EPT9 Monaco Day 1A: A room full of stars for the Salle des Etoiles

The PokerStars and Monte-Carlo® Casino European Poker Tour Grand Final should be more than just another poker tournament; certainly a name that long would suggest such. As things go the hosts at the Le Sporting have cracked it. The Salle des Etoiles is not only a beautiful place to play, even with the curtains drawn, blocking out all but a few shards of light from the panoramic vista outside, but right now it's a peaceful, tranquil environment, just a couple of cucumber slices short of a spa.

The reason is the rather exclusive turn-out that has transformed Day 1A into an accidental high roller, complete with a cast of high fliers who currently enjoy a spacious afternoon among friends, without a care in the world, except perhaps for the echo.

Jonathan Duhamel, before his opponents arrived

Organisers expect a massive field tomorrow, and will get it (the registration list is already long). But today, well, it's more of a walking start as mere mortals, struck by the immortal prices of this town, save themselves a night's hotel. It has left only those whose regard for that kind of thing is slight.

The standout table is that of Boris Becker, referenced earlier. If it was bad for Herr Becker at the start it just got worse, with Barry Greenstein taking a seat on his immediate right. Then again Boom-Boom is here off the back of a deep run in Berlin. Once you get a taste for it...

Other late arrivals include Toby Lewis, seated to the right of abstract expressionism's Mark Teltscher, winner of EPT London all the way back in Season 2, already enjoying a massage. It may be small, but it's a dazzling field. If this were Day 3 we'd be thrilled.

Stephen Bartley is a PokerStars Blog reporter.

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