EPT Berlin: Cristian Dragomir snatches lead at end of Day 1A
It's notoriously difficult to come up with any meaningful conclusions after the opening day of a European Poker Tour main event. While it's easy to pick the player with the most chips, forecasting what they will translate into in the long run is nearly pointless. As cricket writer Gideon Haigh wrote when describing the task of covering a five-day Test Match - while it's satisfying and challenging it's a bit like trying to review the end of each act of a play, with no notion of which way the plot will go when the curtain rises again.
Action from today
With that in mind the short version of the day would lean towards several players whose chip stacks took centre stage during this opening sequence. They would include Martin Jacobson, Jeff Sarwer, Antonio Buonanno and Mathias Kuerschner, each, at one stage, flying to the giddy heights of 150,000 chips or more today.
Sarwer got there first, before his stack was slimmed down to the 81,400 mark. Perhaps unexpectedly Italian Antonio Buonanno then found himself in the lead after the dinner break, to the animated delight of fellow Italian Giacomo Maisto, who only last week delivered the same sudden shock in Snowfest. Buonanno bagged-up a credible 153,100 at the close.
Mathias Keurschner snuck up on the leaders, not least for being out of the way, hidden at the back of a barricade of players in what is one of the smaller tournament areas of the EPT. He flirted with the lead, only to close the day on 140,500.
But at the end of Day 1A it was not Martin Jacobson who led, despite bagging up 177,000 at the bell, nor was it any of those who had led earlier. Instead it was last week's Romanian hero Cristian Dragomir, who sent Benny Spindler to the rail in the last five hands to snatch the clear lead with 205,500.
Dragomir picked up today where he left off in Austria, never removing a game face that can invoke fear and sympathy in equal measure.
Chip leader, Cristian Dragomir
There followed a second tier of player, made up of either the up-and-comers, or the opposite, the down and, something...
Cristian Dragomir would have counted himself among those until Spindler stepped into view. German pro Nasr El Nasr experienced the opposite. Despite starting and middling well, he ended on a downward slope, falling from a midday peak of around 155,000 to close on 98,000.
Nasr El Nasr
That made way for the likes of May Roca and Max Heinzelman to move on up, chipped up to 190,000 and 186,400 respectively, good for second and third place overnight.
A word about Kevin Stani at the close. The EPT Tallinn champion had his stack stumped early, falling to 20,000. Then he mounted one of those resolute comebacks that highlight the skill side of the game so well. It's often easy to point to the chip leader as having put in the best performance, but Stani withstood the pressures of the big stacks, in the hands of both good friend Sarwer, and Italian Buonanno admirably, and did things the hard way, bagging up 78,000 with which to return on Day 2.
Chip counts for all the day's 151 survivors, which include Team PokerStars Pros Arnaud Mattern and Henrique Pinho (so long Michael Keiner), can be found on the chip count page which will transform into the Official Chip Count Page once counts are made available to us.
Team PokerStars Pro Arnaud Mattern
In the meantime fill your boots with all the action from today at the links below.
You can also find coverage from Berlin in a variety of other languages, including German and Dutch. So really when I say variety I actually mean two other languages. While we're at it lets thank our photographer Neil Stoddart for all the images used on the blog today. We can only hope that after seeing those you still bother to read the words above and below.
The tournament room, today
We're back at the same start time tomorrow for Day 1B of EPT Berlin with play due to begin at 12 noon.
Until then, it's good night from Berlin.