EPT11 Barcelona: Last-gasp Ryan Fee takes lead, but huge field of stars lurk behind

For a long period in Casino Barcelona this afternoon, a tournament poker table featured the following line-up: Martin Jacobson, Tony Gregg, Max Altergott, Daniel Negreanu, Martin Finger, Michael Thuritz and an old guy from France with wild hair.

This was as good an illustration one can find of the sensational standard of players attracted to these €50,000 Super High Roller events. That table hosted a November Niner, two Super High Roller champions, a Little One for One Drop champion, a Swedish cash game superstar and the all time leader of poker's money list, who has close to $30m in recorded tournament winnings.

altergott_negreanu_finger_ept11_barcelona_day1.jpg

All star line-up in the Super High Roller

However, true to the nature of these superlative events, it was the old guy from France with wild hair who led the way for almost all of the day. Jean-Noel Thorel, to give him his proper name, founded the cosmetics company Esthederm more than 30 years ago, the success of which has given women across the world a rare glow to their faces, and earned Dr Thorel the chance to sit in the biggest poker games on the planet.

jean_noel_thorel_ept11_barcelona_day1_shr.jpg

Jean-Noel Thorel: cosmetics king

Thorel knocked out Negreanu at one point. Negreanu bought back in. Then Jacobson took a chunk out of Thorel. And so it goes in Super High Roller tournaments. Jacobson bagged 620,000 after eight levels of play. Thorel had 540,000 and Negreanu 315,000. Tomorrow, they will be scattered through the field.

The chip leader at this stage is Ryan Fee, with 919,000. He sent Mike McDonald packing on the last hand of the night. McDonald may or may not reappear tomorrow, with the strong expectation towards the "may".

ryan_fee_ept11_barcelona_shr_day1.jpg

Ryan Fee: Last-gasp hero

Fee is just ahead of Mustapha Kanit, who was also eliminated at one point and then re-bought. With his second bullet, Kanit hit a gutshot against Fedor Holz, a satellite winner, and that set up the Italian to build towards his stack of 836,000.

mustapha_kanit_ept11_barcelona_shr_day1.jpg

Mustapha Kanit: Second overnight on the second bullet

This tournament, which costs €50,000 to enter, don't forget, kicked off the EPT section of this festival, which has been going already for a few days under the Estrellas banner. Record numbers had flocked to Catalonia for the lower buy-in event, and the enthusiasm rubbed off on the high rollers too.

By the time all the registering was done today, there had been 57 unique players in this tournament, with 14 re-entries already. There were 64 total entries when Dan Smith won here in Season 9, the biggest to date. Registration closes at start of play tomorrow, so others may still turn up.

igor_kurganov_jason_mercier_ept11_barcelona_shr_day1.jpg

Igor Kurganov and Jason Mercier: at home with the high rollers

If they do, they will get a stack of 250,000 chips, which will be enough to mount a challenge. Selected stacks at this stage include:

Ryan Fee - 919,000
Mustapha Kanit - 836,000
Ole Schemion - 733,000
Martin Jacobson - 620,000
Bryn Kenney - 605,000
Jean-Noel Thorel - 540,000
Daniel Colman - 473,000
Thomas Muehloecker - 413,000
Juha Helppi - 398,000
Saar Wilf - 397,000
Olivier Busquet - 388,000
Jason Mercier - 362,000
Vitaly Lunkin - 356,000
Daniel Negreanu - 315,000
Dan Smith - 300,000
John Juanda - 299,000
Vladimir Troyanovskiy - 201,000
Stephen Chidwick - 179,000
Timothy Adams - 173,000
Tobias Reinkemeier - 148,000
Igor Kurganov - 127,000

Negreanu expressed the thoughts of many of the players today when he tweeted, "Day 2 I'll make my move". Tomorrow they will have to get down to a final table of eight, and it will likely take some time.

You can flick through all the hand-by-hand action of the day in the panel at the top of the main Super High Roller page. We'll be back tomorrow at noon for the resumption.

Howard Swains
@howardswains in European Poker Tour