EPT San Remo: Stelmak leads amid San Remo storm

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A large crowd of players gathered outside the casino this morning. Standing opposite them was the casino security team's weekend shift; big men, working under the orders that no one, no player, media or tournament representative, was to enter the casino under any circumstances until noon. Unless they wanted to play slots, in which case someone would take their coat.

Many pleaded for reason in the languages of Europe but the armed men replied using only the words that the voice in their ear piece told them to use.

Eventually they got inside, to their seats and overnight stacks. But, while the start of the day was about trying to get in to this place, at the end of the day it was about how many found it very easy to get out.

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Casino San Remo

In six levels of play today we lost 427 players - 627 starters down to 200, just 20 off the money. Reporters struggled to keep count, photographers struggled to find shutter speeds fast enough and massage therapists had hardly loosened up shoulder muscles before those same arms were sent packing.

In short: carnage. Almost one elimination per minute.

And all in the shadow of one of the richest EPT prize pools ever giving everyone a good reason to hang around. 180 players will survive this initial madness when we hit the money tomorrow, and be guaranteed a €7,500 payday. One will walk away with a first prize of €1,250,000.

Among those magic men tonight are the chip leaders led by Dmitry Stelmak from Russia, with 670,000, last seen contesting the final table of the high roller event at this season's PCA. Some 36,500 chips behind is Alex Roumeliotis on 633,500, the only other player into the six-hundreds.

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Dmitry Stelmak

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Alex Roumeliotis

Behind them follow a legion of contenders. Erik Tamm (590,000), Jakob Karlsson (575,000), Dermot Blain (550,500), Nicholas Sforos (544,500) and Steven Gross (530,000).

Beyond those are the other magic men who, like Apollo Astronauts, are deemed to have the right stuff to set new boundaries of EPT exploration. These former EPT winners still line the San Remo field.

Most notable among them are Bertrand "ElkY Grospellier (454,500) and Allan Baekke (434,000). The back-to-Baekke puns have been flying all over the place regarding the Snowfest winner today, while ElkY dazzled with his play at the table and his clothes off the table.

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Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier

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Allan Baekke

Alongside him, grinning but without the NASA flat tops, are the likes of Thang Duc Nguyen (225,500), Harrison Gimbel (45,000), Jason Mercier (157,000), Arnaud Mattern (78,000) and Sebastian Ruthenberg (263,500) who could all make tour history in the next few days. Others looking for the first win include Mattias de Meulder who has 482,500 reasons to think fondly of his day two.

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Mattias de Meulder

Fellow Team Pros who'll be back tomorrow to argue their way past the casino's Sabbath shift include Thomas Bichon (257,000), Jude Ainsworth (140,500) and Nacho Barbero (83,500).

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Thomas Bichon

Those falling short of that mark though include Luca Pagano, who busted late in the day, short of his 15th EPT cash. Humberto Brenes also departed as did Dario Minieri within the first level. We said goodbye to Andre Akkari, Katja Thater, Lex Veldhuis, JP Kelly, Joep van den Bijgaart and Fatima Moreira de Melo. We also lost our chip leader coming in to the day, Michael Eerhart.

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Fatima Moreira de Melo

Everyone came out of today with some bruises but the lucky ones still had chips to soothe any pain. You can find a full list of them on the chip count page.

That's it for today, a day that still hums with stories of eliminations. We start again tomorrow for day three at noon when the money bubble will be breached and the real fun will begin.

To help brace for that check out the links below which detail all of today's action. Viewers are reminded that the following links contain flashing images, scenes of incredible gesticulation and may be unsuitable for younger readers.

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

Our thanks to our foreign cousins who blogged today in Swedish, German, Italian and Dutch. Thanks also to the photographic dexterity of our own Neil Stoddart. For moving images there's PokerStars.tv.

Join us tomorrow for another day of EPT San Remo. If it carries on at the same speed we should have a new champion by half past three in the afternoon. Find out who'll be the big cheese this time tomorrow right here on the blog.

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The big cheese

Until then, it's good night from San Remo.