EPT10 Deauville: Ayman Zbib claims overall lead to end Day 1B

The second Day 1 flight has flown here at the EPT10 Deauville Main Event, and walking out into the windy night as chip leader for Day 1B is Ayman Zbib of Lebanon whose stack of 181,400 will place him in first position overall to start Tuesday's Day 2.

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Chips encourage smiles for Day 1B leader Ayman Zbib

The day began with feelings of déjà vu, the second of two Day 1 flights reminding us all that we were following our own footsteps.

But soon the Day 1B field was welcomed, and besides being considerably larger (434 to yesterday's 234), was certainly unique in its own right, that quality epitomized by Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier's costumed appearance as a popular video game character.

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"I was told it was a costume tourney."

The players settled in and as the chips began moving back and forth our thoughts inexorably settled on the Germans in the field, influenced as we are by the recent successes by players from the country to France's immediate right. We spoke with Jan Heitmann about the phenomenon, and the Munich-based pro offered some salient thoughts on the Germans' success. We spoke as well with new Friend of PokerStars Natalie Hof -- also hailing from Germany -- here playing her second ever EPT Main Event.

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A friendly smile from our new Friend

As dinner approached the chip count page became incrementally more intriguing, and we noticed just after midday Tobias Peters and Timur Margolin had pushed ahead, then David Shallow made a charge during the early evening to move up close to 100,000 and the chip lead.

But two unfortunate hands in close succession suddenly sent Shallow railward while his tablemate Zbib ended the sequence leaving for dinner with nearly 150,000 -- by then the biggest stack to boast of in the room.

Meanwhile the Team PokerStars Pros who'd come for Day 1B were all perservering as players returned from dinner, with Luca Pagano -- full of innovative ideas for the Italian Poker Tour -- having built the biggest stack among them while also knocking out Steve O'Dwyer.

Alas for Pagano, he'd suffer a setback just prior to the last level of the night when his pocket aces were cracked, and would ultimately lose the last of his chips during the final orbits of the night.

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Last-level-leaving Luca

Speaking of Day 1B casualties, we likewise bid adieu to three two-time WSOP bracelet winners -- Praz Bansi, Athanasios Polychronopoulos, and Davidi Kitai -- as well as other familiar folks including Sylvain Loosli, Alexander Dovzhenko, and "Big" Roger Hairabedian. Last year's EPT Deauville Main Event champion Remi Castaignon also saw his title defense end abruptly today.

And among the Team PokerStars Pros Vicky Coren and Jake Cody would hit the rail just before the bagging, too. Meanwhile Zbib held onto the lead into the second half of Level 8, lost it momentarily to Yerai Iribarren, then gained it back to end the night atop the counts.

Others bagging big stacks included yet another German success, EPT8 Barcelona Main Event champion Martin Schleich (152,000) who has us contemplating (again) whether we'll ever see a two-time EPT Main Event champion.

Alain Bauer (160,100) and Yerai Iribarren (151,900) similarly claimed spots near the top, with side event winner Niels Van Leeuwen (141,400), Alexander Leakhov (121,600), Jamila Von Preger (99,400), Martin Staszko (96,500), Joep van den Bijgaart (93,200), and Patrick Bruel (92,300) among those ending the night ship-shape in chips.

Team PokerStars Pros making it through included Alex Kravchenko (34,600), Heitmann (27,700), and Grospellier (9,900), with Natalie Hof surviving as well (23,000). Something over 250 survived the day altogether, meaning we'll be reuniting with about 380 players tomorrow at noon for the start of Day 2.

No less than three players from Lebanon made last year's final table here at EPT Deauville. Zbib will renew his quest to do the same tomorrow, perhaps even to bring a title to Lebanon where he's a popular singer.

Bon soir for now. Off we go to follow Zbib and everyone else into the windy Deauville night.

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"Those flags are always horizontal"

Martin Harris is Freelance Contributor to the PokerStars Blog.

Martin Harris
@hardboiledpoker in European Poker Tour