EPT8 Deauville: Grab the Day 1 lead and win money (well most of the time)


After eight seasons of the European Poker Tour, and having reported on it since season two, it's easy to notice various clichés that emerge from a main event. It's not exclusive to the EPT of course. Any large event will throw up some standard sayings that are typed out almost automatically.

The Day 1B field for instance will always be larger - and stronger - than Day 1A. Someone will always be in form after a recent win; there will always be a table of death and a player who just doesn't fit the stereotype of an EPT winner.

There will also be a final table player destined to finish fifth, a player coming from out of nowhere to score their biggest ever result and a player looking to turn pro after a big win. There will always be an unlucky bubble boy and of course, no one ever wins an EPT on Day 1 and the chip leader at this early stage is no more guaranteed victory than anyone else.

But it seems we may have been a little wide of the mark with this last point. Can you win an EPT on day 1? Well perhaps not. But if you broaden the definition of "win" to include a deep run and a cash finish, then the answer must definitely be yes.

Of the seven events so far on EPT Season 8, five of the seven Day 1 chip leaders have gone on to finish in the money. Two of them have reached the final table. One of them, Benny Spindler, actually won the title at EPT London.

Spindler is not alone in being the only winner to have been ahead after opening day. In season 7 last year Vladimir Geshkenbein, the grinning assassin, led after day one and dominated the entire week, swaggering his way through the final to a first prize of €390,000 (minus the bottle of Dom Perignon he bought when action went heads-up) at EPT Snowfest.

Spindler and Geshkenbein are the only players to do it (looking back over the past three seasons that is), but the record of Day 1 leaders at least reaching the money is clear. The fact is that if you lead on Day 1 you stand about a 70 per cent chance of making the money and a better than one in four chance of reaching the penultimate day (the last 24).

All about chips

As far as reaching the final table goes two Day 1 leaders have done so this year (Spindler and Mario Puccini in Loutraki, who finished eighth), while in Season 7 it was just Geshkenbein. Looking back to Season 6 however, and two players reached the final table: Nikolai Senninger in London, finished third, while Jeff Sarwer also came third in EPT Vilamoura.

For those interested, here are the full lists:

EPT Season 8
EPT Tallinn - Oscar Lima (did not cash)
EPT Barcelona - Guillaume Darcourt - 46th
EPT London - Benny Spindler - 1st
EPT San Remo - Taylor Paur (did not cash)
EPT Loutraki - Mario Puccini - 8th
EPT Prague - Andrey Saenko - 56th
PCA - Alex Venovski - 23rd

Reached the money, 71%; reached the penultimate day, 42%; reached the final table, 28%; won, 14%.

Season 7
EPT Tallinn - Perica Bukara - 14th
EPT Vilamoura - Leonid Bilokur (did not cash)
EPT London - Caludio Cecchi - 26th
EPT Vienna - Laurence Houghton (did not cash)
EPT Barcelona - Luis Rufas - 10th
EPT Prague - Dirk Richter - 54th
PCA - Walid Bou Habib - 16th
EPT Deauville - Philippe Massias - 37th
EPT Copenhagen - Domantas Klimciauskas - 55th
EPT Snowfest - Vladimir Geshkenbein - 1st
EPT Berlin - Sander Berndsen (did not cash)
EPT San Remo - Ruben Visser - 124th
EPT Grand Final - Ole-Kristian Nergard - 24th

Reached the money, 77%; reached the penultimate day, 38%; reached the final table, 8%; won, 8%.

Season 6
EPT Kyiv - Viktor Ivanov (did not cash)
EPT Barcelona - Matt Woodward - 47th
EPT London - Nikolai Senninger - 3rd
EPT Warsaw - Anthony Lellouche - 19th
EPT Vilamoura - Jeff Sarwer - 3rd
EPT Prague - Marius Heiene - 41st
PCA - Anibal Tacla (did not cash)
EPT Deauville - Luca Pagano - 72nd
EPT Copenhagen - Ilkka Koskinen (did not cash)
EPT Berlin - William Thorson - 89th
EPT Snowfest - Koen Berendsen - 27th
EPT San Remo - Michael Eerhart (did not cash)
EPT Grand Final - Nishijima Sambas (did not cash)

Reached the money, 62%; reached the penultimate day, 23%; reached the final table, 15%; won, 0%.

Overall it means in the past two and a half season on the EPT Day 1 chip leaders have reached the money 69.7% of the time; reached the penultimate day 33.3% of the time and the final table 15.2% of the time. Six per cent of Day 1A leaders have gone on to win.

What does this mean exactly? Well leading on opening day and reaching the money (regardless of finishing position) suggests a player relying on ability for an extended period of time. Does that mean that those who led early and did not cash were the beneficiaries of one big hand or a stroke of luck? Not necessarily. Leonid Bilokur led in Vilamoura last season and Taylor Paur led in San Remo this season and neither chased, but few would doubt their ability in a poker game.

Either way it should put an end to the idea that leading on Day 1 of a poker tournament is irrelevant, and give a little boost to last night's leader Amir Salhani.

With nearly a 70 per cent chance of making the money; chip leader Amir Salhani

That said, I wonder what significance there is in leading after Day 2?