Day 1b of the European Poker Tour Malta Main Event attracted 460 players to the Portamaso Casino, which along with Day 1a's 184 runners brings the current total to 644. However, that number is sure to go up some as late registration is open until the start of Day 2.
After eight 75-minute levels of play, 277 players remained with Poland's Jaroslaw Sikora (153,700) and France's Ludovic Riehl (150,000) leading the way. Others who bagged big stacks were Jens Lakemeier (138,000), Faraz Jaka (120,900), and Ari Engel (109,000), just to name a few.
Speaking of Jaka, he won an particularly interesting hand in the last level of the night. It was one worth a massive 96,500, and he won it at showdown without so much as a pair. You can read more about that hand by clicking here.
Top 10 Day 1b Chip Counts
Last season, France's Jean Montury made history by becoming the first-ever EPT Malta champ, a feat he accomplished after topping a field of 895 players – which created a €4,340,750 prize pool – to take home a €687,400 first-place prize along with a SLYDE championship watch.
Montury was in action on Day 1b, but his title defense came to an abrupt end shortly after returning from dinner. His demise came after Mamouni Smain opened for 1,200 and then called when the defending champ three-bet to 3,600. Smain proceeded to check-call a bet of 3,600 on the two-heart flop, and then checked the non-heart turn. Montury bet 7,200, Smain check-raised all in, and Montury called off his remaining 3,000 or so.
The river was a blank, meaning Smain's flopped set help to send Montury to the rail where he joined the likes of Luca Pagano, who was the first player eliminated on Day 1b; EPT8 London champ Benny Spindler; EPT first-timer Doug Lee; 2011 World Series of Poker runner-up Martin Staszko; and Team PokerStars' Fatima Moreira de Melo, Pier Paolo Fabretti, Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier, and Andre Akkari.
Akkari actually fell in Level 4 (100/200/25) when he opened with a raise and Engel three-bet holding . Akkari ripped 35 bigs with , Engel called, and the board ran out clean. With that, Akkari was eliminated from the EPT12 Malta Main Event while Engel jumped out to the early chip lead.
Others who advance from the Day 1b field include three-time WSOP bracelet winner Dominik Nitsche (98,000); Mike "Timex" McDonald (88,900), who was fresh off his win in the EPT12 Malta €25,000 High Roller; WSOP APAC champ Scott Davies (36,000); newly minted WSOP Europe champ Kevin MacPhee (27,200); and Team PokerStars Pros Johnny Lodden (87,200), Marcin Horecki (76,500), Mickey Petersen (43,700), Matthias De Meulder (21,000), and Liv Boeree (16,900).
Day 2 is set to kick off at Noon local time on Tuesday with the plan to play six more levels. Of course the PokerNews Live Reporting Team will be on hand to capture all the action, so be sure to tune in then. While you wait, check out video of Sarah Herring's four-wheel Malta adventure: