EPT12 Barcelona: Stephen Chidwick starts as he left off, and means to go on

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Stephen Chidwick: Our early leader

The European Poker Tour is back, and it has started in typical fashion. That means, in case you haven't been paying attention for the past 12 years, that we're in Barcelona and that we're breaking records.

We won't dwell on the latter issue at least for this day-end wrap (if only because the Estrellas Poker Tour is so dominant in that respect), but it is also already true that this is the biggest €50,000 event the tour has ever seen. There are 81 unique players and 12 re-entries, which is more than when we broke records last year.

At the very same moment that these words are being written, another super satellite is getting under way to register a few more players in tomorrow's action. Entry is open until 12.15pm Sunday, at which point your 250,000 starting stack will be worth 42 big blinds.

You will, however, be trailing Stephen Chidwick by a factor of four. The British player, who these days pretty much just lives wherever there's a major poker festival going on is the tournament leader at this stage, bagging 1,062,000 chips.

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A chip-leader's bag

It seems so long ago that he was cute little stevie444, the man who qualified again, again, again and again for the World Series Main Event. These days he's just a beast in all events, both online and off, and will again be a force on this season on the EPT if his first day is anything to go by.

Among the others hot on his heels are Christoph Vogelsang (1,002,500), Mike McDonald (855,000) and Jean-Noel Thorel (775,000). They too enjoyed eight levels of mainly plain sailing and will be in a good spot to make a charge towards the money tomorrow.

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Christoph Vogelsang: Second place

It'll be a hectic ten levels back in the ballroom, with a handful of landmarks to look out for: the official number of players will be published, then the prize schedule. And then we may well burst the bubble (although I'd say reaching a final table is the longest of long shots).

Today began pretty promptly, at or around 12.30pm. And there were already about 30 players when things got under way, including the likes of Steve O'Dwyer, Vogelsang, Max Altergott and Philipp Gruissem, all of whom have highly significant results in high buy in events.

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Max Altergott and Philipp Gruissem: Early to work

As hours ticked past, the likes of Jason Mercier, Martin Jacobson, Anthony Zinno, Erik Seidel, Ole Schemion, Fedor Holz and Mike McDonald joined them, and it was fairly obvious that this field was going to represent the cream of the crop.

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Erik Seidel: Fresh from victory in Monaco

But it was also gratifying to all that in the absence of regulars such as Daniel Negreanu, Daniel Colman, Olivier Busquet, Vanessa Selbst and Scott Seiver, a host of newcomers to the biggest stage also arrived. At least 20 of today's players are in a Super High Roller event on the EPT for the first time. There clearly some life in this game yet.

The most efficient way to get a full run down of chip counts at this stage is to head to the main Super High Roller page and look at the panel at the top. Be aware, however, that proceedings will get a lot more frantic tomorrow, and that there are no guarantees in this game.

Here are a few notable counts to keep you going, and give you a taste of the field:

Stephen Chidwick, United Kingdom - 1,062,000
Christoph Vogelsang, Germany - 1,002,500
Mike McDonald, Canada - 855,000
Jean-Noel Thorel, France - 775,000
Steve O'Dwyer, United States - 696,000
Dani Stern, United States - 640,000
Igor Kurganov, Germany - 586,000
Sylvain Loosli, France - 584,000
Fedor Holz, Germany - 580,000
Adrian Mateos, Spain - 555,500
Mike Watson, Canada - 513,000
David Peters, United States - 497,000
Mustapha Kanit, Italy - 468,500
Jeff Rossiter, Australia - 475,000
Bryn Kenney, United States - 442,500
Connor Drinan, United States - 424,500
John Juanda, Indonesia - 288,500
Martin Jacobson, Sweden - 268,500
Haralabos Voulgaris, Canada - 254,500
Ole Schemion, Germany - 244,500
Philipp Gruissem, Germany - 164,000
Pratyush Buddiga, United States - 131,000
Patrik Antonius, Finland - 67,500

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Who said success has gone to Dzmitry Urbanovich's head?

Start your journey to EPT glory by downloading the PokerStars client and having a crack. Follow this EPT event via the EPT app. There you will get all the latest news, chip counts and payouts. You can download it on Android or IOS. All the EPT Barcelona bumf is on the main EPT Barcelona page, while blow-by-blow Super High Roller coverage is on the Super High Roller page.

Howard Swains
@howardswains in European Poker Tour