EPT12 Malta: Brian Roberts leads halfway through Day 1 of the €25,000 High Roller

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Roberts has raced into the lead

Mike McDonald has made his living by making correct decision based (partly) on numbers. Before play started today - and with only 13 players registered - he was asked by Charlie Carrel how many runners he thought this event would get. His 'plucked from thin air' number was 70. We believe McDonald's guess was for the number of unique entries - this event allows for one re-entry up until the start of Day 2 - and would you believe it his guesswork is looking fairly accurate at this point.

As level five came to an end 61 unique players had entered the fray, seven of whom had re-entered after busting out. This is the second running of this event and last season Dzmitry Urbanovich beat a field of 88 (68 uniques, 20 re-entries) to scoop a top prize of €572,300. The defending champion is definitely here - he's been seen in the building - however he's yet to take a seat, he's got a habit of buying in at the start of Day 2 so he may keep us waiting longer.

Each player who has entered began with a starting stack of 250,000 and Brian Roberts is the player who's made most headway during the opening half of the first day of this three day event. The American has climbed all the way to 720,000 to lead from Quan Zhou (630,000). As is so often the case in these High Roller events early progress to such heights often has a whiff of 'cooler' about it and indeed one such hand has helped boost Roberts to the top. Both he (pocket tens) and Martin Finger (pocket threes) flopped a set on a J♦3♦T♥ board, the vast majority of the chips went in on the 5♣ turn and there was no one out miracle for Finger on the 2♣ river.

A good start is of course no guarantee of a good finish - although it helps - but as well as Roberts, Justin Bonomo (600,000) Justin Liberto (580,000), Connor Drinan (525,000), Marvin Rettenmaier (445,000), Dan Smith (412,000) and Nick Petrangelo (400,000) have started well.

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Decent start for Dan


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Most of those names are familiar to followers of the EPT but Justin Liberto is, as far as we can tell, making his EPT debut here in Malta. As you'd expect, given the size of the event, he's no newcomer to poker and indeed won a WSOP bracelet this summer in a $3,000 no-limit Hold'em six-max event.

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Haxton - on home turf

Team PokerStars have three representatives in the field, from Team Pro, Andre Akkari (315,000) is up a bit, whilst Jason Mercier has just taken to the felt so is still on staring stack. And from Team Online, Ike Haxton, playing in his home EPT is down a touch as he's got 185,000 which is still a healthy stack as it equates to over 60 big blinds.

The big names keep on coming with EPT12 Barcelona Champion John Juanda, Stephen Chidwick, Steve O'Dwyer, Vladimir Troyanovskiy, Shaun Deeb, Ivan Luca, Jeff Rossiter and Patrik Antonius all in the field. This is the second EPT event in a row for Antonius which makes the tournament shy Finn an EPT regular now in our book!

With this being a re-entry event most of the players who've busted out have elected to re-enter and the likes of Charlie Carrel, Adrian Mateos, Martin Finger and Scott Seiver have done just that. Even the players who've busted out and not re-entered are not permanently out as no one has fired twice and missed yet. But for now Piotr Franczak, Yingui Li, Berthold Winz and Rasmus Vogt have chosen to stay on the sidelines.

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Franczak - out for now

They've got until the start of Day 2 to enter, as has anyone else with a spare €25,000 or even a spare €5,100 as there's a €2,500 + €100 Hyper-Turbo re-buy satellite at 22.00 CET tonight.

Everything about EPT Malta is on the main EPT Malta page. More specifically, all the hand-by-hand coverage of the €25,000 High Roller is on the €25,000 High Roller page and everything from the IPT Main Event is on the IPT Main Event page.

Begin plotting your own bid for 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

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Nick Wright
@PokerStars in European Poker Tour