EPT Madrid: David Sonelin opens up early lead in race for Grand Final title

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This may have been the Grand Final, but it felt like a very standard day at the office today. Well, almost. Typically, this is the quiet day, the most notable players, (or the ones we recognise) opting instead to play the second flight.

But the Grand Final is something different, where ordinary rules do not always apply and the spirit of the occasion makes this a place where newcomers become giants, and champions suffer early departures.

Today's field was littered with candidates ready to fit both descriptions; former EPT and World Champions, new players getting their first taste of high stakes poker, attempting yet again to turn perceived talent into a cash figure with a Euro sign at the front that you can spend in the shops. The results varied.

While we lost World Champions Chris Moneymaker, Joe Cada and Jonathan Duhamel early on, as well as former EPT winners Mike McDonald, Rupert Elder and Jan Skampa, the likes of Lucien Cohen (201,500), Jason Mercier (70,800) and Ben Wilinofsky (233,400) thrived.

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Jonathan Duhamel, among the early fallers

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Ben Wilinofsky

Alex Gomes (233,400), Brian England (238,000) and Leo Fernandez (106,600) will return on Day 2; not though Lex Veldhuis, JP Kelly and Vanessa Selbst; their EPT seasons now over.

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Alex Gomes, among the leaders

But by the end it was David Sonelin who had profited most on Day 1A, the best of a field of 302 players, having steered past the champions and the not-so champion.

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Chip leader tonight, David Sonelin

Sonelin, from Sweden, was one of the first players to break the 100,000 mark. At the 200-400 level Sonelin took down a 100,000 pot with quad-eights, then began bluffing a little and getting paid off when he had it. In his own words his timing was "spot on". His stack of 275,900 tonight is testimony to that.

But Sonelin take warning. While the opulence and glamour of a Grand Final may be markedly different to a regular season competition, the unpredictably of the chips leader's fate at this stage is the game's only predictable feature.

The Day 1B line-up will be formidable, with a new wave of champions, again European and world based, as well as legions of foreign raiders, taking a seat at Casino Gran Madrid. The season finale is not the time to miss the action. Find out how the field was reduced to 132 players today, by clicking through the links below, with the official chip counts available here, just as soon as they are released by tournament staff.

Level 1 & 2 updates
Level 3 & 4 updates
Level 5 & 6 updates
Level 7, 8 & 9 updates

Now for Day 1B, which begins at 12 noon tomorrow. Until then that's all from us. Thanks to our foreign blogging buddies, who have yet to direct German or Dutch readers back to the English blog. Thanks also to Kim Curtin for today's images.

ElkY won the High Roller earlier today, worth more than €500,000. You can read all about that here.


Until tomorrow then we're off for a couple of Mint Juleps before we count our losses on the Kentucky Derby.

Goodnight from Madrid.