EPT8 Prague: Beslan in starring role after opening night


When it comes to summing up the opening day of EPT Prague it's rather like judging the early rehearsals of a play. We spotted a few interesting characters in the mix, with 234 turning up for the auditions. After seeing them all, 133 will be invited back for further examination on Day 2 (please memorise a passage from Shakespeare and the dance routine we went through today), and the prospects of a good show come the weekend seem strong. Entertaining? Yes, we think so.

EPT events are seldom judged on their opening day, it's the finale that captures the imagination, the final curtain that leaves a lasting impression on the audience as they watch a star being born, albeit without the flowers and the tears. Players today had at best an invitation to return on Wednesday.

The tournament room at the Hilton

That's what Russian player Vedzizhev Beslan has tonight, chip leader by a narrow margin as play ended after eight one-hour levels. He pipped Jesus Cortes to the lead, with his 131,200 being a single chip ahead of third-placed Sergey Baburin on 131,100. Jason Wheeler is within a handful of chips behind them with 129,000.

Vedzizhev Beslan

That lead will last at least 24 hours. But few players know how susceptible even chip leaders are to the whims and arias of the poker gods, as Welshman Roberto Romanello (who last year was a bouquet short of the show-stopper described two paragraphs above).

Roberto Romanello

Romanello, who won in Prague 12 months ago, was one of the early departees today as was another former Prague champion Jan Skampa. Tomorrow Arnaud Mattern and Salvatore Bonavena, the two other champions that make up the Prague quartet, will try to better them.

Jan Skampa

Others stood out. Gus Hansen arrived late looking for a seat, found one and worked it into a stack of 52,600, with limping and masterful post-flop play that was fun to watch. Team PokerStars Pro Theo Jorgensen, replete with silver beard, also avoided any Day 1A tarnishing, just, and finished with 23,200.

Team PokerStars Pro Theo Jorgensen

Eoghan O'Dea, with memories of the World Series November Nine still fresh, played and survived the day's action on 50,800 having been down to 3,000 at one stage. It was the same ending for runner-up in that November jamboree, with Martin Staszko, bedecked in his new Team PokerStars Pro livery, bagging up 55,600. The full list of those also finishing the day with chips can be found on the chip count page.

Team PokerStars Pro Martin Staszko

But it's tomorrow we now look forward to, with a bumper field expected, most of which is looking for a discount way in via a satellite currently in progress. While they play that you can find all the news from today's play at the links below:

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

That brings Day 1A of EPT Prague to a close. Check out the French and German versions of all this, albeit without the sarcasm. Our thanks also to official photographer Neil Stoddart, whose copyright legal team is the reason the character Bruno Martelli was written out of the TV show Fame after season three.

Time now to ditch the legwarmers and leotards (I'm talking about you Marc Convey). Join us tomorrow for Day 1B. Until then it's goodnight from Prague.

Stephen Bartley
@StephenBartley in European Poker Tour