Apparently they like poker in Italy. A lot.
With 333 players starting the day we've heard estimates that would see nearly 700 players take part in the EPT's first foray into Italy. Not including the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure (which is tough to include in a European-based series of poker tournaments anyway), this is the biggest event we've had yet on the EPT's fourth season.
A plethora of poker talent was in the thick of the action today. Players like Patrik Antonius, Liz Lieu, Sorel Mizzi, Julian Thew, Dario Minieri, Raymond Rahme, Dario Alioto, Peter Jepsen, Rolf Slotboom, Roland de Wolfe, Luca Pagano, Katja Thater, Thor Hansen, Markus Golser and Tom McEvoy crowded the halls of the Casino San Remo.
Surprisingly some of the game's best players were eliminated in the first few levels. Jepsen ran queens into pocket kings, Thew ran his pocket aces into a set of sixes and PokerStars pro Katja Thater hit the rail when her pocket tens failed against pocket kings. Antonius, well, he pretty much bluffed himself out of the tournament.
In the hand Antonius, whom some like to call The Black Lotus, saw a board of 9♠ 9♥ 7♠ 6♣ against two other players. The river was checked to Antonius and he decided to make a stab at the large pot by betting $9,000 with K♦ 7♦. One of the players took the bait and mucked his hand but the other player held J♥ 9♦ for trips and felt he had to make the call. That was it for Antonius, who is likely on a chartered plane this very moment flying somewhere sweet.
Resident PokerListings blogger and poker diva Lieu was getting some cards and making moves throughout most of the day. Lieu got A♦ A♠ and was actually paid off when an opponent ran his J♥ J♣ into the pocket rockets.
The Hendon Mob's Roland de Wolfe had a fairly positive day that saw his chip stack bounce up and down like a tennis ball. De Wolfe won an important hand where he eliminated a player with A♠ T♠ versus K♥ T♣, and in another huge hand he paid off a player who hit a full house on a J♥ J♦ 8♥ 7♥ A♦ board.
The Wolfe is hungry and looking to add another EPT title to his resume.
During the later stages of the tournament we here at PokerListings saw something we'd never seen before (and believe me, kids, we've seen it all). Over at table 17 there was a player watching the classic poker flick Rounders on his iPod Nano.
The same player was later heard shouting "Don't splash the pot!" and gave his tablemates some advice by saying, "Here's the deal - if you can't spot the sucker at a poker table, you are the sucker." (OK, we're joking about that part, but he seriously was watching Rounders on the one-inch screen of his iPod Nano).
As Day 1a drew to a close the field was narrowed to 99 players. It was an impressive feat going from 333 to The Great One's lucky number. That meant there'd been an incredible 234 eliminations in just nine hours of play.
Finland's Ville Nyman ended the day with the chip lead of $107,000. Other notables include EPT Prague final-table finisher Dag Palovic with $59,200, Mark Teltscher with $50,000, Raymond Rahme with $43,000 and Roland de Wolfe with $39,800.
Join us tomorrow as we see more epic action from the EPT's first-ever stop in Italy.