FPS Monaco: Valeriu Coca races to lead Day 1A; Deadman, MacPhee contending

They have bagged and tagged after a whirlwind Day 1A at the France Poker Series Monaco Main Event, one of several events helping kick off today's first full day of action of the EPT Season 11 concluding PokerStars and Monte-Carlo®Casino EPT Grand Final series. A total of 265 came out for the first of two Day 1 flights of this €1,100 buy-in event, and by night's end Valeriu Coca of Moldova was the one having collected the most chips during the twelve 45-minute levels, counting up 212,400 at night's end.

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Valeriu Coca

Others concluding play with healthy stacks included Oleg Vayman (189,000), Ricardo Graells (173,300), Simeon Sundelius (162,700), Sergio Braga (160,500), Evangelos Kokkalis (151,400), Simon Deadman (133,000), and EPT Berlin champion Kevin MacPhee (116,500).

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Ricardo Graells

A total of 85 players made it through from today's field to Friday's Day 2. Click here for a full list of chip counts of Day 1A survivors.

The day began with a modestly-sized group gathered in the tourney area and only a couple of cash games going, but soon the relative calm evolved into an engine-like roar as more players arrived. La Maison du Bluff star Christophe Ducrot winning a big pot early helped add a little more excitement as the day revved up further.

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Christophe Ducrot

Players continued to arrive, with the tournament field growing and the number of cash tables exceeding two dozen. They came from all over today, including a quartet of chip-chasers from China.

There was other side action, too, with a €10,300 buy-in satellite to tomorrow's €100K Super High Roller catching our attention more than once as we raced about the tournament room.

A big field of 33 came for that one, which meant the top three finishers earned seats -- Dario Sammartino, Mikita Badziakouski, and Mike McDonald -- thereby becoming part of what is expected to be a large SHR field tomorrow.

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Satellite scene

David Yan was the unfortunate fourth-place finisher, albeit not so unfortunate after carrying off a €23,400 consolation prize.

After the FPS Main Event players returned from dinner, a few had charged ahead to the top of the counts, with Joao Brito, Nicolas Camitsis, and Deadman having built the biggest stacks at that point. But Coca would be the one to edge past them all by the Day 1A finish line.

There were a number of notables among those failing to make it through today's play, including Julien Renard, Thiago Nishijima, Stephane de Freitas, Ben Heath, Giacomo Fundaro, Josh Prager, Aleksandr Kim, Nathalie Odel, Gilbert Diaz, Dani Parlafes, Olivier Decamps, Jeremiah Nock, Jonathan Bensadoun, Vanessa Brie, and Team PokerStars Pro Online member Gabriel Nassif.

Nassif took seventh in this same event a year ago, but after becoming short-stacked late in the day fell shy of making Day 2.

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Gabriel Nassif

As the survivors prepared to leave, the Swedish player Simeon Sundelius accepted congratulations from a tablemate upon bagging his 160,000-plus chip stack. But as he nodded he acknowledged what was to come.

"Tomorrow's going to bigger," he said, referring at once to the field size as well as the likely stack size of the end-of-Day-1b chip leader.

Indeed, over 300 have already confirmed for Day 1B, and with late registration the total field will surely grow considerably larger. Among the confirmed are Team PokerStars Pro Andre Akkari, 2014 WSOP Main Event runner-up Felix Stephensen, EPT Prague champion Arnaud Mattern, Polish pop star Wojciech Lozowski, EPT Deauville finalist Joseph Carlino, and last year's FPS Monaco Main Event champion, Yury Nesterenko.

Regarding a few other side event stories, Russia's Ismail Erkenov won Event No. 7 today, a €550 fixed-limit hold'em event. And the FPS Monaco Cup got underway with the first of three Day 1 flights, with 64 of 85 still battling with several levels and many re-entry opportunities still to go.

While we've reached the end of one day, things are only just beginning here in Monaco with nine full days of play left. Among tomorrow's highlights, Day 1B of the FPS Monaco Main Event (starting at 12 noon), and the first day of the aforementioned €100K Super High Roller (with a 12:30 p.m. start).

See you back here tomorrow for more from Monaco!

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Martin Harris is Freelance Contributor to the PokerStars Blog.