EPT first as Negreanu leads in Vienna


When the figures were counted he could hardly believe it himself. Daniel Negreanu, who until three weeks ago had yet to cash in an EPT Main Event, is chip leader tonight, at the end of a fraught, bubble bursting second day at EPT Vienna.

After six levels the Team PokerStars Pro bagged up 893,000 chips tonight, nearly 200k ahead of second place Antonio Buonanno with 704,500, who is just 500 ahead of Team PokerStars new boy Toni Judet. A sign of Negreanu's momentum? He even won the chip race.

Chip leader after Day 2, Daniel Negreanu

Negreanu's own disbelief may have been simple good grace; the Canadian, who has made fun of his lack of EPT cashes (his first on the tour came in the Fairways and Felts Challenge in Vilamoura), is undoubtedly among poker's aristocracy. Yet surely he has topped an EPT field before? No, no he hasn't.

It was not as straightforward as that might sound. Written down at various stages of the day, the list of leaders looked something like this:

  • Laurence Houghton
  • Martin Hruby
  • Jose Severino
  • Mihai Manole
  • Daniel Negreanu and Jose Severino
  • Daniel Negreanu, Jose Severino and Jeff Williams
  • Daniel Negreanu

    Houghton's story was perhaps the most unexpected. The Englishman began the day as chip leader, only to lose it all before the midway point, running into a series of big hands. In his place stepped Martin Hruby, the Team PokerStars Pro from the Czech Republic, who took the lead but would himself be swept aside by Jose Severino of Panama, who six-bet into Hruby for half of his stack, forcing the Czech to fold the hand, and the lead. He would close on 228,000.

    Martin Hruby

    Former Grand Final winner Jeff Williams spent a short time in the lead, as did Romanian Mihai Manole. But it was Negreanu with the staying power, (could it really be the vegetables?), catching aces three times, bettering kings twice and jacks, before cracking kings in a three way all-in. In the space of an hour Negreanu's fortunes had flipped, taking him from 173,000 to more than 800,000.

    Jeff Williams

    In the end Day 2 took three minutes shorter than the forecast six levels. Play stopped when the bubble burst; 80 players remaining; Italian Gianni Giaroni, who only seconds before had high-fived countryman Buonanno in celebration of his double-up, crashing out in 81st place.

    Antonio Buonanno, high-fiving Gianni Giaroni (right)

    The others are guaranteed €8,000 from a prize pool totalling €2,935,000. That much will be an irrelevance to the player who wins top spot, earning €700,000, and you can find full details of who will earn what on the prize winners and pay out page.

    But while some surged, others splurged. There were hundreds of fallers today, among them the Team PokerStars Pros Ruben Visser, Lex Veldhuis, Michael Keiner, Jan Heitmann, Sebastian Ruthenberg, Darus Suharto and Pieter de Korver. SportStars Fatima Moreira de Melo and Boris Becker also crashed out, joined on the rail by the likes of Stephen Chidwick, Tom Dwan, Barny Boatman and the former champ himself, Pascal Perrault.

    Fatima Moreira de Melo

    Boris Becker

    But let's not let chins drop. There's still Nacho Barbero to root for, looking to add more wins to an already Faustian year. Angel Guillen will also return tomorrow, as will Team PokerStars new boy Toni Judet.

    Nacho "Jose" Barbero

    Their adventures, and those of the remaining 80 players, can be found at the links below:

    Level 10 & 11 updates
    Level 12 & 13 updates
    Level 14 & 15 updates

    You can find all the administrative necessities on both the prize winners' page and the chip count page, which is official, double checked, and done over again from scratch just to be sure. The videos from today are also available on PokerStars.tv.

    Alone and unpaid: Bubble boy Gianni Giaroni

    Our thanks to our foreign blogging colleagues resplendent today in their German, Dutch and Greek national dress, although to be honest the fact they wore the female versions came as something of a surprise. One last thanks to photographer Neil Stoddart whose copyright infringement legal team, with Stoddart himself at the helm, was the basis of an early draft of A Few Good Men.

    For those looking for more we understand it's all kicking off down under at the ANZPT Grand Final in Darwin, so feel free to catch up on events there at the appropriate link. In the meantime we're off out into Vienna for Schnitzel and giggles. See you tomorrow.

    Photography (c) Neil Stoddart.

    Stephen Bartley
    @StephenBartley in European Poker Tour