Tallinn local Andry Purk, who lives in the Old Town district of the Estonian capital, is the chip leader at the end of Day 1a of the PokerStars Baltic Festival. The 22-year-old sports data analyst, who won his seat on PokerStars, has been playing poker for five years and kicked off using jelly babies as poker chips. He now has 73,050 real chips and is in great shape for Day 2 of the event, writes Mad Harper.
It's tough to say that Day 1a drew to a close here in Tallinn as we're so far north that the sun is only just setting. However, in the scarlet-and yellow-tinged dusk of nearly midnight, just 37 players are left from the 96 who started the day.
A host of stars took their seats for the first day of the €1,500 Main Event and many have made it through. Finnish pro and EPT Barcelona finalist Mika Paasonen is in third place with 50,725 and PokerStars qualifier Mathias Hoog, who won the "Mats Sundin Gold Hunt" - a five-day trip to the Vancouver Olympics with Team PokerStars SportStar Sundin - has 49,850. Other survivors include Danish pro Martin Wendt, Tuomas Ketola, the former Finnish #2 tennis pro, and Estonian PokerStars-sponsored TV presenter Mart Mardisalu.
Among those who competed on Day 1a but are now watching the action from the rails are Eurovision Song Contest star Maarja-Liis Ilus, Estonia's Henri Käsper, winner of the 2007 Baltic Open Championship, Finnish pro Kimmo Kurko who won the Season 5 EPT San Remo €2,000 event and Billy Seber from Houston, Texas, USA, a 62-year-old retired gear factory supervisor who is here on his first ever visit to Europe after winning his seat to Tallinn on PokerStars.
Taking part on Day 1b of the Main Event tomorrow are Team PokerStars SportStar and Finnish Formula 1 powerboat champion Sami Seliö, Team PokerStars Pros William Thorson from Sweden, Marcin Horecki from Poland and Ville Wahlbeck from Finland as well as Team Online member Grzegorz Mikielewicz from Poland and the PokerStars-sponsored Estonian NBA player Martin Müürsepp.
More than 80 players won their seats to Tallinn on PokerStars and are proudly wearing the PokerStars logo at the tables. The PokerStars-branded player who lasts longest in the Main Event wins a prize package worth €6,000 for EPT Tallinn, the debut event of Season 7 of the PokerStars.eu European Poker Tour which runs August 11-16 at the Swissôtel.