EPT11 Malta: Slowly does it as Day 1B field climbs past 400

You can never be quite sure what to expect if you arrive early to an opening flight on the European Poker Tour. You might, for instance, find David Baker at your table already -- "Bakes" was one of the first arrive today -- or you might end up with six other eager beavers ready to go the very minute the clock starts ticking and the welcoming party have ended their introductions.

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Today's welcoming committee: Edgar Stuchly, Toby Stone and Claudio Pagano

Dermot Blain, on the other hand, showed up to the most lonely party of all. He was the only man to arrive at his table anything like on time, which was particularly cruel given it is the Irishman's birthday today. (Of which more later.) But if Blain was hoping for company, he should have been careful what he wished for. The first compadre he found was Ognyan Dimov, the latest EPT champion, who comes to Malta from Deauville with the a fresh spring in his step. Not long after, and following his sad demise in the IPT final table, Julian Track also appeared.

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Julian Track in IPT action

David Longmate had taken his seat, but had only Kai Wattenberg for company. Dealers need at least three players at the table in order to begin dealing, which meant all that could happen at table 43 was some idle card twirling from the dealer and an invitation from Longmate to a passing reporter to pull up a chair and commandeer an empty stack.

Eventually Jordi Urlings showed up, which let the reporter off the hook. Longmate and Wattenberg were delighted at Urlings' arrival. Their EPT Malta could get under way.

As predicted, the tournament field has swelled significantly on this second starting day. The list of entrants was up to 420 before the end of the first level, and action had also moved into the secondary tournament room one floor below. Six players are here bearing the Red Spade of PokerStars on their sleeves: Jake Cody, Leo Margets, Vanessa Selbst and Eugene Katchalov of Team Pro and Marc-Andre Ladouceur and Ike Haxton from Team Online.

These days, the sizeable battalion of PokerStars qualifiers is also stacked with experience. All of Tamer Kemal, Jason Duval, Jason Wheeler, Joep van den Bijgaart, Vladimir Troyanovskiy, Dan Smith, Josip Simunic, Yann Dion, Griffin Benger, Mike McDonald, Steve O`Dwyer and David Vamplew are in the field having qualified online.

As ever, coverage is available in the panel at the top of the EPT Malta Main Event page, plus feature pieces below. The IPT is playing to its winner today, and you can follow coverage of that on the IPT page.

Howard Swains
@howardswains in European Poker Tour