PokerStars Festival London: Bursting at the seams

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A packed house at the Hippodrome

Final confirmation is now with us for a fact that has been abundantly clear for quite a while. The inaugural PokerStars Festival on European soil is a smash.

At time of writing--minutes before the end of Level 6, which is the mid-point of Day 1C--the tournament information board states that 442 players have registered for play today. Adding that to the 333 who came through the doors over the two previous flights, and we're already up to 775.

That is significant for a couple of reasons. Not only is that the biggest field ever to pack into the PokerStars LIVE card-room at the Hippodrome (and by that, I mean pack into and sprawl out of the PokerStars LIVE card-room at the Hippodrome), but it's also the biggest field in a comparable stand-alone PokerStars main event in London.

This festival is the new incarnation of what used to be the United Kingdom and Ireland Poker Tour (UKIPT), and the London leg of the UKIPT only saw these player numbers when it was merged for a couple of years with the European Poker Tour. As a stand-alone London event, this is the biggest.

Furthermore, the registering is far from over. Although you're no longer going to be able to register for the first time to join the fun, there's a second-chance turbo Day 1D starting at 10pm tonight. That is open to anybody who had one crack on any of Days 1A, 1B or 1C but fell short. With only 45 getting through Day 1A and 51 from Day 1B, there are hundreds of players who may attempt to grasp that lifeline.

As you might expect, with play taking place in more than five separate rooms, accurate chip-counting at this stage is pretty tough. But it looks as though Radoslaw Zajdel, who is seated all the way up in the gods in the permanent card-room, is out front. He has between 130,000 and 140,000, and nobody else has as many as that.

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Radoslaw Zajdel, right, before losing a lot of chips to Daniel Heimen, left

That's not to say he is without challengers. Rodrigo Strong, from Brazil, has 115,000. He's in the cocktail bar. (He's not boozing; that's where one set of tables are located.) And Louis Vial also has more than 100,000. He has both Praz Bansi and William Kassouf for company, so that stack is doubly impressive.

Jake Cody showed up to play within the past hour, so he is still sitting with round about his starting stack. Meanwhile both the winner and runner-up of yesterday's High Roller final--Joe Johnson and Enzo Del Piero--are also seated in the Main Event. Sebastian Malec, the EPT Barcelona champion, is one of the alternates still waiting to take his seat, but he'll be admitted just as soon as space becomes available.

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Joe Johnson: High Roller back in action

Our snooker champ turned poker player, Stephen Hendry, has battled successfully through six levels. He has about 25,000 chips now, which is still more than enough to play on.

They will play another six levels in Day 1C before bagging commences. And then it starts again for the Friday night frenzy of Day 1D.

Follow live updates of Day 1C of the PokerStars Festival London Main Event via our friends at PokerNews.

All the PokerStars Festival London schedule information is available on the PokerStars LIVE App, which is available on both Android or IOS. Also make sure to follow us on Twitter: @PokerStarsBlog .

Howard Swains
@howardswains in Live Poker