EPT9 Sanremo: Erion Islamay gets his nose in front at end of Day 1A
We have reached the end of Day 1A of EPT9 Sanremo and although this was not the most dramatic ten hours of poker the casino has ever seen, that fact itself is part of the tournament's success.
In the past, we have known snaking queues for registration and long-delayed starts, plus vast fields packed bumper-to-bumper in rooms that do not quite fit. But the European Poker Tour is a slick beast these days and all of those downsides are gone.
Players breezed in (320 of them), paid their money (€5,000), sat down in the new improved tournament room and played through 12 hours. The biggest hardship was the choice between creme caramel and chocolate mousse for dessert at the buffet - and "both" was a viable option.
Back at the tables, it was a day of quiet accumulation for all of our chip leaders, including Erion Islamay (162,300), Matt Salsburg (135,200), Inge Forsmo (125,700) and David Vamplew (119,300). Those four are close to the top of the chip standings at the end of the day, having been there for quite some time. The former, a 27-year-old from Trieste, Italy, is out front.
"It is a fantastic day, a great day," Islamay said.
Salsberg is fresh from victory at WPT Paris, and is clearly still playing the rush. He was the first man through 100,000 (the starting stack was 30,000) and he is perfectly placed again going into day two. Vamplew, of course, is the former EPT London winner. He has seen all this before.
Momentum is a powerful force in poker, and another man on a tear made it here on the back of a rich payday in Panama. Leo Fernandez, for it is he with 26,200 chips, was among a strong showing of Team PokerStars Pro in Sanremo today, most of whom are still battling on.
Jason Mercier, who won here on season five, was playing the day after his appearance at the final table of the World Series of Poker Europe main event. Although he was barely ever above his starting stack, he ground it out. He finished with 23,000.
Ana Marquez survived, with 24,200, as did Victor Ramdin. We have been seeing more of Ramdin on this side of the Atlantic in recent months and he is still in the hunt for his sixth career EPT cash.
Jude Ainsworth (27,800) and Team Online's Mickey Petersen (39,200) have also cleared the first hurdle. However two former World Champions - Jonathan Duhamel and Joe Hachem - couldn't make it through the day. They were among the 145-odd who perished.
Tomorrow is another day, on which we welcome to the tournament room PokerStars' cycling heroes Betrand "ElkY" Grospellier and Eugene Katchalov, among others. Meanwhile you can take a look back on all of today's other feature coverage by clicking any of the links below.
We bade you welcome to the Italian Riviera, we took a wander around to assess the field, we met Charlie Combes, our qualifier of the day and we had a look at EPT Sanremo day ones through the ages and pondered why there has been only one Italian winner.
Meanwhile there were a whole host of side events going on.