After registration closed early on Sunday's Day 1b deep in the subterranean bowels of the Polish capital, only 217 runners had scraped together the 20,000 PLN to play in this, the third Polish Open in EPT history.
That's 217 runners in total, below the 284 who signed up for the first EPT event in Warsaw during Season 3 and just a tad above the 191 who bought in to Day 1a of the second EPT Polish Open last March.
In short, it's rather disappointing turnout for this event, with the Amsterdam Master Classics and an apparent surfeit of available flights combined with the fact that this event will not be filmed for television all coinciding to make a trip to Warsaw in November something less than appealing. Also, it gets dark here at four in the afternoon this time of year ... just saying.
Anyway, while Saturday's Day 1a action was rather devoid of big names, Day 1b was PokerStars poker star day, with a substantial complement from the Supreme Dream Team all taking to the tables among the 118 who rounded out the field.
Braving the Polish winter this time around were Katja Thater, Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier, William Thorson, Luca Pagano and that peculiar boy/girl amalgam known only as Isabario Mercinieri, as well as PokerStars-sponsored player Johannes Strassman, EPT5 London champ Michael Martin, EPT2 London champ Mark Teltscher, EPT3 Warsaw champ Peter Jepsen, Roland De Wolfe and the lothario of the Eurodonks, Gino "Wookin Por Nub" Alacqua.
The above and their lesser-known counterparts will compete for a prize pool that amounts to 4,340,000 PLN, or roughly $1.47 million USD. Twenty-four finalists will walk away with a piece of the prize pool, with the payouts ranging from 26,040 PLN ($8,800 USD) for 24th to 1,358,420 PLN ($467,900) for the eventual champion who, it must be said, will also walk away with a gigantic paperweight.
While the action on Day 1a was rather lethargic, with eliminations and big hands something of a rarity, the play was a little more spirited during Day 1b's allotted seven levels, with the initial field of 118 reduced to just 60 by day's end.
The day started off just right for France's Nicolas Levi, who found himself looking down at A-Q on the first hand of the tournament and watched the board come A♠ Q♦ T♦ A♣ before an opponent with K♦ J♦ decided to play for stacks.
Levi needed to dodge two outs to win the hand and successfully faded the straight and royal flushes, doubling up and taking an early lead.
Elsewhere, Dario Minieri was up to his usual tricks. The Italian rode a roller-coaster throughout the day, battling Ramzi Jelassi in a series of hands, the most notable being the one where Minieri five-bet pre-flop holding 5-2 offsuit and induced a fold from Jelassi, who to be fair held only Q-T and was playing pretty much the same game as his rival.
Eliminated on Day 1b were the likes of Sorel Mizzi (out in painful fashion with 9-5 against 9-9 on an A-K-5-5-9 board), Luca Pagano (crippled after calling Sebastian Ruthenberg's all-in with Q-T on a ten-high flop and seeing the EPT5 Barcelona champ turn up T-6 and then proceed to spike a six on the river to winnit), Markus Golser, the aforementioned Jelassi, William Thorson and Michael Martin, among others. Check the PokerListings.com live update logs for details.
Meanwhile, the pride of England and reputed former poker journalist Roland De Wolfe led the charge at the end of seven levels of action, having benefited the most from table draws that included at one time or another Nicolas Levi, Michael Keiner, Marty Smyth and Johannes Strassmann.
De Wolfe built his stack up to a class-leading $67,150 despite managing to avoid gracing the PokerListings.com pages with any really bombastic hands. Get full chip counts here.
In any case, that's your story heading into Monday's Day 2 action, where the 55 from Day 1b and the 54 from Day 1a will combine to create a field worth 109 souls. Action will resume at 2 p.m. Central European Time back down in the dungeon in Warsaw and continue, we presume, for another seven levels or so.
Keep it locked on PokerListings.com throughout the day and into the night as we continue to pwn from Poland.