The tournament was supposed to be Becker's coming-out party, being held as it is on his home turf in Germany and providing the best possible means of answering the question media and fans alike have been asking ever since Ben Grundy (aka The Dorian Gray of Poker) and last year's champ, Andreas Hoivold.
Also reported to be in attendance was one Daniel Negreanu, but observers could be forgiven for starting to wonder if Kid Poker had gone the way of the Becker as Negreanu played the tournament Hellmuth-style, arriving a level late to the proceedings and immediately losing the first three hands he played. As is his custom, Negreanu was a media darling throughout the day, attracting plenty of flashbulbs with every pot he played and showing off his German vocabulary when betting, calling and flirting good-naturedly with the dealers.
Meanwhile, poker was in fact being played, particularly on table 14 where Bertrand Grospellier and Marcel Luske found themselves seated side by side. The Flying Dutchman and the man they call "ElkY" would wage war throughout the day, with Grospellier taking the initiative throughout and building up a substantial stack through relentless aggression, while Luske contented himself with playing a tighter style and doubling through his French counterpart every now and then to stay liquid.
In one such hand, Grospellier raised from the cut-off and Luske, apparently not feeling his tablemate's rampant LAG-iness, called blind on the button. The flop came 9-6-5 and Grospellier fired out a continuation bet of about $1,500. Luske finally looked at his cards and moved all-in over the top for $17,000, gobsmacking young ElkY, who nonetheless made the call. Grospellier had pocket tens while Luske tabled 9-5 off-suit, and after the board bricked out Luske had taken a sizable chunk of the former Starcraft icon's stack.
That hand would be the turning point in Grospellier's fortunes. Moved to another table late in the day, ElkY would be crippled after seeing his set cracked by an opponent's flush and then busted on the day's penultimate level after shoving with A♣ T♦ against an opponent's pocket jacks. The flop was a heartbreaker, coming (in order) A♥ T♠ J♠, and after the board wound down 6♥ 9♦ ElkY was EliMinAteD.
Elsewhere, team PokerStars pro Luca Pagano would get his personal Sicilian message after getting all-in on an 8-3-x while wielding the octocrab (8-3) for two pair: he ran into an opponent with pocket eights. The board could bring no miracle to the Italian, who was out early in the third level of play.
Meanwhile, Ram Vaswani had a roller-coaster day, seeing his stack stock fluctuate throughout the proceedings and reaching a high-water mark at around $35,000 after calling an opponent's all-in on a K-K-10-9 board with A-K against his rival's Q-J. The situation looked grim for the Crazy Horse, but after the river brought the case king Vaswani had hit quads (KWAAAAAADS!!!!!11) and his opponent hit the rail.
The day would not end well - or particularly late - for the Hendon Mobster, however, as he bustified after betting hard on all streets of an A♠ Q♥ 2♥ 8♦ 5♠ board, getting all-in on the river but finding himself unable to beat his opponent's Q♦ 9♦ for second pair at showdown.
Vaswani, Pagano and Grospellier would be joined at the rail by George Danzer, Peter Gould, Joe Elpayaa and, late in the festivities, defending champ Andreas Hoivold, who got all-in pre-flop with Nicolas Levi, kings against A-Q, and could only watch as his French rival parlayed his one overcard into quads for a resounding victory.
By day's end, approximately 84 players had survived the eight levels of madness and will combine with Day 1a's 71 survivors to create one uber-field tomorrow. The EPT won't be providing chip counts until noon tomorrow, so check back then for the full list. We'll play another eight levels on Day 2 beginning at 3 p.m. local time (9 a.m. EST) and PokerListings.com will once again be on the scene subsisting solely on Corny Big bars in our undying effort to bring you the very best of German poker. Auf wiedersehen!
Live updates available, as always, right here.