Day 1a of this five-day event kicked off on Tuesday afternoon in the Polish capital, with a first flight of 190 players ponying up the 20,000 Polish zloty (PLN, approximately €5,750) and playing their first eight levels in hopes of winding up the new Peter Jepsen (Frieda not included) by Saturday.
Jepsen, now a Full Tilt Poker red pro, earned the biggest win of his poker career with a first-place finish in Warsaw last March at the inaugural EPT Polish Open, taking down 1,266,712 PLN ($423,323 USD) after defeating a field of 284 contestants to claim Dungeon Master status.
Jepsen was present and accounted for on Day 1a of this year's extravaganza, intent on defending his title but facing a haffa-field that included the likes of EPT4 Baden champ Julian Thew, EPT4 Barcelona champ Sander Lylloff, Team PokerStars pros Katja Thater and Dario Minieri, Gino "Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places" Alacqua, Christiano Blanco, Trond Eidsvig, Ramzi Jelassi, 2006 Caribbean Poker Classic champ Fredrick Haugen, Mats Rahmn, Magnus Petersson, Jani Sointula, Johan Storakers, EPT4 Dortmund maniac Johannes Strassman and EPT hostess Kara Scott amongst the card-carrying Eurodonks.
As it turned out, Jepsen would not be long in defending his crown. The Danish pro and Iraq war veteran found himself at a table with Minieri and English pro Dan Carter and even with the help of a soothing massage from bodacious girlfriend Frieda could not find the motivation to avoid chronic loose-passive play and a subsequent early elimination.
Also feeling the pinch early was Julian Thew, who arrived looking plain exhausted and soon saw his stack dwindle to a low-water mark of $600 of a starting $10,000 stack. The likable Englishman is something of a roller-coaster at the tables, however, and had soon negotiated the flopping of a set of eights to precipitate a climb back up the chip leaderboard.
By the third level Thew had amassed a stack equal to that with which he'd started the day and after winning a race with pocket queens against an opponent with A♦ K♠ on a scary, scary board (K♣ 8♠ 2♠ Q♠ J♥), the pro was up to $20,000 and riding dirty.
Not quite so lucky was hostess Kara Scott. Her Canadian heritage wasn't enough for her to stick it out to the dinner break, even. Scott was rolling steady until she ran a pair of jacks into Gino Alacqua's pocket queens, losing the majority of her stack, and then got the last of it in on the button with A-9 and saw the small blind wake up to A-K. No miracle suck-out would save the presenter, who despite the early elimination is not likely to relinquish her reputation as a fierce poker player very easily.
Also eliminated in the early going were Jani Sointula and Joseph "Big Egypt" Elpayaa, the latter of whom succumbed to a table draw that included psychotic Strassmann and eventual eliminator Haugen. The CPC champ/chopper got the last of the American online pro's chips on a K-6-4-K flop when Elpayaa pushed with K-10 and saw Haugen turn up pocket fours for the boat. The river was a brickly jack and Big Egypt had a jump on the buffet line.
Then it was dinnertime and the field broke for 60 minutes. When they returned, EPT4 Barcelona champ (and Mark Teltscher BFF) Sander Lylloff was among the earliest to make a break for a second helping. Lylloff got all-in on the turn of a queen-high board with A-Q and saw himself up against kings for his tournament life. The river bricked out and Lylloff was history.
Next on the chopping block was one Dario Minieri, who'd weathered the same table that had claimed Peter Jepsen but who eventually succumbed after making a disastrous river bluff on an A-A-9-7-6 board, committing all of his chips to the middle but insta-mucking and insta-leaving after being called by an opponent with A-8 for the trips. Minieri's departure left Katja Thater as the only Team PokerStars members still standing.
Near the three-quarter mark of the day's play, Robert Fink would take a monster pot from Casey Kastle that would prove to be the defining hand of the day. Kastle had been cruising as chip leader for most of the day before getting all but $15,000 of his chips in the middle with jacks against Robert Fink's A-K. The board came A-A-4-Q-6 and Fink made trips to drag a $50,000 pot and vault up to chip leader status.
Fink would maintain throughout the proceedings, ending the day with roughly $110,000 to his name and staying atop the leaderboard as time expired. He winds up his Tuesday being pursued by the likes of Joe "Not Sebok" Serok and Victor Escudero in the runner-up positions and with about 78 people in total behind him, including Trond Eidsvig, Julian Thew, Johan Storakers, Dan Carter and Dan Ryan.
Those Day 1a survivors will get Wednesday off before returning to the felt on Thursday for Day 2 action. Meanwhile, tomorrow will see players like Greg Raymer, Mel Judah, Sorel Mizzi, Pascal Perrault and, ahem, Mark "The_Void's brother, maybe" Teltscher enter the dungeon for their own eight hours of hot pokering.
As usual, PokerListings.com will be on hand to fan the flames, so keep it tuned into the PL beginning at 2 p.m. local time (8 a.m. EDT) for continuing and comprehensive coverage of the Warsaw Uprising on the European Poker Tour.