EPT Monte Carlo: Brazilian Nishijima sambas to top of day 1B counts
If there's one thing we've learned over the years from this annual trip to Monte Carlo it's that you shouldn't expect change from €50 if you're hoping to get a dessert. If there's two things we've learned, then the second is this: they don't call it the EPT Grand Final for nothing.
From the moment the roof of the Salles des Etoiles slides back at the start of day 1A, there's a feeling of improbable grandeur, and grandness, about proceedings here. This is, on the one hand, big but it's also prestigious. In Monte Carlo, you're never more than six feet away from a millionaire - and for the opening stages of this most magnificent of EPT stops, we know a new one is in our midst. We simply don't know who it is just yet.
Tonight, the end of day 1B, we have a long list in front of us of players who will not be entering the winner's enclosure come Friday night. We'll learn more of those bust outs later. But more importantly, we all want to know the identity of the chip leader from the day's play, and that accolade lands tonight on Thiago Nishijima, from Brazil.
Nishijima is best known to online followers as "XTheDecanoX", the PokerStars screen-name he hid behind for victory in WCOOP event 16 last September. He emerged at the top of the counts just after the dinner break this evening, and bagged up 264,200 at day's close.
His closest challenger was Paul Berende, with 195,000. He bubbled the final table in San Remo last week, but is looking for an even larger pay day here. Good luck to the smiling Dutchman.
But back for a moment to some other key facts. When registration closed at the end of level two today, 497 players had joined the fray. Those, added to yesterday's 351, gave us a field of 848, each paying €10,000 (plus extras).
The bean counters got straight on it and told us that that generated a prize pool of €8,480,000, of which the winner will get €1,700,000.
Must Will be nice. (Full details of the payout structure is on - guess what? - the payout structure page.)
But a frantic nine levels on the EPT, even at the Grand Final, always means that plenty of big names will be knocked out. The don't come much bigger than ElkY, but he departed early. Then we lost Luca Pagano, Daniel Negreanu, Pieter de Korver, Sandra Naujoks, John Juanda, Erick Lindgren, Gus Hansen, Peter Eastgate, Jason Mercier, Ivan Demidov, JP Kelly, Mattias and Christophe De Meulder, Julian Thew, Sorel Mizzi, William Thorson, Dario Minieri and many others. There's always next year.
But if you take a look at the chip count page, you'll see many of the other contenders. Shaun Deeb (66,700) rode a roller-coaster, Alexandre Gomes (122,500) started slowly but then flew north in the later levels. Leo Margets (119,000) knocked out Viktor Blom, while Allan Baekke (54,900) was just Allan Baekke, and that means chip accumulation.
Vicky Coren (114,000) eliminated Julian Thew, and Minieri bust in the last couple of hands. Joe Cada (123,600), Noah Boeken (17,200), Vanessa Rousso (28,900), Juan Manuel Pastor (65,100), Johnny Lodden (36,500), Marcel Luske (55,300), Humberto Brenes (67,400), George Danzer (29,500), Joe Hachem (22,400) etc., etc., all survived a tough buffeting.
This season's EPT champions Liv Boeree (55,500), Harrison Gimbel, Carter Phillips (26,800) and the aforementioned Baekke joined last year's champion Salvatore Bonavena (156,300) in progressing.
And this was also a great day for sport stars. Although Boris Becker and Fatima Moreira de Melo bust, we saw a fine debut from Gael Monfils and breakout shows from Mats Sundin (83,700) and Teddy Sheringham (103,000).
The full counts from all survivors will appear overnight, and that, in addition to the following links, is your key to the full story.
If you don't like reading, you can watch to your heart's content at PokerStars.tv.
Today's pictures are all ©Neil Stoddart. We'll be back tomorrow at noon. Please join us.