EPT11 Barcelona: Players cling on to chips to take part in record

New marks are set all the time on the European Poker Tour - attendance records, prize pools and the like. The record for the fastest elimination from a Main Event has long been set at an unbreakable level, however. More than one player over the years has been knocked out on the very first hand of the day.

By the end of Level 1 during yesterday's first flight in Barcelona, we had lost about five players. Expecting a similar rate of attrition, I hovered in the tournament room from the very start today, intent on identifying and pointing a huge inflatable finger and laughing at sympathising with the first casualty on what will become a blood-drenched battlefield in no time.

It didn't quite work out like that, mind you. Something about the spine-tingling introductory video and the enormous number of players entering the room seemed to encourage everybody to want to hang around. Either that or just nobody got aces when somebody else had kings and no one was coolered out of the room.


Whatever the reason, nobody had been eliminated even as the end of Level 1 approached -- perhaps the longest time ever known at the start of an EPT opening flight without a bust-out. And then even when somebody did lose his chips, Joe Mouawad (for it was he) slipped away without so much as a whimper.

In truth, I thought it might be Jonathan Garro who hit the rail first. He ended up at least second best in a big pot early in the day against his countryman Jose Maria Boluda and Ricardo Graells, of Switzerland.

Timofey Kiselev got this one started, by raising to 250 from early position. Garro called one seat to his left, then Boluda called in the cut off. Graells, on the button, made it 1,600 to play. (Blinds in Level 1 are 50-100, with no ante, and a starting stack is 30,000.)

Kiselev now got out of the way, but both Garro and Boluda called. It built a pretty sizeable pot right away. The flop of Q♥[10s]J♦ had all kinds of possibilities and I was doubtless not alone in thinking: "One of these guys could easily have ace-king." I loitered.

Garro checked. Boluda checked. Graells, after more than a normal length pause, also checked. Perhaps one of these guys didn't have ace-king after all.

The 6♦ came on the turn. Pretty quickly, Garro bet 3,200, setting the ace-king-ometer quivering again, and then both Boluda and Graells called.

The Q♣ came on the river, and this was now a very handsome/ugly board. Garro checked and Boluda, who had taken a passive line to this moment, suddenly woke up. He bet 7,600.

Graells, who had put in that big pre-flop raise but had subsequently seemed pretty uninterested in this hand, went into the tank. He took at least a couple of minutes before opting to call. Garro seemed to know he wasn't going to win this pot, but he also called too, prompting Boluda to issue a huge sigh and table Q♠J♣ for the rivered full house.

Garro flipped his A♣K♦ -- somebody did have ace-king after all, but slowed played it to death. Graells mucked unseen.

So, Boluda, whose heart seemed to be beating through his shirt, rubbed his sweating palms on his jeans and set about stacking his new-found wealth.

No one died, but it certainly loosened them up a touch.

Follow all the action from the tournament floor on the main EPT Barcelona page. There's hand-by-hand coverage in the panel at the top, including chip counts, and feature pieces below. There's also EPT Live, which is streaming action from Day 1B of the Main Event.

Howard Swains
@howardswains in European Poker Tour