EPT Prague: The production line

The EPT these days runs like a well-oiled machine. Starting stacks are in place long before the scheduled off time, cards and dealers are ready immediately to begin to shuffle up and deal. The only things that habitually miss the advertised start are the players themselves, some of whom amble in up to three hours late - and then proceed to stumble into the cogs of the tournament's engine room, where they're chewed up, spat out and sent packing again, with no accounting for reputations.

Day 1a of EPT Prague followed all of these unwritten rules. Play began on the stroke of noon, but most dealers were fizzing cards towards unsigned television waiver forms and empty chairs. But as soon as the dribble through the entrance door became a torrent, so the same was true of the exit. Mattern: IN! Mattern: OUT! Pagano: IN! Pagano: OUT! Horecki: IN! Horecki: OUT! And finally deep into level three, Gus Hansen: IN! Gus Hansen: OUT! The revolving door is on order for next year.

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Luca Pagano - in and out

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Marcin Horecki - in and out

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Gus Hansen - Last in, but still out

The stark numbers show this: 272 players stumped up €5,000 for their seat on day 1a. By the end of eight hours' play, only 88 remained. More than two thirds of today's field are now sampling the wonders of the magnificent Czech capital, else sharing bad beat stories with the algae at the bottom of the Vitava River, to where they plunged after best plans went awry around the tables.

Some players survived, of course, and there are some familiar faces. The PokerStars.de ShootingStar Sebastian Ruthenburg has a hefty 50,000-odd and is well placed to make a charge for a second EPT crown.

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Sebastian Ruthenberg

And fresh from a final table in Warsaw last month, the French player Ludovic Lacay has the closest to 90,000, profiting gladly from a kings versus aces showdown late in the day.

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Ludovic Lacay

Constandinos Alexiou, from Greece, is in the same neighbourhood as Lacay, as is the Hungarian PokerStars qualifier Daniel Biro, who may or may not have invented the pen*.

(*He did not invent the pen.)

Other PokerStars qualifiers coming back for day two include Phidias Georgiou, the Cypriot player soon to be promoted to "serial PokerStars qualifier" status, and Alex Zervos, who is a new name to us but a natural around the tables. He bagged up about 60,000.

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PokerStars qualifier Daniel Biro

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Alex Zervos

Tomorrow is another day, and yet it will also be the same. It's day 1b, starting at noon (CET), and there will be close to 300 of them again, each beginning with 10,000 in chips. Among the returning players will be the Team PokerStars Pros William Thorson, Katja Thater, Dario Minieri and Noah Boeken. Oh, and some guy called Eastgate, who did something or other worth $9 million in Vegas in last month. He might be worth keeping an eye on.

The latest approximate chip counts for some notable players can be found on the chip counts page. The chip fairies will magically replace those approximate counts with the full, official lists sometime over night, as soon as the tournament staff release the digits.

While you wait, take a look back at all the action from today with any of the following links.

Play set to start
Dribbling into the room
What's the rush
A cruel hand of fate
Baby steps
Faces in the crowd
May the Schwartz be with you
Ladies and gentlemen... Gus Hansen
First faller from the Team Pros
Re-run, with Mika Paasonen
One gone, one hanging on
Another swing on the Lodden-O-Meter™
Bad for some, worse for others
Three clangers dropped in succession

And why not try to get in touch with your inner Swedish, Italian, Hungarian or German, by reading all the action described in any of those languages.

Moving pictures, with sound and everything, are to be found at PokerStars.tv. And all the wonderful static photography on the PokerStars blog today comes from Neil Stoddart.

There will be more of the same tomorrow, and do sleep well in the meantime. Goodnight from Prague.

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Howard Swains
@howardswains in European Poker Tour