The festivities got started yesterday evening with a full VIP spread complete with fire-spinning entertainment, music, dinner and the obligatory open bar. Everyone was a little skeptical on the way there as the taxi driver took dimly-lit backstreets and alleyways in search of a supposedly upscale nightclub. The presence of dark figures huddled around fires burning in barrels along the way did nothing to bolster our confidence.
Scenes from the movie Hostel were racing through our minds and the specter of a grisly death in a dark German lane loomed before us as we made our way deeper into the night. Obviously our fears were laid to rest, so to speak, as we entered the club and were met by pretty Frauleins offering to take our coats and set us up with a hefty mug of Dortmunder Kronen Pils, the local beverage of choice.
The evening proceeded pretty much as planned with a few beers, followed by some entertainment, a few more beers followed by some dinner and a few more beers just for good measure. Hey, this is Germany!
Whether it was good foresight or just a lucky coincidence, the tournament didn't start until the civilized time of 3 p.m., giving everyone enough time to get a good night's sleep. Oh yeah, we're here to cover a poker tournament, I almost forgot.
The first Day 1 flight went smoothly enough for the players; I just wish I could say the same for the media. From the beginning of the day the wireless network set up for the plethora of bloggers, photographers, video crews and local media representatives proved troublesome to say the least. Cutting in and out for a few hours before dying completely, the techies from German Telecom informed us that the router was mortally wounded and would not survive the day.
Rumor had it that a weak signal could be found in the casino foyer and, being the consummate professionals that we are, we went to find it. There was indeed a signal to be found but unfortunately it was even weaker than we had feared. This network went in and out more than ... well, let's just say it wasn't a very good network.
Neverthess, it was going to take more than a sketchy network to stop us from doing our sworn duty of reporting on poker, so we struggled on. Close to 250 players began the day this afternoon and by the end there were only 59 who had survived the bloodbath.
The player of the day was Norway's Johnny Lodden. Finishing out the evening with over $100k, making him the decisive chip leader, Lodden put on a poker practicum even Doyle Brunson would be proud of. Some of the highlights include the cunning slow-play of a flopped set of aces and a massive all-in bluff. Both of these plays came within minutes of each other and were indeed a sight to behold.
The first hand started with a player in middle position raising to $2,500, with the blinds at $400/$800, and Johnny smooth-calling from the cut-off. The flop came A♦ 6♦ K♠ and both players checked. The turn was the 6♣, and after a check from his opponent, Lodden bet out $3,500. The call was made and another king hit the river. Another check to Johnny and this time a $12,000 bet from the Norwegian. Holding K♥ 6♥ for the full house, it was surprising to see the other player just call. Johnny shocked the table further though by turning over rockets for the higher boat.
The second feature-hand began with Johnny and another player seeing a flop of 3♣ 3♠ T♣ and Lodden checking to his opponent. The other player fired out a $5k bullet only to be min-check-raised to $10,000. His opponent wasn't having it, however, and popped in another $15k on top. Johnny thought for only a short time before doing him one better and pushing all-in.
The action was back on the original raiser and to everyone's surprise he laid it down. The only thing more surprising was Lodden's cards when he showed down the bluff - A♦ 5♦ for ace high!
Lodden has long been respected as a high-stakes, cash-game player online and actually holds the record for being involved in the largest pot in the history of Internet poker at around $460,000. Unfortunately for Johnny, he was on the losing end of that monster. Up until now he's been unable to secure any major live tournament wins, but if he keeps playing like he did today, he certainly has a shot here in Dortmund.
Day 1b is slated to get underway tomorrow at 3 p.m. local time when the other half of the field will compete for their seat on Day 2. As always, I implore you to tune into PokerListings.com for all the best in live tournament coverage. From the EPT3 German Open, this is Matt Showell.