Viktor Blom leads after day of firsts in Madrid
This was always going to be a day of firsts: the first EPT event ever held in Madrid, the first time an EPT high roller was held before the main event and, as it turned out, the first time Viktor 'Isildur1' Blom led a live field at the end of a day's play.
But what today will be remembered for most by the railers was another first: the first time Isildur1 had faced Tom 'Durrr' Dwan across the same table in a live poker environment.
The two online poker phenoms kept us waiting, though. Dwan was seven, yes seven, hours late getting here. Finally, once he did turn up he was sat right to Blom's left with just 27,200 of his 50,000 starting stack remaining, blinds having eaten away at the rest. Alas! Tournament staff broke the table on the very hand Dwan sat down. But railer heaven was restored when the pair were redrawn at the same table - Blom in seat 4 and Dwan in seat 8.
While they did not tangle for the remaining level, history had been made and the rail - both those stacked on the sidelines here and those reading this blog's coverage - were very happy.
But let's not get carried away about all that. After all, we had nearly a whole day of excellent poker before Dwan got here.
From the very off, the lead swung one way and another. Benny Spindler, the young German, was an early contender before McLean Karr from the US took up the torch. But some unwise tangling with Masa Kagawa slashed his stack and he bagged up just 48,000 compared with Kagawa's 103,600.
Team PokerStars Pro ElkY, one of 12 from that elite stable in the turn-out of 58, was mounting a charge of his own. He busted fellow Team Pro Leo Fernandez to soar up to 105,000, good for the lead at the time, but he was to lose a significant pot to that man Blom, sitting on his direct left for most of the day. That had sent Blom up to 140,000 and from there he never looked back, ending the night with a table-topping 225,800.
Only Spindler looked likely to threaten that, coming in at the close with 208,200.
The field was stacked with big-name pros, hardly surprising given the €25,000 buy-in. They built a prize pool substantial enough to promise €525,000 to the winner. Eight will be paid.
Only 36 remained at the close of play, with one of the bigger names falling right at the end when Vanessa Selbst's A♣K♦ was outrun by Andrew Lichtenberger's J♠Q♣. Others to go included Martin Jacobson, WSOP champion Jonathan Duhamel, Jason Mercier and Pierre Neuville.
As some fell, logic will tell you others prospered. Team PokerStars Pro Johnny Lodden often builds a large stack early, only to see it yo-yo wildly. But today the Norwegian was in total, calm control, building an early stack of 80,000 and then keeping his momentum steady to bag up 114,000.
Other Team Pros to finish included ElkY (47,300) Vanessa Rousso (46,900), Humberto Brenes (37,800), Ville Wahlbeck (30,200) and Eugene Katchalov (19,100).
And what of Mr Dwan? His 27,200 was reduced to 16,900 by the end of the night.
So that's it for today from the Casino Gran Madrid. Viktor Blom will sleep very well, thank you.
Before you go off to do the same, you should make my blood, sweat and tears here worthwhile by reading back through the day's play:
At this point I would normally direct you to the efforts of our foreign cousins working alongside me in the press room - but none of them, nor indeed the rest of the media were here, seeing as EPT San Remo finished not even 48 hours ago. It was a lonely job today, although I was fortunate to have the company of ace snapper Neil Stoddart, who will send you unnarmed and naked into a bullfight if you so much as copy his pics.
Until tomorrow at noon when we play down to a final table of eight, cheerio.