EPT9 Barcelona: Aku Joentausta leads ninth birthday celebrations

ept-thumb-promo.jpgThe EPT entered its ninth year today in the city that has hosted all but a handful of the tour's most notable anniversaries. Day 1A of the latest main event kicked off under the auspices of Gran Casino Barcelona, as it has done every year since 2005.

Plenty is the same, but plenty has changed - not least the size of the party and the cost of a ticket, as well as many of the names on the guest list. For instance our chip leader tonight is Aku Joentausta, from Finland, who has but a 94th placed finish in Sanremo on his EPT resume. Welcome back, Aku. It only gets more frantic from here.


Aku Joentausta, Day 1A chip leader at EPT9 Barcelona

Joentausta emerged quite late in the day with the big stack, but bagged the most, 236,200, ahead of Guy Thomas (211,000), Emanoil Savin (190,600) and Mauro Canavesi (155,400). Each has infinitely more than the likes of Arnaud Mattern, Liv Boeree, Martin Hruby, Sorel Mizzi, Vladimir Geshkenbein, Andrey Patyechuk, Andrew Lichtenberger and Anton Wigg, who are only a few of the big names who came and played but bust before eight levels were done. The EPT has never been a particularly forgiving place, no matter your reputation.


Lex Veldhuis, left, and Arnaud Mattern - aka In and Out

Levels now last for 75 minutes, even on the opening day, and 403 players parted with €5,300 for their attempt to last through it. Those successful also included the Team PokerStars Pros Lex Veldhuis (148,800), Juan Manuel Pastor (72,400), Pius Heinz (78,400), Sebastian Ruthenberg (95,700), Henrique Pinho (77,800), Marcin Horecki (14,200) and Mattias de Meulder (29,900). There are also the former champions Martin Schleich (81,800) and Zimnan Ziyard (137,900). We need some continuity and it's good to have them here.


Pius Heinz, world champion survived Day 1a


Mattias de Meulder, still in too

Special attention was due today to Sergey Martynenko, who won his seat to the tournament after winning the "Help Rafa" competition. And we also checked in with our Qualifier of the Day, Paul Williams,

Tomorrow we do it all again.

Howard Swains
@howardswains in European Poker Tour