The first of two starting days for the 2016 PokerStars and Monte-Carlo® Casino EPT Grand Final €5,300 Main Event attracted a field of 286 entries. Eight levels of 75 minutes each were played on Day 1a and 152 participants bagged up chips with the hopes of etching their name in the poker history books.
Defending champion Adrian Mateos was not in today's field, and the early attention belonged to Ronaldo. The former international football star lasted less than one level and was the first player on the rail. EPT Grand Final champion Ivan Freitez, from Season 7, followed next after getting his stack in with ace-ten suited against the ace-king of EPT Season 10 Grand Final champion Antonio Buonanno. The Italian made it through to Day 2 with 70,000 in chips.
Also among those to bust early on were also Rasmus Agerskov, Daniel Pidun, Dan Shak, Oleksii Kolvalchuk, and Huy Pham. Agerskov made a straight and ran into the flush of Steven van Zadelhoff. Pidun walked with kings into aces, and Shak failed to get there with ace-king suited against pocket kings. Pham flopped top set in a multi-way pot, but Sarah Herzali turned a set and rivered quads.
Other casualties included Anthony Zinno, Steve O'Dwyer, Sean Winter, Marvin Rettenmaier, Mike McDonald, Vladimir Troyanovskiy, and Mohsin Charania. Charania flopped the nut flush in a six-way pot with another playing holding the second nut flush, but they were both sent to the rail by Patricio Rojas Parra's pocket tens that made quads on the river.
It was Ukraine's Roman Verenko who bagged up the most chips by some margin with 198,800. His two biggest pots came off the eliminations of Nick Petrangelo and Sergio Castelluccio. Petrangelo put his hopes on king-jack suited and a flopped flush draw, but the top set of Verenko held. The Ukrainian then turned the nut straight to better Castelluccio's set of aces.
Other Day 1a big stacks included Govert Metaal (171,200), Paolo Compagno (170,500), the aforementioned Rojas Parra (167,100), Thi Xoa Nguyen (148,000), Anthony Spinella (129,400), and Roman Korenev (125,300).
Additionally, three PokerStars Team Pros participated and all of them made it through: Jake Cody (114,300), Jason Mercier (55,700), and Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier (29,500).
Former PokerStars Caribbean Adventure champion John Gale (99,100), Isaac Haxton (97,000), Max Silver (96,000), Faraz Jaka (95,100), van Zadelhoff (85,000), and Justin Bonomo (72,600) also advanced with above-average stacks.
Sunday will see Day 1b at 12 p.m. local time, and the €50,000 Single-Day High Roller will get underway half an hour later. The PokerNews Live Reporting team will be on hand to bring you updates from both events, so make sure to tune back in regularly to find out what is happening from the high-stakes action on the French Riviera.