EPT Warsaw: Return to form

Yesterday's opener to EPT Warsaw was a quiet affair, a tight-knit friendly game played among a dedicated bunch who seemed reluctant to knock one another out. It was fun to watch and probably fun to play, but there was something unusual about it, something not quite EPT.

That was yesterday, this was today. And business returned to normal. Today's field weighed in at 121 players and by the end of the same seven levels, fewer than 60 were left. There were some of the usual trailblazers flying high, others unceremoniously dumped in the Wisla. Established names made waves again, unknowns worked on becoming known.

Top of the tree going into day two is Roland de Wolfe, the EPT Dublin champion from season three.

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Roland de Wolfe

De Wolfe was bounced around the room by a perennially breaking table, but hoovered up chips wherever he went and bagged up more than 60,000. He was one of numerous former champions in today's field and Pascal Perrault, Peter Jepsen and Mark Teltscher each joined the same table early on and remained there until the end of the day. (Sebastian Ruthenberg is also through and yesterday Arnaud Mattern and Gavin Griffin progressed, raising hopes of the first two-time EPT champion.)

De Wolfe will sleep well enough on his mountain of chips, but with the likes of the Team PokerStars Pro duo Dario Minieri and Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier (another former champion) breathing down his neck, there may be the occasional nightmare featuring an impudent Italian and a free-wheeling Frenchman, who seems only to turn up at a tournament these days to coast to the top of the leaderboard.

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Dario Minieri

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Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier

Minieri has more than 40,000; ElkY is the right side of 30,000.

In addition to ElkY, and similar to yesterday, there was a continued presence near the summit of the leaderboard of players from France. Following Antony Lellouche and Ludovic Lacay's dominance on Saturday, the less heralded likes of Remy Biechel and Alain Roy prospered on Sunday. The former survived a table of cataclysmic peril -- Minieri, Ramzi Jelassi, Alex Roumelitis and Patric Martessen -- to take 30,000+ into day two. On the other hand Bernard's pink shirt might have been shockingly loud, but his acquisition of close to 50,000 chips was quiet and understated.

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Alain Roy

In other Team PokerStars Pro news -- and also with a distinct French connection -- Isabelle Mercier is also riding high. Mercier finished with close to 30,000, and also survived another fierce table, featuring Katja Thater, among others.

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Tablemates Isabelle Mercier and Katja Thater

For her part, Thater made one terrifically gutsy play in about level five, calling for a chunk on an ace-high board, and seeing her kings hold up. The German Team PokerStars Pro wound up with about 18,000. Alex Kravchenko will also return and sit behind close to 20,000 chips tomorrow. That's a remarkable testament to his endurance as he sat with less than 5,000 for hour upon hour.

On the other hand, there was no glorious homecoming for the Team's Polish representative Marcin Horecki, who busted early. And Horecki found Luca Pagano and William Thorson on the rail by the end of the day.

The two day one fields now merge overnight and there will be 100-odd starting again tomorrow, reconvening under the same roof for the first time. Twenty-four will be paid for their exploits in Warsaw, and we will probably play down to that number tomorrow, tournament officials' decision pending.

Take a look back at all the fireworks from today with each and every one of the following links.

Inspiration abounds on day 1b
Tough draw - the table of death
Close calls and near misses
No Mercy by name...
"Someone is going to go broke"
Feeling ill - "schick-ness" comes to Poland
One up, one down
Charge of the Serenelli
ElkY leads, Team Pros follow
Buffet for the busted
Fall of the local hero
Taking it to the river
Look! It's the Minieri kid!
A peek inside the player lounge

Then try to get your head around any or all of the Polish, Hungarian, Swedish and German versions of all this.

As ever, PokerStars.tv has the moving pictures, and the PokerStars photographer Neil Stoddart has the best statics. Like this one, which sees us all into the night.

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Sleep well and see you tomorrow.

Howard Swains
@howardswains in European Poker Tour