapulted his stack while Seiver's trickled down.
The hand that got the most attention from the players and the scarce railbirds watching the tournament was one where Connor Drinan acted out of turn twice in the same hand. First, he checked blind on the flop while being in position, then he announced all in before the river while still not being first to act. Drinan was clearly messing around a bit the first time, but the second time was a bit more confusing.
Big blind David Yan, Drinan's opponent in the hand, wasn't sure what to think of it all at first, but in the end made the call for a ton of chips with second pair on an ace-high board. Drinan, it turned out, had not improved his bottom pair with flush draw and left the tournament area, granting Yan one of the bigger stacks in the room. Drinan bought back in but busted again soon after, missing with a double gutshot against the nut flush draw of Max Silver.
EPT Vienna champ Oleksii Khoroshenin qualified the night before and had an extremely successful day. He stayed under the radar for a bit before knocking out three opponents to grab the lead with only a couple of hands to go for the day. He busted Laszlo Bujtas with set over set, eliminated Juha Helppi with a set of jacks versus top pair and top kicker, and in one of the last hands of the day, sent Behzad Ahadpour home winning the race with eights versus queen-jack. Khoroshenin ended the day with 256,000 in chips.
Despite gathering a massive amount of chips, Khoroshenin is still trailing chip leader Patrick Leonard. The Brit eliminated Jean-Noel Thorel in a rather big pot with jacks against the check-raised bluff with ace-nine of the Frenchman. Leonard returns tomorrow with a massive 260,000 in chips, just slightly ahead of Khoroshenin.
The remaining 27 players return to Casino Portomaso on Saturday at 12:30 p.m. for Day 2 of the PokerStars EPT Malta €25,750 High Roller tournament. The first level on the schedule is Level 11 (1,000/2,000 with a 300 ante). The plan is to play down to six players remaining, who'll play for the big bucks at the live streamed final table on Oct. 23.
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