Baltic Festival: Last gasp Erichsen takes chip lead, ending Deeb's and Tallinn's first day
Today in Tallinn, there was not just a new location but an almost entirely fresh line up of players for the inaugural PokerStars Baltic Poker Festival. But wouldn't you know it, the two players among 130 starters we knew most about hogged the headlines pretty much all day.
The Team PokerStars Pro JC Alvarado and the online phenom Shaun Deeb had some kind of personal wager with one another on the outcome of their participation here in Tallinn. And late on day 1a of this four-day Main Event, it seemed as though they'd probably need a couple more days to determine who wins what.
But as Alvarado was busy bagging up his stack of 57,700 -- a 500% increase on his opening stack -- Deeb was all in with pocket sevens against the aces of Bo Erichsen. There was no two outer and Deeb was sent back to the online tables. Erichsen, meanwhile, took the overall tournament lead - a mighty 76,600.
Erichsen, from Denmark, had been on the radar for much of the day, but that final coup vaulted him right to the top, and even diverted some of the attention away from Alvarado. But I'd written the next paragraph about Alvarado before that happened, and I'm loth to let them go.
Alvarado was in typical form, entering as many pots as there were going, leading out and then talking his opponents into giving away all manner of tells, imperceptible to all but the best. On one hand worth about 40,000 of his stack, he made a call on a straightening and flushing board with top-pair eights. It was good, as was Alvarado's day. Suddenly Mexico to Estonia doesn't seem such a thankless trip.
The other serious challenger today was the enigmatic Ermo K, who sat beneath a black hoodie for most of the day but ruthlessly pounded his table. K -- is he the Estonian Tony G, or a distant cousin of Kafka's Josef K? -- was the early chip leader, despatching two adversaries within the first couple of levels, and then never looking back. He had 69,500 at day's close, which is another formidable total.
Other familiar faces included the PokerStars qualifier Natasha Ellis, from the UK, who is looking to add a Baltic cash to her previous successes in Latin America and Asia. She finished today with more than 20,000. That will do.
We were also joined by the Estonian NBA star Martin Müürsepp and his friend, the television presenter Mart Mardisalu, who had a friendly last-longer between them. The rookie Mardisalu won that, but he couldn't last the day. He joined a star-studded rail that also included the Icelandic television star Audunn Blondal. He was another early faller.
See how they all ended up on the chip-count page, which features all the tallies from today's play.
Those players have a day off to regroup as we welcome into the conference facilities of the Swissotel another raft of superstars. Peter Eastgate, Johnny Lodden, William Thorson and Katja Thater are in the building, likewise the PokerStars SportStar and ice-hockey legend Mats Sundin, who will be the main attraction on day 1b. As ever, all the details will be on PokerStars blog as we grind through another eight levels.
Take a look at all today's action and features with any of the following links.
Welcome to Tallinn
Stars of felt, screen and court
Assessing the field
The latest fashions
The first couple of Estonian poker
Deeb the vacuum cleaner and the globetrotting Ellis family
Welcome to Scandie-land
And if Swedish means more to you, then why aren't you at the Swedish blog already? I understand it's pretty good. You can also look at PokerStars.tv for moving pictures from Tallinn, and we thank our debut photographer Rene Velli for the terrific pictures.
See you tomorrow. Goodnight.