EPT8 Prague: Andrey Saenko gets that certain feeling

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Yesterday we said the main story had been the anticipation of today. Today the story was how we were right yesterday. It's another record for the European Poker Tour.

When the doors were finally closed on registration for the main event this afternoon the field had risen to 722, some 138 players beyond the previous best set in Season 6. It seems even those who didn't qualify in the satellite we reported taking place last night simply decided "what the hell" and bought in anyway.

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The tournament room at the Hilton Prague

This mortgage-defying spirit will ensure the winner on Saturday walks away with €775,000, a full grand more than the previous best won by Salvatore Bonavena. It's the biggest event ever held in the Czech Republic and makes for two records in a week for PokerStars.

Not that tonight's chip leader Andrey Saenko will be concerned with records. Scant is the consolation in being an also-ran in the biggest Czech tournament ever played. What matters now is the 104 mark, when the money kicks in and records are turned into cash, with €3,501,700 in total to be divvied up. Saenko's 200,800 puts him in good position to reach that. Second placed Mads Wissing on 178,300 likewise.

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Andrey Saenko

With that moment days away we can only look back on the day's action for sustenance, provided by an impressive cast.

If it was dramatics you were after you need have looked no further than the likes of Vladimir Geshkenbein (93,600), Martin Jacobson (100,600) and Max Silver (177,100), all of whom will be returning tomorrow armed with varying degrees of chips, but capable of fireworks should the right opportunity provide a spark, having demonstrated just that across today's eight levels.

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Martin Jacobson

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Max Silver

Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier (17,400), Jonathan Duhamel (24,100), Eugene Katchalov (46,600) and Liv Boeree (108,700) all stopped by and will do so again tomorrow.

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Jonathan Duhamel

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Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier

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Liv Boeree

The same goes for Ville Wahlbeck (121,900), Johnny Lodden (39,000) and Jude Ainsworth (151,700), as well as Andrey Pateychuk (14,600) who wins everything these days.

Local hero Martin Hruby (20,100) will also be back, as will his date for the evening Mrs Dag Palovic (73,200).

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Dag Palovic with tournament director Thomas Lamatsch

Definitely not returning tomorrow will be World Series Main Event winner and Team PokerStars Pro Pius Heinz, one of the casualties today. That same fate found the German trio of Boris Becker, Sandra Naujoks and Sebastian Ruthenberg. They'll be no second Prague title for Bonavena or Arnaud Mattern either.

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Pius Heinz

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Boris Becker

What there will be is a big crowd returning tomorrow (around 275), their names, and the chips they'll be returning to, are listed on the official chip count page. In the meantime you can find fine detail, covering the gaps in this end of day report, at the following links:

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

You can find all of this nonsense in German and French in our conveniently titled "German" and "French" blogs.

Our thanks to Neil Stoddart whose images transcend all language barriers and whose copyright legal team are partly behind the reason Finnish people, including several EPT tournament staff, today celebrate their independence.

To them we say "Hyvaa itsenaisyys-paivaa" ("Hoovar it's a nice suss pie-var") and promise one day to find out where all the umlauts are on an English keyboard.

Join us tomorrow for Day 2 when play begins at 12 noon.

Stephen Bartley
@StephenBartley in European Poker Tour