The World Series of Poker Europe kicked off it's 2011 schedule with Event #1, the €2,500 Six-Handed No Limit Hold'em tournament. Day 1 was held in the Hotel Majestic Barriere and the 360-player field gave everyone a brief glimpse of how big this Series is going to be. It dwarfed the 244 players who entered this same tournament last year — a tournament won by Phil Laak.
Eight, 60-minute levels went through the clock and when it ended, over two-thirds of the field was gone. We had to wait until the penultimate hand of the evening to find out who the chip leader was, and what a fantastic French finale it turned out to be!
Benjamin Pollak is no stranger to being an end-of-day chip leader and he seemed to have done it again after eliminating fellow countryman Nicolas Levi. Levi began the action with a raise and Pollak called on the button with . The flop was and both players checked. The turn was the and once again both players checked. The final card was the and Levi checked, Pollak bet 3,000, Levi raised to 10,000, Pollak moved all-in and Levi called. Pollak turned over and Levi mucked his hand before heading out of the door.
The media were heralding Pollak as the Day 1 chip leader. The writing had stopped, laptops were packed away, players were leaving in droves but there were still two people playing. Flavien Guenan and Alessandro Speranza were staring at a board of . Neither player was aware that they were the only players left playing because they had the minds locked firmly on that flop. Guenan checked to Speranza who bet 3,800. Guenan made the quick call and the appeared on the turn. Guenan checked again and just like on the flop, Speranza decided to bet. This time the bet was 9,500 but that didn't scare Flavien who called once again.
The river was the and for the third time Guenan checked to Speranza who looked over at his opponents stack and decided to put him all-in. Guenan had 37,500 chips left behind, which was still more than the average stack, but within seconds he had made the call. Speranza flashed and mucked when Guenan turned over his . The pot turned Guenan into a hated man as the media had to pull their laptops out of their bags and start writing again — he had just taken the Day 1 chip lead from the fingertips of Pollak with 108,00 chips.
Other players finishing Day 1 with stacks to be reckoned with were Antonio Venneri (99,575), Casey Kastle (86,100), Peter Jetten (71,275) and Anton Wigg (67,075). A few more famous faces returning for Day 2 are Daniel Negreanu, Phil Hellmuth, Vanessa Selbst and John Racener.
Day 2 will resume at 1500 CET (0600 PDT) on Saturday at Le Croisette Casino Barriere.