Saturday was filled with great poker action at the 2015 PokerStars and Monte-Carlo® Casino European Poker Tour Grand Final, which saw the €100,000 Super High Roller play down to a winner, and the start of the cornerstone €10,600 Main Event.
Day 1a attracted 219 runners, which was a bit more than last year's 214 entries. After eight levels of play, the field was whittled down to 113 with Poland's Juan Carlos Garcia and his stack of 182,800 leading the way.
Others who advanced to Day 2 with healthy stacks were Joao Simao (179,100), Nicolas Chouity (168,200), Steven Zhou (158,000), and Roger Hairabedian (153,800).
Top 10 Day 1a Chip Counts
|1||Jose Carlos Garcia||182,800|
Garcia managed to get a good deal of his chips in the last level of the night. It happened in a four-bet pot after Garcia bet about half pot on a flop. Atanas Malinov called, and the peeled off on the turn. Garcia slowed down with a check, but then woke up with an all-in check-raise to around 120,000 total after Malinov had bet 24,000. Malinov seemed tortured by the decision and hit the tank hard. Eventually another player at the table called the clock, and Malinov let it expire before folding his hand.
"Show one, it's going to be on the news," Garcia was encouraged by Charlie Carrel. The youngster from Poland obliged and showed the . With that, Garcia took over the chip lead.
Long before that, the day kicked off with a bang when Dan Smith, who won three €5,000 side events at this very stop back in Season 8, was crippled in the first hand he played after running his top full house smack dab into queens. Smith was finished off a short time later, making him the first elimination of the EPT11 Grand Final Main Event.
Of course he had company before too long. Last year's €100,000 Super High Roller champ and reigning Big One for One Drop champ Daniel Colman made an early exit after calling off with kings only to be shown aces by Argentina's Ivan Luca, while the defending champ, Italy's Antonio Buonanno was bounced in Level 3 (100/200).
It happened on a flop when Buonanno, who was in the small blind, bet out 600 and Zhou raised to 1,700. Buonanno called, the appeared on the turn, and Buonanno checked to Zhou, who bet 2,725. A call was made, the river brought the , and once again Buonanno checked. Zhou bet enough to put Buonanno to the test, and the Italian thought long and hard. Eventually the clock was called and Buonanno committed. Zhou turned over the for a rivered full house, and Buonanno meekly turned over the for two pair before making his way to the exit.
Other who fell on Day 1a were Max Silver, Dani Stern, Anatoly FIlatov, Tobias Reinkemeier, Bryn Kenney, Justin Bonomo, Scott Seiver, Patrik Antonius, and Team PokerStars Pro George Danzer. The reigning World Series of Poker Player of the Year fell just before the dinner break when he got his stack all in on an flop holding the . Unfortunately for him, the UK's Victor Ilyukhin held the and hit his straight after the dealer burned and turned the .
While dozens fell, a multitude of notables survived the night including Ole Schemion (121,600), Steve O'Dwyer (109,000), Ivan Soshnikov (64,700), Dan Heimiller (53,200), Mike "Timex" McDonald (49,500), Martin Jacobson (42,000), and Team PokerStars Pros Andre Akkari (114,900), Eugene Katchalov (95,600), Jason Mercier (74,900) and Isaac Haxton (33,200).
On Sunday, a whole new flight of players will take to the felt to test their mettle in one of the most prestigious tournament of the year. Day 1b is always significantly bigger than the opening flight, so expect the field to swell, especially since late registration is open until the start of Day 2.
The plan for tomorrow is to play eight more 75-minute levels. The PokerNews Live Reporting Team will be there every step of the way to capture all the action in our live blog, so be sure to check back then.
While you wait, check out this video featuring Akkari talking about his recent Shark Cage experience: