EPT10 Grand Final: Samir Hadad leads Talal Shakerchi after hectic Day 1A

For the past couple of days at the PokerStars and Monte-Carlo®Casino EPT Grand Final, if you didn't have €100,000 in your mitt, nobody wanted to know. It was Super High Roller this, high stakes action that and very little wiggle room for anyone else.

Today was something different in the Salles des Etoiles. It was Day 1A of the €10,600 Main Event. While the Super High Rollers continued their battle for bragging rights and nearly two million euros, the buzz in the room was about the start of the search for a successor to Steve O'Dwyer as the EPT Grand Final champion.

After eight levels of play, throughout which registration remained open, this first flight had attracted 214 players. And what do you know, it was a player named Samir Hadad, whose career tournament winnings (of $90,244) wouldn't even buy him a seat in the big game, who is top of the pile. Hadad, from France, has 178,000.

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Samir Hadad: A silent surge to the chip lead

Of course, the big guns haven't allowed Hadad to have it all his own way, and Talal Shakerchi, one of the biggest high rollers, leads the charge for the superstars. Shakerchi made the late afternoon of Day 2 in the Super High Roller, but was eliminated before the money. He hopped into the pack of the Main Event today, however, and bagged up 159,500 chips tonight.

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Talal Shakerchi: Refocused for the Main Event

Best known for his superlative skills in the world of hedge funds and high finance, Shakerchi is also an increasingly mean poker player. He has a couple of victories in high buy in tournaments -- a £10,000 High Roller in London and a €10,000 High Roller Turbo here in Monaco. He'll be happy with how things have gone so far at this admittedly very early stage.

Other big stacks tonight are in front of the following, and there was also a healthy smattering of other superstars bagging more moderate counts. All are below.

Samir Hadad - 178,000
Talal Shakerchi - 159,500
JC Alvarado - 145,000
Tom Middleton - 124,000
Timo Eckhert - 116,000
Simon Deadman - 115,000
Nick Maimone - 114,800
Mark Teltscher - 114,000
Gil Morgensztern - 110,700
Sotirios Koutoupas - 102,300
Maximos Pertsinidis - 101,000
Elio Fox - 99,700
Denis Pisarev - 95,800
Olivier Bosch - 92,800
Micah Raskin - 88,200
Jonathan Karamalikis - 87,400

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JC Alvarado: Among the big boys

Yann Dion - 78,500
Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier - 72,700
Sorel Mizzi - 70,000
Antonio Esfandiari - 57,800
Dominik Nitsche - 57,800
Jeffrey Hakim - 54,500
Mike McDonald - 50,700
Marcel Luske - 41,800
Marc-Andre Ladouceur - 38,400
Alex Kravchenko - 37,700
Christoph Vogelsang - 37,500
Stephen Chidwick - 35,600
George Danzer - 26,400
Timothy Adams - 20,800
Mike Watson - 17,500
Elliot Smith - 6,600

It wasn't to be for any of Vanessa Selbst, Kevin MacPhee, Martin Jacobsen, Isaac Haxton, Jake Cody, Victoria Coren Mitchell, Dan Smith or Erik Seidel, however. None of them could make it through the day. Only about 115 players could, and they'll now have a day off to prepare for day two.

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Vicky Coren Mitchell: You can't win them all

We, however, will start again tomorrow, where it will be the same structure but a different cast. It will surely be bigger and even more exciting as the most significant tournament of the week begins to take shape.

You can look back on all today's action in the hand-by-hand panel at the top of the main EPT Grand Final page. And check out any of our feature coverage too.

We dropped in on some old friends, took a glance at some of the side events and the juicy cash games. Then we spoke to the PokerStars tournament team and the effervescent Mark Teltscher.

Simon Deadman was resurrecting the concept of the rounder, while Christoph Vogelsang was playing the reluctant superstar.

That's all for now, except for the Super High Rollers. They play on...

Howard Swains
@howardswains in European Poker Tour