The day got off to a quick start with calls of "Seat open" coming from every direction. In just 60 minutes close to 50 players went broke.
One of the early casualties was Antonio Esfandiari. The Magician was making a rare appearance at an EPT event and members of the media were already curious if Esfandiari would have been able to wear all his WPT gear if he had made the final table of this event.
Although the question was intriguing it seems we will never know as Esfandiari became short-stacked and shoved with A-5 on an ace-high board, only to run into a set.
Another player to hit the rail early was charismatic Canadian Daniel Negreanu. Wherever Negreanu goes, the press seems to be drawn to him like a starved poker player to a free buffet. It's also been awhile since Negreanu's had a huge score, so many are starting to feel he's about due.
Negreanu entered Day 2 with a short stack of approximately $10,000 so he didn't exactly have a lot to work with. Despite getting extremely lucky with A-3 in a hand where he sucked out on a player with A-A, Negreanu couldn't fully right the ship. Negreanu called an all-in push with A-K on a queen-high board and it just so happened his opponent held a queen. Done and done.
On the flip side were Jan Heitmann and Eric Koskas. Both players entered the day with stacks that were around $100,000 and showed no signs of slowing down in the early stages. They quickly doubled their stacks and became the first $200,000 titans. Later in the day Heitmann began to slow down while Koskas shifted into overdrive but we'll talk more about that later.
One of the most unusual scenes of the day was Italian Sandra Bellusci and his tambourine. When Bellusci was all-in he enjoyed standing up and singing while playing his tambourine.
Needless to say this was distracting to some players, who were making decisions for their tournament lives, and organizers had to silence him on several occasions. All this from a guy who has a chip protector of a guy hugging a chili pepper. Pretty standard, really.
Rolande De Wolfe hit the rail during the middle portion of the day and he did it in a particularly nasty way. He was looking to double up with a QQ versus JJ and his opponent had the audacity to spoke a jack on the river.
"I know that card was coming," commented De Wolfe.
There's just no winning some days.
It was during this portion of the day the hand of the tournament, thus far, was played. Mads Wissing Anderson bet out $15,000 on a flop of A♠ 8♠ 4♠ and received calls from Eric Koskas and William Thorson. The turn came 3♠ and Anderson fired once again, this time pushing $35,000 into the pot.
Only Thorson made the call, and the river came K♦. It was yet again Anderson who was the aggressor and this time he risked his entire stack of approximately $120,000, putting Thorson to a huge test. In the end Thorson didn't feel he could make the call and he threw his hand into the muck. The kicker? Anderson flipped over 7♣ 6♣ for nothing but seven-high. Fortune favors the bold.
The bubble burst with little excitement and the 72 players who made it into the money seemed more concerned with getting deep in the tournament than earning a meager payout.
As the day wore on we witnessed the rise of Koskas. The French player soon found himself with an overwhelming stack and it was difficult to keep track of the number of players he knocked out of the tournament. Literally raising almost every pot, Koskas found no one who wanted to tangle with him and his massive stack of chips. Koskas' stack varied between $600,000 and $700,000; one has to wonder if anybody will be able to stop him.
One player who was not so fortunate was Liz Lieu. PokerListings' resident pro blogger and poker diva lost a couple pots where she was the favorite and was forced to push all-in with A-8. She ran into QQ and that was it for one of our favorite gals on the poker circuit.
The final couple levels saw the emergence of Italian poker god Mineri. Although Super Dario was down to approximately $100,000 after dinner, he quickly doubled up twice and found himself with a decent stack that totaled $400,000. On the last hand of the night Mineri won another important hand worth approximately $170,000, so he is going into Day 3 with some serious ammunition. The Italian crowd and PokerStars couldn't be happier.
Minieri didn't have the chip lead, however; that honor went to U.S. player Jason Mercier, who managed to grab $684,000 chips for himself.
Is Minieri destined for Italian greatness? Will Eric Koskas continue to crush his competition? Will Brunson play the ultimate spoiler and remind people who invented No-Limit Hold'em?
Tune in tomorrow at 3 p.m. to see who makes the final table of EPT San Remo.
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