Another day; another euro, or about €50 in the unbelievably expensive city of Monte Carlo (try $30 U.S. for the burger here at the Monte Carlo Bay Hotel and Casino).
However, things started out a little differently on the second Day 1. Not only did PL.com decide to take a pass on the overpriced and undercooked meat products, but the number of poker players and big-time poker pros was up considerably.
A total of 392 players jumped in the fray on Day 1a, but by the time registration had closed at the end of today's first level, a whopping 450 had paid up for a spot on the felt in Day 1b. What that all means is a total of 842 players in this incarnation of the European Poker Tour Grand Final - a record for the Grand Final, the EPT and poker on this side of the Atlantic.
Some sort of delay from the EPT staff meant they failed to announce the prize pool and payouts today, but our best attempt at math shows there's more than €8.4 million to split rather unevenly between those who do go deep.
While the first Day 1 was filled with some of the biggest names in poker on any side of any ocean, anywhere, today definitely topped it as the real PokerStars came out to shine.
The spectacle that is the EPT kicked off just 15 or 20 minutes late with a spectacularly edited video of play on the tour this year set to the booming bass of some trashy Euro-dance hit before the stage at the front of the room opened up revealing a poker table filled with Team PokerStars pros.
It was definitely the A-team on display as the likes of Joe Hachem, Daniel Negreanu, Bertrand Grospellier, Chris Moneymaker and Vanessa Rousso popped off the stage to take their seats before play began.
The newest addition to Team PokerStars also came down from above to grab his seat, but he didn't manage to stay in it very long. While a PokerStars Pro going broke in a tournament filled with them may not always make the big headlines, this man's exit meant we will be crowning a new EPT Grand Final champion in 2008. Season 3 Grand Final king Gavin Griffin got short early on before pricing himself into a hand with just Q-5 and failing to suck out against an opponent's big slick.
Regardless of the early end to his defense of his title, Griffin already cemented his status as one of the best young players in the game earlier this year with a World Poker Tour win, making him the only player to win the WPT, EPT and WSOP triple crown.
However, the same cannot be said for another Team PokerStars "pro" who, after some delay to the beginning of his poker career, finally joined in on the fun here in Monte Carlo. A few months back it was announced that six-time Grand Slam title winner and tennis legend Boris Becker had signed with the team. He was supposed to make his poker debut in his native Germany on the Dortmund leg of the tour, but for one reason or another, failed to make it to the EPT felt.
Well, he made it today, flanked by two security guards there to ensure no flashbulbs popped in the delicate superstar's face and that he wasn't crowded by the hordes of media anxious to see if he could actually play this grand game.
While PL.com and the rest of the Euro-hacks had to stand back to watch it all happen, we were treated to a rather hilarious example of how not to play Hold 'em. Boom-Boom limp-called and check-folded his way to a short stack before getting himself in a rather precarious position with just ace-high.
His true demise began when, for some reason or another, he called a $1,200 bet with A♣ 9♦ on a Q♣ 8♥ 8♣ 8♦ board with a player behind him. That player then made it $3,000 and while the first raiser wisely let his hand go, Becker called that bet as well, leaving him less than $2,000 behind.
When the river bricked, Becker's opponent bet enough to cover his stack and Boris made the donkey-call for his tournament life. If he thought his foe was bluffing he may have been right - he had just a pair of sixes in the hole - but ace-high doesn't beat even the smallest of boats... although no one can really be sure if Boris is aware of that or not.
What made the exit even uglier and perhaps even more hilarious, is that he knocked over a table of drinks as he stormed out of the tournament area. NH GG LMAO.
Saving the day for the home team here in Monte Carlo were the likes of "Kid Poker" Daniel Negreanu and the other newly minted PokerStar Chad Brown. These two rounders shared the felt today, but managed to stay out of each other's way enough to build stacks in the $35k range before play was through.
By the time it all came to an end we were left with approximately 225 players and they will join the 171 left from Day 1a to start play with the end of the seventh level at 1 p.m. Monte Carlo time. Unfortunately those EPT delays we spoke of earlier mean we will not have official chip counts and player counts until sometime Monday, but PL.com was on the scene and our best guess is that Frenchman Cyril Bensoussan and his $110,000 stack stole the day.
You can always check out our Live Tournaments Page for links to everything PL.com is up to here in Monte Carlo and all over this place we like to call Earth. If that doesn't satisfy you until our comprehensive coverage begins again Monday there's not much we can do because it's now officially Miller time in Monaco! Au revoir.