EPT9 Berlin Day 1A: More than just your average side event
The fashion this season on the European Poker Tour has been to roll into these cities several days before the main event begins, arrange a €1,100 buy in tournament and then sit back and watch as the supposed prime attraction struggles to reach the bar you've set. This is not the fault of the main events, it's because these curtain raisers have proven so attractive.
The Estrellas, Eureka, Italian and UKI Poker Tours, as well as the French Poker Series, have done such a fine job of putting asses on seats that the cities are already hopping before us fair-weather, EPT main event supporters have even dusted off the passports.
You wouldn't expect Germany to miss out on this trend, and it hasn't. The inaugural Berlin Cup kicked off at Spielbank Berlin this week and is currently entering its final stages as the main event begins today. Indeed, it also had its own high roller tournament, costing €3,200 to enter, which is also nearing its business end. It means that there are a smattering of high profile players hoping to play all day today, pick up enormous pay cheques, then re-invest €5,300 to play Day 1B of the main event tomorrow.
The Berlin Cup itself attracted 911 players, from 53 countries, and created a prize pool of €883,670. That's a near million-euro prize pool from a €1,100 buy in, which is a very specific sign of these season nine times. The "EPT festival" experiment has clearly been a resounding success.
Among the eight who made today's Berlin Cup final table were two former EPT champions: Pieter de Korver and Vladimir Geshkenbein. The former showed up in his trademark tailored shirt from his favourite shirt-maker in the Netherlands. The latter arrived wearing a rainbow-coloured Mohawk, which hasn't been anyone's trademark since the height of the punk scene in 1977.
And it's the more restrained sartorial approach that has proven to be the more successful. Despite starting the final table placed third in chips, Geshkenbein is already out in eighth today, taking €16,870. It's good, but it's not great for the former Snowfest champ.
De Korver, on the other hand, has only moved in the right direction. He started the day fifth in chips but is now tied second, behind the Russian player Anatoly Filatov. Filatov was a convincing chip leader at start of play today and nothing has changed.
The plan for the high roller event is also to play to a winner tonight, but that could take them into the wee hours. There were 194 players ante-ing up the €3,200 buy in, of which 40 came back today. In our experience, 40 down to one is a schedule that tends to take some time, and one can't imagine the players will be happy to add a third day and miss out on the main event. Among them were Micah Raskin, Jannick Wrang, Sorel Mizzi, Toby Lewis and El-"Bertrand Grospellier"-kY.
They also kicked off at noon today, with the entire €564,540 prize pool still to be allocated. The top 20 players will split it, with €166,500 going to the winner.
At time of writing, Raskin is leading. There are few players that have spent as much time near the summit of major tournament leader boards than the New Yorker, but it has not necessarily meant he's a lock for the final table, much less for the title. His chips could go anywhere.
ElkY is sitting one seat to Raskin's left -- primely poised, in other words -- and he has already built his small overnight stack into something more playable. Mizzi is probably in second place at the moment, and on another, safer table. But after three more players go broke, there will be a full redraw for the final 24.
Assuming you speak German (that's a fair assumption, right?), you can follow all the action from those two tournaments on our lederhosen-clad, sausage eating, death metal appreciating, bubble-permed German sister blog, PokerStarsBlog.de. Robin Scherr is your more than capable guide.
Meanwhile don't forget the way to follow our main event coverage. There's hand-by-hand stuff, including chip counts, in the panel at the top of the main EPT Berlin page. There will be feature pieces below that panel, including updates from the side events. EPT Live is now live. And everything to do with the European Poker Tour is on the European Poker Tour site.
That should keep you busy.