The first of three flights in the World Poker Tour National UK London Main Event kicked off on Thursday evening with 193 players paying the £200 buy-in to get the accumulator tournament off to a flying start.
Eight 40-minute levels were played and during that time 99 players busted out and will have to buy into Friday's flights if they want to follow in the footsteps of John Ventre, Gabriel Tuna and Laurence Houghton in becoming a champion of this exciting event.
Doing his changes of glory no harm at all was Lucio Pacifico who finished the night with 104,000 chips and the title of chip leader. Pacifico was the only player to bag up a six-figure stack, although Vasile Stancu (93,700) and Erion Tota (92,000) were only a few chips of joining Pacifico in the 100,000 chip club.
Despite the relatively low buy-in, a host of established professional players headed to Aspers casino at the Westfield Stratford City on a cold Thursday night.
JJ Hazan is often found playing cash games at Aspers and swapped to tournament chips with ease, ending flight one with 78,800. Tamer Kamel may be more at home in €5,000 European Poker Tour events but showed his ability to adapt to any situation to finish the night with 55,900.
Other notables to progress include Germany's Alexander Jager (45,700), British legend Surinder Sunar (42,300), partypoker regular Gareth “gazthehippy” Smirthwaite (37,600), former champion Gabriel Tuna (29,100), James Greenwood (19,100) and the nano-stacked Tristan Chaplin (1,900).
WPT National UK London Flight 1 Top 10 Chip Counts
The first flight wasn't as kind to some big names and they will have to take a second – and possibly third – bite of the cherry on Friday.
Alex Bounsall, Angelo Milioto, GUKPT Walsall champion Ben Winsor, Haresh Thaker, former World Series of Poker Main Event finalist James Akenhead, and Leon Campbell, each busted before the completion of eight levels.
Flight 2 commences at 2:00 p.m on Friday afternoon with Flight 3, the final flight, at 8:00 p.m. The Aspers poker manager expects a big crowd for the second flight and an even larger one for the finale. WPT Caribbean champion Tony Dunst is confirmed to play and we'd expect all of the bustees and more to buy into both of Friday's starting flights.
Will the tournament surpass the 763 entrants from when Houghton won? Follow the live updates on UK & Ireland PokerNews to find out.