EPT Monte Carlo: Big Guns Prepare for Battle

The music thunders, the fog rolls, the disembodied voice of John Duthie comes down from the rafters. Somehow, it seems all-too familiar. Probably because the same thing happened yesterday. That's the thing about another flight of Day 1. For those of us who were here yesterday, it's something we've seen before. Though, I have to imagine, it's a bit like the birth of one's second child. Regardless of the relative newness, it's new for the kid, it's still fantastic, and that's all that matters.

Today here, glasses are already breaking. I've seen shards on the carpet and early days stumbles around the room. There are a lot of big faces here and about. Pictures are on there way.

While I've been working out the technical issues and roaming the room, Simon has been on top of the tables.

by Simon Young

Welcome to Day 1B of the European Poker Tour Grand Final in sunny Monte Carlo. If you thought yesterday's field was impressive, wait until you feast your eyes on this one! Names spring out like a Who's Who of World Poker. Joe Hachem, Phil Ivey, Phil Hellmuth, Patrik Antonius, John Gale and... well, I could go on for ever.

As so often happens, the Poker Gods have come up with a fiendish seat draw, with several early candidates for the Table of Death Award.

One table, tucked away at the back of room, could be easily missed, if it were not for the fellows sitting around it. Sharing the felt here are Britain's John Gale, a bracelet winner at last summer's WSOP, Ireland's Andy Black, who came fifth in the main event just a couple of years ago, William Thorson, the fearsomely aggressive Swede who finished 13th in the main event last year, Thor Hansen from Norway, who plays so successfully in the US, Englishman Peter Gould and Baad Dahl, the Norwegian who finished 4th in the season one's EPT London - phew!

A little further down the line, two big guns face each other in the shape of Phil Ivey and Patrik Antonius, from Finland, who made such a big impact last season after winning the EPT in Baden, Austria.

Another hot table sees Flying Dutchman Marcel Luske and Team PokerStars Isabelle Mercier as neighbours. A few seats along sits Keith "The Camel" Hawkins, a successful PokerStars player from the UK, who has a mean live game - final tabling at November's Amsterdam Classic being his latest success.

With such a huge prize on offer, it's no wonder we are finding so many big-name match-ups, despite the huge field. A further tour of the room sees Team PokerStars' ElkY from France sitting next to Italy's Jeff Lissandro and Swedish singer-songwriter Dilba Demirbag, both PokerStars players. Also with them is English veteran Willie Tann and Germany's Erich Kohlmann.

And just to add to the mix, Norway's Henning Granstad, who sat at the same fearsome Table of Death in Warsaw as myself, is joined by some more tasty company today in the shape of Denmark's Gus Hansen and Finland's Juha Helppi.

Last year's Grand Final winner Jeff Williams is back again after qualifying on PokerStars, and sits at a quiet little table in corner of the room. Joe Hachem sits with England's Mel Judah (who has equal claim to be an Australian like Joe), and England's Micky Wernick.

With all this lot - and countless others - expect the action to be fast and furious despite the 90-minute levels and 15,000 starting stack. Stick with us, and don't miss a thing!

Brad Willis
@BradWillis in