EPT9 Monaco: Dan Smith rides "1-1" superstition to Day 1A chip lead

He's a living example of how poker is a game of skill, but right now Dan Smith will happily campaign on pure luck. By chance the random table draw put him on table one, seat one this morning, making his ID card read "1.1.A". Smith must have been delighted when he saw the draw. He certainly was tonight. As he bagged-up the chip lead he pointed at the numbers written on a card in front of him: "I've started as 'one-one' twice," he said, his big chin grinning. "I won both times."

Smith, bagging up 136,500, seemed convinced by this omen and few players, in a similar position, would convince you of their invincibility with a cold shudder as well as him. Just look at his record: the $100 Challenge at the Aussie Millions, three $5,000 events here in 2012 and the Super High Roller in Barcelona to kick off the season. Think what you like about coincidence - we're now believers.

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Dan Smith

The best way to describe play at the start today was unusual. A field of 108 took seats, unusually small for a Grand Final but one packed with the kind of line up we crave on say Day 3, with champions of various shapes and sizes littering the field.

So if you'd asked "What chance Arlo Dotson is chip leader at the close of play?" this morning, few would have banked on the American, and yet the newbie led with 20 minutes to play. He'd not finish on top, closing on 127,100, but he had the kind of day to turn a few heads.

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Arlo Dotson

Splitting Dotson in fourth and Smith up top was Pablo Fernandez with 135,900 and the inimitable Freddy Deeb, complete with headphones and a mobile phone from about 1998, creeping up on the lead with 133,900. Smith first, Fernandez second, Deeb third, Dotson fourth - that quartet represent the high water mark after today's eight levels. Just to keep things interesting Jake Cody is in fifth with 119,000.

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Freddy Deeb

Tomorrow the doors will open on Day 1B where a significantly bigger field will descend on the Salle des Etoiles. For now get an idea of how the day shaped up by browsing our live coverage page, which includes all the hand for hand action, as well as chips counts of the remaining 53 players from today.

As well as the latest news from side events, you can also review the day via feature posts from today's coverage.

After today's introductions were made, and the dynamics of the table drawlooked at, we examined the case of those player who seem only play the grand final, as well as those who sometimes need a little help. We also met Tatiana Barausova and learnt a few handy survival skills for life in Monte Carlo.

After a postprandial overview , we talked Ville Wahlbeck, then Boris Becker, then the hurdy-gurdy of two well-known Scandinavians intent on beating each other yet again.

That's the lot for today, expect more tomorrow. For now don't have nightmares, it really is a skill game.

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Be back tomorrow

Goodnight from Monaco.

Stephen Bartley is a PokerStars Blog reporter.

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