The PokerStars.com Polish Open, or EPT Warsaw, depending on your preferred nomenclature, kicked off today with an absorbing if somewhat underattended opening day's play.
A surprisingly low attendance saw just 99 players roll up to play Day 1a, with rumors of problems with connecting flights circulating as a possible explanation for the paucity of numbers.
Despite the measly turnout, the players on show managed to put on a worthy spectacle, with several big names taking center stage to entertain the masses.
Two players who recently prospered at the EPT, Johnny Lodden and Will Fry (both final-tabled EPT Budapest) were to experience mixed fortunes here in Warsaw.
Lodden started well, before a major setback saw his flopped flush outdrawn by the river. He was left clutching at straws in his bid to achieve successive EPT final tables.
Meanwhile EPT Budapest winner Will Fry was attempting to write another page in history by being the first man to win back-to-back titles, but the wheels were to fall off the Fry bandwagon halfway through the day as he became one of the 45 casualties who won't be returning for Day 2.
In contrast, Lodden managed to turn his fortunes round in exhilarating fashion, converting his microstack of $5,000 into $35,000 in the space of just a few frenetic hands. The Norwegian looks set for his second deep EPT run in succession as he ended the day well in contention, placed in third on the leaderboard.
Though Lodden's remarkable reversal was perhaps the individual story of the day, there is no doubt that the collective results of the accomplished Winamax team were the most impressive group effort, with Ludovic Lacay, Anthony Lellouche and Arnaud Mattern all garnering big stacks with some impressive, dominant poker.
Lellouche had a fortuitous opening, doubling up early on with kings versus aces - a spiked king securing him a double-up - but he took full advantage of his good fortune, seizing this opportunity and building his stack imperiously throughout the day.
His efforts led him to the chip lead by the finish with over $57,000 in his stack.
Equally, Arnaud Mattern continued the excellence he has shown in recent tournaments by playing a huge number of pots and showcasing his stack-building skills in all their glory as he too ended the day well in contention.
Returning for Day 2, he will be joined by compatriot Ludovic Lacay, whose consistent aggressive poker yielded second place on the leaderboard by the close of play.
The three really illustrated how far French poker has come over the last few years, and if they can stay on the right side of variance, we may be looking at another French EPT winner in four days' time.
The slightly shortened day, which lasted a mere seven levels, along with the smaller-than-usual field size, seemed to contribute to some cagey play.
Bust-outs were few and far between and by the time the organizers had bagged and tagged the remaining players' chips, over half of the 99 strong field were still standing, with 54 players set to pick up arms on Day 2.
Here's what the top 10 chip counts looked like once the dust had settled today.
|Moises Parilla Ramos||$30,650|
Those hopefuls will join up with whichever players are lucky enough to make their way through the second tranche of Day 1, with numbers anticipated to be much increased from the lowly showing on Day 1a.
You can catch up with how the day panned out in more detail by clicking through to PokerListings' live tournament updates.
Tomorrow should prove to be an exciting day given the players penciled in, with Dario Minieri, Michael Keiner, Johannes Strassmann and many others among the big names scheduled to appear.
Join up with us then as we pursue the path to the EPT champion and find out who will be the latest player to taste the glory and rewards of EPT victory.