Baranov waltzes to lead in EPT Vienna

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Day 1A has come to an end at EPT Vienna, the first day of what is something of a renaissance for poker in Vienna - the tour making its first return to the Austrian capital since way back in 2005. The Kursalon has proven to be a fitting venue for this revival, a hall usually taken over by waltzes, white ties and ball gowns, turned over to the shuffle of cards, riffle of chips and the unsatisfying elasticated snap of casual trousers.

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The Kursalon by day

Daubed in Imperial yellow, the Kursalon stands proud amid a district of Vienna awash with history.

Just a few minutes away the handiwork of Gustav Klimt attracts thousands of art lovers every week. In another direction you enter a labyrinth of bars and restaurants amid the acned map of Mozart's 13 different lodgings, from where he wrote his masterpieces. Beyond that lies a world of royal history, political history and the Stephansdom which miraculously survived it all.

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The tournament room at the Kursalon

Who survives here and who will settle for a footnote in EPT Vienna's collective memory remains to be seen. But from the 117 survivors today, and the balance of players who face their start tomorrow, will emerge a new champion for poker's history books and Archduke among those tonight is chip leader Sergii Baranov, from Ukraine.

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Chip leader Sergii Baranov

Baranov bagged-up 183,200 tonight, more than 15k ahead of second placed Ramon Cserei, from Romania, on 168,300. While Cserei got the bulk of his chips after a big hand against Marc Naalden, Baranov's day took a more subtle course; no headline pots, nothing to cause great fibrillation, just cold hard Ukrainian domination.

Also among the leaders is Team PokerStars Pro Martin Hruby, the closest a poker player will get to being a national hero in the Czech Republic, I'd imagine (unless Jan Skampa had something to say). He led at one stage, but bags up 159,000 tonight, good for third place.

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Team PokerStars Pro Martin Hruby

They were not alone in finishing with good looking stacks, with Mikhail Ryabkov (136,800), Stephen Chidwick (124,000) and Barny Boatman (121,000) each set to return on Day 2. Joining them will be Team PokerStars Pros Lex Veldhuis, Michael Keiner and Ruben Visser; with the likes of Jeff Williams, Pierre Neuville, Jake Cody, Nicolas Levi and Antony Lellouche joining them.

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Michael Keiner

Then there was the bad news. The video blog team documented Alex Kravchenko's plight a short time before his demise; a tough day written all over his usually hard-to-read-anything-from face. Then there was Frenchman Arnaud Mattern, who departed a little earlier, the victim of a plain old-fashioned bad day.

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Arnaud Mattern, in happier times

Also heading to the rail today are Team Pros Marcin Horecki, hobbled almost before he sat down, along with Vadim Markushevski, Pierpaolo Fabretti and Team Online Pro Andre Coimbra, along with Canadian Jeff Sarwer and Snowfest champ Allan Baekke.

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Jeff Sarwer

Details of that, and of everything that happened today, all proof-read, accurate and original, can be found by clicking through the links below.

Level 1 & 2 updates
Level 3 & 4 updates
Levels 5 & 6 updates
Level 7, 8 & 9 updates

You can find the official chip counts from Day 1A on the aptly-titled chip count page, as well as videos from today on PokerStars.tv.

All that's left is to thank our foreign blogging teams from Germany, Holland, and our new boy from Greece, as well as the trained eye of photographer Neil Stoddart; an eye that measures exactly 300 by 450 pixels. What he sees really is what you get.

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The Kursalon by night

If waiting 12 hours just isn't going to cut it with you then feel free to turn the world on its head and catch up with events in Darwin, at the Australia New Zealand Poker Tour Grand Final being held at the Sky City Casino. But until tomorrow, when another room full of players will start their campaign to win the EPT's newest old title, that's all from us in Vienna.

Photography (c) Neil Stoddart.