The first of two starting days of the €1,100 Unibet Open Bucharest Main Event attracted a total field of 236 entries to put the tournament well on track to meet the guarantee of €500,000 and set a record for the tour.
So far, that stands at 460 entries back in Budapest 2010 when Anthon-Pieter Wink claimed the title and a payday of €172,500.
Registration closed at the start of level seven after the dinner break, and after 11 levels of 60 minutes each, only 63 hopefuls bagged up chips with Markus Heikkila in the lead with 322,000.
The Swede was among the biggest stacks for most of the last few levels and turned a full house in the last hands of the night with a pair of treys to get paid off by Vasile Paul Plastoi, who then himself doubled through Anton Haegglund and advanced with 190,000.
In second place after Day 1a is Heikkila's countryman Jakob Linden (287,000), while William Hens (285,000), Eli Heath (250,000), Aldo Monteleone (232,500), Gheorghe Caplescu (202,000) and Tristan Guiodo (178,500) all claimed big stacks as well.
Hens was at one point down to just 1,600, with two big blinds at the time, before turning on an incredible heater. Eduard Norel's pocket queens were no good against the turned set of jacks of Hens when the stacks went in and that pushed the Dutchman to third place.
Dan Murariu, who is one of just two players to already win two Unibet Open Main Events thus far, dominated the early stages and ultimately bagged up 160,000. The other two-time champion is Mateusz Mooolhuizen and the Dutchman will join the action on Day 1b.
Other notables that made it through Day 1a include Gordon Plomp (148,000), Ozgur Arda (110,000), 2016 Unibet Open Malta champion Martin Soukup (107,000), Luciana Manolea (100,000), Mate Mecs (84,500), Olof Haglund (63,500) and Dan Glimne (59,000).
Among those that took to the felt and busted were such familiar names as Alexander Staengle, Jasper Wetemans, Sam Grafton, Tudor Purice, Kevin Killeen, Boris Kuzmanovic, Dany Parlafes and 2015 Glasgow champion Daniel Chutrov. Gerret Van Lancker finished third at the 2016 Unibet Open in Malta and lost a flip with pocket sevens against ace-queen, an ace showed up on the river.
Live stream commentator David Vanderheyden, who won a package via Unibet, also joined the competition and busted on the feature table before taking over his usual duty until the end of the day.
At some point, all 39 tables in the ballroom of the JW Marriott Bucharest Grand Hotel were in use at the same time with cash games and a €115 Rebuy Satellite for Day 1b running. The latter saw a massive 311 entries and 27 tickets in total for the second flight as of 12 p.m. local time on Friday.
Another full house is expected when the cards go back in the air. Make sure to tune back in and follow the PokerNews live updates until a winner is crowned on Sunday.
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