On Day 1b of the 2012 PokerStars.fr European Poker Tour Deauville Main Event, 550 players turned out, meaning the total number of entrants was just two fewer than the record 891 who came to play last year.
Once registration closed and the final numbers were released, the news came down that 889 players had signed up for this incarnation of EPT Deauville, creating a €4,267,200 prize pool that will pay 128 spots with €875,000 reserved for first — just €5,000 less than Lucien Cohen's take from 2011.
The Day 1b field was heavily French but still featured some of the biggest stars in the game. 1998 WSOP Main Event champ Scotty Nguyen turned up, as did Cohen and a host of Team PokerStars Pros, including Viktor "Isildur1" Blom, Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier, Liv Boeree, Vanessa Rousso, Eugene Katchalov and more.
But as the masses fell by the wayside, leaving 325 survivors, the day truly belonged to Frenchman Amir Salhani, who grabbed the top spot late and held on heading into Thursday's Day 2 with 191,100 in chips and the overall chip lead.
Cohen was eliminated in the final 15 minutes of the day, ensuring there will be a new champion this year as the likes Blom, Katchalov, Vanessa Selbst, Dario Minieri, Fabrice Soulier, and Jude Ainsworth joined him on the rail.
Several notables will go on to Day 2 from the Day 1b group, however, including Rousso, Shannon Shorr, Ari Engel, Nacho Barbero, Ludovic Lacay and Team PokerStars SportsStar and Olympic gold medalist Fatima Moreira de Melo.
Adding the Day 1b survivors to the 221 through from Day 1a means 546 players will begin play at 1200 CET (0300 PST) in Deauville on Thursday.