Two hundred and seventy-two hopefuls descended on the basement of the plush Hilton Hotel Casino to try their luck, a welcome increase on the poor numerical showing the tour witnessed at EPT Warsaw.
The attraction of the town's much-vaunted beer, sparkling, fairytale nighttime vistas and well-proportioned, attractive women proved an irresistible lure to many, as we saw players from all over the globe make the trip to the Czech Republic to try their hand at securing prestigious EPT glory with all the accompanying fame and riches.
Two players of note who turned up for Day 1a were two of this season's winners, EPT Barcelona champ Sebastian Ruthenberg and the victor in this season's EPT London, Michael Martin. The two former champions were to experience vastly contrasting days.
Martin appeared to be climbing effortlessly through the field in the early stages but was undone as a series of coolers, including a cruel set-over-set affair, curtailed his progress before he finally succumbed in the middle stages.
Ruthenberg's fortunes panned out in diametrically opposite fashion as he built his stack steadily and surely throughout the day.
The EPT Barcelona champion will be well-placed with over $50k when the players resume arms for Day 2. If he is to win a record-breaking second EPT title, however, he will first have to contend with Frenchman Ludovic Lacay.
Lacay final-tabled in EPT Warsaw and although he started the day badly and at one point looked on the verge of joining the rail with only a very small stack to his name, he turned this round in dramatic fashion, continuing his recent astonishing form.
Ludovic didn't lose heart through his early troubles, and a series of double-ups including a key $50k flip with queens versus the big slick of fellow Frenchman Otto Richard saw him build a mighty stack toward the end of the day.
When he eventually polished off his compatriot, defeating the unfortunate Richard's pocket kings with his pocket aces in a frosty cold-deck situation, he looked well set for yet another deep EPT finish, his $94k good for the chip lead by the day's close.
His team Winamax colleague Arnaud Mattern had also final-tabled in EPT Warsaw and as last year's winner of the Czech EPT, he would have nursed ambitions of repeating that achievement.
Ultimately, however, he proved unable to emulate Lacay's ascent through the leaderboard as he crashed out in the middle stages when his semi-bluff move with the nut-flush draw failed to pay off.
One interesting aspect of the day was the decision to jettison the dinner break in favor of more snappy 15-minute breaks every two levels. With a more than adequate (if slightly overpriced) buffet on hand to service the players throughout the tournament, they never went hungry, and most seemed very happy with the decision to hurry through the day's eight levels, as it freed up time to visit some of the many local attractions on offer later in the evening.
By the time the chips were bagged and tagged, only 83 of the day's initial 272 players remained. These 83 will return in two days' time, where they will join whoever manages to make it through the tomorrow's Day 1b.
Here are the top 10 chip counts by the end of Level 8.
Ludovic Lacay $94,200
Dan Pedersen $71,200
Constantin Cirstea $69,500
Lukas Gideon Schwartz Orbach $69,200
Vasilis Chantzaras $67,700
Jose Luis Navarro $63,500
Philip Hepburn $62,500
Allan Baekke $62,300
Henrik Lundstrvm $60,500
Roy Von Der Locht $58,300
So that brought Day 1a to a close. A similar number of players, including the much-heralded Chris Moorman, will be tunneling deep into the bowels of the Hilton Hotel here in Prague tomorrow aiming to join these chosen few at the top of the leaderboard. If they can match the compelling poker we witnessed here on Day 1a, we should be in for a heck of a show.
We'll see you there, where as usual we'll be capturing all the action as it happens at the felt. You won't want to miss it so come Czech it out!