PokerStars Festival Bucharest: Locals lead the way on Day 1A, with Kabatnic on top

It's an absolute scorcher here in Bucharest.

Not only has the temperature been steadily rising outside, it's also been heating up in the Poker room of the JW Marriott, as play kicked off on Day 1A of the PokerStars Festival Bucharest.

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It's a hot one out there

Back at the start of play, 177 fresh faces took a seat in hopes of a long day and a deep run. And at close of play, just 66 remained. The day involved everything under the sun - from sick beats and big swings, to the fall of Romanian money-leaders and the rise of the underdogs.

And while the day proved to be all fun in the sun for some, it was just too hot to handle for others. It took just 45 minutes into the day before we saw our first elimination, and - as expected - was about as sick as they come. You can read about it all here.

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Busy day

It also turned out to be a bad day for Romanian all-time money leader Alexandru Papazian, who we caught up with earlier today. The recent bracelet winner worked his way into a chip-leading position early into the day, only to lose an enormous pot in the penultimate level when his set K♥K♠ was crushed by Nicolae Georgescu's rivered nut-flush.

It looked like Papazian would just about claw his way into Day 2, until he met his demise shortly before the end of play when he got his remaining chips in the middle with K♦8♥ on a dream flop of 9♥5♥7♥. It turned out to be come up short to Andrei Nodea's A♥2♥ however, as the board ran 7♠2♦ to send Papazian home and Nodea flying.

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Good (then bad) day for Papazian

Leading the pack at the end of play is local, Tamas Kabatnic who sits on an impressive stack of 236,300 chips. His rise came following a huge hand in Level 3 when he hit a miracle ace on the turn when all-in holding AQ against QQ on a AQ9 board. After failing to qualify online, he credits the €500,000 guarantee put up by PokerStars as the reason he decided to play today.

Kabatnic is followed by fellow countryman Solomon Stan (196,800) and Andrei Nodea (196,100) following his bust of Papazian. It makes it a top 3 Romanian finish, which just begs just one question... Is THIS the year of Romania?

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Chip leader Tamas Kabatnik

We'll be back tomorrow at 1pm local time for Day 1B coverage to find out, where we're also hoping to see Chris Moneymaker in the action, and a few other notable names. We'll see you then!

For live updates, check in with our friends at PokerNews here.

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Dan Jones
@PokerStars in Live Poker