EPT Vilamoura: Bilokur done bullying the Day 1B field
If you've been following the blog and consider yourself an observant sort then you may have realised that there have been no in situ images of players at the felt, or of Carlos Mortensen's chip stack. The reason that all of our photos here have been taken outside is not because the players are dashing out to get a burst of sunshine each break, a ludicrous suggestion of course, nor is it because our photographer has developed claustrophobia. Due to stringent casino regulations in Portugal no photographs or video recording is permitted inside our host venue, Casino Vilamoura . On the upside this same tightness of legislation has kept this a well structured tournament with the gaming floor clear of random poker fans and railers who otherwise bump and bash into the back of players' chairs.
Let us paint you the picture instead. The tournament floor here is tiered across three levels with the bottom level, which sits in front of the press-covered stage, holding nine tables with each higher level holding the capacity for a couple more tables. The shiny brass railings separate each layer from the next and as the day wears on the players and chip stacks have trickled down from higher to lower leaving fourteen tables come end the day. The player that was the biggest recipient of that trickledown effect was PokerStars qualifierLeonid Bilokur who finished the day on 161,200. The Russian, who emerged towards the end of the sixth level of the day (of eight played) as a big stack, hasn't had EPT main event success before but has got a first place score in a €2,000 side event at EPT Berlin for €174,000. He will certainly be a danger tomorrow.
Not that Bilokur is out at the top alone. Some 203 players bought, satellited and hussled their way into the action this morning (making 384 total) and obviously many were going to get washed away. Some player names that you might, just might, recognise include Team PokerStars Pros Daniel Negreanu, Matthias and Christophe de Meulder, Bertrand 'Elky' Grospellier and Noah Boeken. Former WSOP World Champion Carlos Mortensen, Jeff Sarwer and Andy Black were but three other players that couldn't keep their grip on their chips. The players that did manage to get keep their footing and kept pace with Bilokur were Danny Neess (139,000), Sorel Mizzi (132,200), Brandon Cantu (122,400), Ronny Kaiser (107,200), Stephen Chidwick (103,000), Sam Trickett (132,600) and Nic Heather (140,800).
Every tournament starts differently and this one began with an early downpour in two places. At one table the heavens opened pouring chips all over Jonathan Weekes. In the first level of the day the Brit, who final tabled EPT Tallinn two weeks ago, felted not one but two players taking himself up to 90,000 before some players had barely sat down. And that takes us neatly to the second downfall of the day, which was the less beneficial tipping over of a PokerStars marketing stand that almost pole-axed Carter Phillips. Phillips arrived late and left early courtesy of aces into a set but given the crashing stand it was certainly probably the best exit he could hope for.
Phillips won EPT Barcelona Season 6 for €850,000 and while he may be one of the youngest champions on this tour he's certainly not been the only one here today. Last year's EPT Vilamoura winner Antonio Matias has been joined by the most recent winner Kevin Stani, who just took EPT Tallinn, Rob Hollink, Noah Boeken, Liv Boeree, Max Lykov and ElkY to name a few. Some have slipped but Boeree (79,300) and Matias (86,600) are doing particularly well, Lykov (47,200) and Stani (35,600) have shown they can always be a threat and will come back tomorrow with renewed focus. Jonathan Weekes, who got off to that fantastic start, ended the day on a very respectable 81,100. Another player who got through the day with a healthy looking stack was David Williams. The Team PokerStars Pro was making his EPT debut as part of the PokerStars stable and he has kept himself in the hunt with a 86,100 stack.
We come back tomorrow as the Day 1A and 1B streams converge bringing 221 players back into the chase for this second title of Season 7 of the European Poker Tour. Play begins at 12pm and is set to cover five 75-minute levels.
To catch up with all of the day's events click on the links below and if you'd like to see what happened on Day 1A then click here instead. If you've just clambered over this end of day summary with the aid of a (insert your language here)-to-English dictionary then you may be interested in knowing that you can read EPT Vilamoura updates in Parasol Portugese, Beach Towel German, Tanning Oil Italian and Beer Cooler Dutch.
All photos are copyright of Neil Stoddart and should be used courtesy of his name.