The last time the EPT touched down in Deauville was all the way back in Season 1 when Brandon Schaefer defeated his good friend Carl Olson to take down the first-place prize and a seat at the Grand Final.
Due to gambling laws in France this tournament was then put on hiatus. Until now!
With the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure barely more than a week behind us, and the Aussie Millions in full swing, we weren't sure what to expect as far as turnout here in Deauville was concerned.
If today's Day 1a field is any indication, however, this will be one of the bigger events of this EPT season.
Over 300 players made it to the Casino Barrière here in Deauville and threw their €5,000 buy-in on the table for a chance at EPT glory. By tomorrow we'll have our final numbers and since the second Day 1 heat is traditionally bigger than the first, we should see a total field of more than 600!
In addition to the scores of qualifiers who earned their seats on PokerStars.com and the select high rollers who bought in for lack of a better way to spend their money, we saw nearly every French pro of note hit the felt here today.
Team Winamax was well-represented, with stars Arnaud Mattern, Ludovic Lacay and Nicolas Levi turning out to play, although Lacay was the only one of the trio who would survive the day.
In addition to the young guns of France was a contingent of the old school. Paul Testud, Elie Marciano, Pascal Perrault, Michel Abécassis and Robert Cohen were all here to show the younger generations how poker was played before teh internets.
Despite the majority of the room hailing from France, it was a young man from Belgium who finished the day out in front. We first noticed Jonathan Abdellatif early in the day as he pulled off a huge all-in bluff.
On a board of 7♠ 7♣ 2♣ 3♠ Abdellatif was faced with a $3k bet into the pot of approximately $5,000. He took his time thinking things over and eventually moved all-in for what looked like 10 or 12 thousand more.
His opponent quickly folded and Jonathan threw Q♥ T♥ down on the felt.
We don't know whether he got the rest of his chips with similar moves, but he'll be leading the group of Day 1a survivors as the only player to break the $100,000 mark.
Tomorrow will see the other half of the starting field pile into the tournament room at the Deauville Casino. Can anyone catch Jonathan Abdellatif and his $105,000? Will PokerListings.com continue to bring you all the action like only we can? Time will tell the answer to the first question but I can tell you the verdict on the second: Yes. Oh god yes!
Think you've got what it takes to swim with the big fish? Take advantage of our exclusive sign-up bonuses at PokerStars and you could qualify to come play on the EPT yourself!