In four days' time we find out who will be crowned the eighth EPT Deauville champion winning €614,000, a Slyde watch, and a huge trophy in the process. The player leading that race is Dario Sammartino, who smartly bagged up 427,200 to give himself every chance of a big first title.
Sammartino has had results before, including a runner-up finish in an IPT Main Event, to clock up $829,623 in live tournament winnings. A loose and fast player, the Italian was frequently involved in pots, and should he continue to accumulate chips will prove to be a handful for any opposition. Those jockeying for position behind Sammartino include EPT Loutraki champ Zimnan Ziyard (392,500), Norbert Szcesi (386,900), Jonathan Abdellatif (351,700) and Team PokerStars Pro Eugene Katchalov (345,700). All are competing for a large chunk of the €3,220,800 prize pool. Katchalov is chasing the Triple Crown once again.
Where that champion will end up fitting in the pecking order of greatest EPT Deauville champions only time will tell - a year is needed at the very least to register an EPT champion streak. It will take some beating to top Triple Crown winner Jake Cody on that front, but the Team PokerStars Pro won't be doing the double here. He busted the Main Event yesterday and was joined on the rail today by other former EPT winners Anton Wigg, Kevin MacPhee, Toby Lewis, Nicolas Chouity, Mikalai Pobal, Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier, and Ludovic Lacay. Last year's runner-up Walid Bou Habib, Finnish terror Joni Jouhkimainen, EPT reg Dominik Nitsche and last year's High Roller champ, Vojtech Ruzicka, all found themselves scratching at the felt.
While ElkY went quickly - and was last seen mournfully mounting the stairs towards the exit - other players stuck around for a lot longer. Those that managed it successfully included Stephen Chidwick (212,400), EPT9 Prague runner-up Sotirios Koutoupas (317,100), French singer Patrick Bruel (277,400), JP Kelly (247,000) and Team PokerStars Pro Jan Heitmann. We'll post up the full counts when we get them.
The day certainly felt fast as we churned through the 386 players who returned for play, down to less than 144 (tournament staff are still verifying), a pace which was well set by Ayman Zbib who had come into the day with lead and was gone quickly and without trace.
Ziyard and Sammartino's three-betting ways weren't as perplexing as the architecture of the tournament room. It's a fancy casino in a sophisticated French town, so it should come as little surprise that it was part of the inspiration for James Bond's Casino Royale.
Jamila Von Perger is establishing herself on the EPT with a side event win backing up that deep run at EPT Barcelona she enjoyed earlier this season. Von Perger has outlasted her other half, fellow German Manig Loeser, for the second time this season. Von Perger takes 112,500 through to Day 3 thanks to a strange late double-up when her all-in shove was accidentally called by king-six. Her ace-six held to give her a great chance to make the money. Loeser will have to watch from the sidelines again.
Day 1A chip leader Chris Day had a roller coaster six levels, mainly thanks to playing at the same table as Ludo Geilich, where they got involved in a don't-blink-first clicking war. Both players were pegged back later in the day with Geilich's flopped two-pair to getting counterfeited all-in by Denis Patout in a 180,000 pot. Geilich clawed back from that, partly at the expense of Day whom he finally managed to send to the rail, to end the day on 237,000.
We also caught up with the particularly candid Neils van Leeuwen, who was more than happy to be here in Deauville, which should come as little surprise given that he won €175,000 in the FPS Main Event. Expect to see him more often. Possibly even as much as Paul Berende, another Dutchman whose face can often be spotted on tour, quite often attached to a glass of beer.
Join us tomorrow to follow the action and that all important bubble-burtsting moment. Play resumes at noon CET. Brace yourself, it's going to be blustery.
Rick Dacey is a staff writer for the PokerStars Blog.