Sander Berndsen leads as EPT Berlin reaches Day 2
Another day and another rich mixture of events on Day 1B of the European Poker Tour main event, in Berlin. As detailed yesterday, Day 1 is not really the day to be predicting winners, but if early form is anything to go by (another big "if") several players leave tonight destined to feature in reports like this one tomorrow, the day after, and the day after that, all the way through the final table on Sunday.
Back at the start though it was Marcin Horecki who first put a flag in the sand, drew a line with his foot and declared himself chip leader, racing to six figures in the upstairs tournament room, seemingly unstoppable. Yet, once more the poker gods proved that the time it takes to revert to "stoppable" can be painfully brief in tournament poker, and Horecki would soon fade, thanks largely to the efforts of fellow Team PokerStars Pro Jan Heitmann.
Heitmann's early stages had been the direct opposite of the Pole's, a rollercoaster by his own admission, he was reduced to less than 10,000 at one stage. But, like Kevin Stani yesterday, Heitmann put in the work, carving out one of the day's more impressive performances to finish on 100,800.
While Heitmann was patching up his stack last year's winner Kevin MacPhee was watching his fall to pieces, evidently by mistake. No one intends to lose their chips, least of all by misreading their hand, but that's what the American claimed to have done, ultimately over-shoving on the river with second pair against Kevin Vandersmissen.
Liv Boeree with Kevin MacPhee
There would be no repeat performance for last year's runner-up Ilari Tahkokalio either. He was sent to the sidelines, having been crippled by Nima Ahrary, a hand that would fling the German into the lead. Once there, Ahrary shuffled around a bit wondering what to do, like a child thrust onto the audition stage by pushy parents. Hoping that a few basic moves would do (it did) he bagged-up 166,600 at the close.
At one stage that figure had looked good for the lead. But instead that position would be contested by other, more natural performers, most natural of all perhaps being Roberto Romanello, who was another candidate for the chip lead tonight.
The Welshman's form has been nothing short of spectacular of late, a Midas touch that has scored him silverware at EPT Prague last December and just last week at the WPT Bratislava. That's €850,000 in the space of three-and-a-half months.
But while Romanello outdid everyone at his table, flummoxing those trying to take him on with some unabashed speech play, joking and cheeking his way to a stack of 152,400, this would prove some way off the leaders tonight, best of which being Dutch pro Sander Berndsen.
Chip leader Sander Berndsen
Berndsen, a high stakes player in his life beyond the four tournament room walls, surged to 242,900 tonight, sneaking up on everyone from his position on a hard to reach table at the back of the room. The table was something of a draw for big stacks, with Robert Flink, a few seats along, bagging up 203,400, good for second place on the day and third place overall, behind Cristian Dragomir's 205,500 last night. Alek Samardzic rests in fourth on 200,200.
There were no fewer than 28 Team PokerStars among the 458-strong field today, 202 of whom survived, including Johannes Strassmann on 132,000 and Joep Van Den Bijgaart on 120,300. Predictably not all had such bumper days.
Dario Minieri left some (me) disappointed, busting early before he'd ever got his teeth into a table he looked ready to assume command of, just as he did in Snowfest. His countryman Luca Pagano was also gone in the early stages, as was Liv Boeree and Johnny Lodden, as well as Dag Palovic, JP Kelly, Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier and PokerStars SportStar Boris Becker.
But chin up; it wasn't like that for everyone. Still in, aside from those already mentioned, are other runners, including George Danzer (started well, faded badly), Sebastian Ruthenberg (set pace early, faded, then rallied well), Pieter de Korver (ran his race, could improve), Fatima Moreira de Melo (slow start, stayed with pack, faltered) and Sandra Naujoks (best turned out, always the one to beat, smiled).
You saw the smile here first... Sandra Naujoks
One other player of note bags up a menacing 181,500 tonight, EPT Snowfest winner Vladimir Geshkenbein, who did today what Cristian Dragomir did yesterday, picking up his Austria form and running with it. Captain Dragomir may have thought himself free from the wrath of Geshkenbein, but like two superheroes continuing their feud in multiple sequels, their little encounter will go on.
Tomorrow will determine how long that continues. For now, content yourself by catching up on the day's activities at the links below, with the official chip counts available on the chip count page as soon as they're made available by tournament staff.
That's it for Day 1B. All that's left to do is point you in the direction of the German and Dutch language blogs and to thank photographer Neil Stoddart, who had to work in total darkness for part of the day, for all of the day's images.
Play continues tomorrow at 12 noon when the two Day 1 flights are united. For now it's time for a glass of warm milk and then bed. Join us again tomorrow.