EPT9 Prague: Iosif Beskrovnyy takes early Day 1A lead
In the first level of play today the unstoppable Dan Smith, winner of six major titles this year, turned to the player next to him and offered him €100 if he could guess the number he'd written down between one and 30. The player picked 23, which happened to be Smith's favourite number, but alas not the number he'd chosen.
If you'd been asked the same question today, slightly adjusted, to predict the number of players in Prague, you may well have come up with something close to the 336 that turned up to play Day 1A of Season 9's Prague leg, which continues to demonstrate its popularity among players. Last year 722 took seats here at the Prague Hilton. The field should be at least double that of today when doors are closed tomorrow, with another major prize, as well as a title, up for grabs in the last days of 2012.
Right now the closest player to that honour is chip leader Iosif Beskrovnyy.
With play best described as volatile during such an early stage, Beskrovnyy bagged up 239.000 at the close to lead the field, which had been reduced to 183 after eight levels. His stack will be the marker going into tomorrow, but he was not alone in having a successful day.
Jose Manuel Nadal Sordo had led for most of the day and was still part of the chase group as chips were bagged up. Others included Mikhail Zabrovskiy (172,700), Jose Alastuey, Todd Terry, Oleg Perepletchikov (144,600) and Oleksii Kovalchuk, all of whom finished with more than 140,000 chips.
Their action had an opposite reaction, with the exit of some notable faces.
Alex Bilokur departed early, as did Ilan Boujenah and Christophe Benzimra. Englishmen Wayne Bentley and Stephen Chidwick would follow, as would other high profile players Steve O'Dwyer, Jonathan Duhamel, Liv Boeree and Dan Smith, with the €100 still in his pocket. Former Prague champion Jan Skampa will also not return, nor will another former Prague winner Arnaud Mattern, who busted on the last hand of the day.
Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier, who may or may not have lost his luggage in Kyiv airport
There's a third group of course, those still remaining but without the major stacks. They include Eugene Katchalov, his prop-bet-buddy Bertraind "ElkY" Grospellier, Marcin Horecki, Toni Judet and the reigning champion Martin Finger. Jeff Sarwer, Ignat Liviu, Richard Toth, Fabrice Soulier, Juha Helppi, Eoghan O'Dea and Fabian Quoss will also return for Day 2.
With snow falling outside it was a good day to be indoors, with plenty going on in the tournament room.
After the introductions to the day we took a short walk through the field before following the progress of Loose Cannon William Davis. We determined that the weather made for the perfect conditions in which to play EPT Prague, an event which had its Eureka moment earlier today. We also looked back to the Season 5 final and asked "Where are they now?"
Join us tomorrow for further coverage as Day 1B comes in from the cold. Play starts at 12 noon with a further eight levels to play. Chip counts of all those who played today can be found on the live coverage page.
For now it's good night from Prague. Before we go, the number Dan Smith was thinking of was number one. You might want to try it if he stops you in the street and asks you to pick a number.