EPT San Remo: Perfect start for Eerhart as Dutchman leads day one

ept-thumb-promo.jpgSometimes the only way to get a sports report published in a timely fashion is to write it in advance. The key details appear in the first draft with xxxx xxxx in place of names and, in poker, xxx,xxx in place of final chip counts. Once those identities and numbers are known, in they go, and the big publish button gets a press. But before then it's all about framing a report around Mr xxxx from xxxx and how he got his stack.

With 656 players arriving for day 1B of EPT San Remo - producing a combined field of 1,240, the largest ever on the EPT in Europe - there was an awful lot of uncertainty amid the chaos and characteristic jostling of an Italian poker tournament. Mr xxxx from xxxx could have been any number of players with any number of chips, ever since Alessio Lamia knocked out two players in the first orbit.

When the bedlam abated temporarily at the close of play tonight, it was Michael Eerhart from Holland who is our latest Mr xxxx. He won a monstrous pot in the final level -- his aces against the kings of Sebastian Bauer -- to push his stack up to 247,800, a good chunk more than anyone in his wake.

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Michael Eerhart: Day 1b chip leader in San Remo

But there's some quality over his shoulder. When it's tournament poker we're talking about, there's often only one Mr xxxx. And for a long time today it was the all-round phenom Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier who seemed likely to have the amassed the largest pile from nine hours around the felt. The Team PokerStars Pro bagged up 232,200, which is more than yesterday's leader Alexey Rybin, but not quite enough to lead today.

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Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier: Reason to be cheerful

ElkY with any two cards is nigh on impossible to stop. ElkY with big hands is terrifying. He flopped quads at least once today; he had back to back ace-kings to eliminate two others. He was pretty much unstoppable, but the task of providing an immovable object to this irresistible force will land on some capable shoulders.

In addition to ElkY and Eerhart, the following are also stacked massively from today's play: Dermot Blain (211,800), Craig McCorkell (191,000), Daniele Amatruda (164,800) and Stefano Brega (160,900). Those four were also near the summit of names on the overnight counts, the full details of which will be sketched in overnight once a lot of counting is complete.

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Dermot Blain: One of two Irishman near the top of the pack

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Craig McCorkell: Stacked in San Remo

Also joining them tomorrow, when the survivors from both day one flights combine to make a 650-plus day two field, are a clutch of Team PokerStars Pros. Jason Mercier finally got to Italy - via bus from London - and made hay after his late arrival, bagging 117,600. That was better than his bus-mates Barry Greenstein and Peter Eastgate, who both couldn't last to the end of the longest day.

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Jason Mercier: Jet-lagged, luggage-less and travel weary. But still in

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Barry Greenstein: Same as Mercier, only with luggage, and out

Matthias De Meulder (172,400) might be brother-less in San Remo (Christoph is stuck in Belgium) but the lone twin had a breakout day. Andre Akkari (31,050) is still fighting, likewise Joep van den Bijgaart (107,000), Lex Veldhuis (42,500), Sandra Naujoks (37,500), Fatima Moreira de Melo (52,300), Pieter de Korver (23,900) and JP Kelly (65,700) among many others.

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Matthias De Meulder: Lone gun

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Lex Veldhuis: In

On the scrapheap (or "preparing properly for the Grand Final" whichever you prefer) are Joe Cada, Boris Becker, Katja Thater, Noah Boeken, Ben Kang, Johannes Strassmann and Johnny Lodden, all of whom went bust today.

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Joe Cada: Leaving plenty of time to prepare for Grand Final

Take a look back on a day that redefined high octane with any of the following links:

Introduction and levels 1-2
Levels 3-4
Levels 5-6
Levels 7-9

And there's all this in delirious Dutch, suicidal Swedish, incoherent Italian or Germanic German should that take your fancy.

It's PokerStars.tv for your videos, and all the non-moving pictures are ©Neil Stoddart.

Join us again at noon tomorrow, firstly to find out how you cram 650-odd players (and nine railbirds apiece) into a single ballroom; secondly how much they're all playing for; thirdly how they all get on in the attempt; and fourthly which one of us will lose it first.

Now let's all hop aboard the good ship Salvatore and get out of here.

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Good ship Salvatore

Howard Swains
@howardswains in European Poker Tour