EPT Monte Carlo: Day 1 chip leader doing France proud

Day 1B of the PokerStars EPT Grand Final defined the word "grind."

It was more than 12 hours of poker among more than 400 people, all vying for a spot in Day 2. The goal was not victory, but survival.

It was a goal achieved by more than 200 of the starters, not least of which was suspected Day 1B chip leader Cyril Bensoussan (official counts will be out in the morning). The young Frenchman skyrocketed up the leaderboard in the waning hours of play, finishing with around 120,000 chips, good for the lead today and likely Day 2, as well.

Cyril Bensoussan

The day was good to some members of Team PokerStars Pro as well. Chad Brown spent a large portion of the day with a well-above average stack. He finished with around 35,000. Fiancee and fellow Team member Vanessa Rousso held her own, finishing the day with around 31,000. Daniel Negreanu, who at one point had come close to guaranteeing success here, battled one of the toughest tables of the tournament and came out of the night with a ticket to Day 2. Same goes for Victor Ramdin, who at one stage was down to 3,000 chips but managed to find a key double up and survive into Day 2. Finally, Joe Hachem played a tough but patient game today and will have his chances tomorrow with 45,000.


Joe Hachem -- © Neil Stoddart

The news was not as good for a host of other well-known players. Steve Paul-Ambrose, ElkY, Chris Moneymaker, and Dario Minieri all found the rail earlier than they wanted. So did PokerStars Passport holder Dustin Mele who battled all the way until the final minutes of the night when he got pocket kings all-in preflop and ran smack into AJ. An ace on the flop put him out. Season 3 Grand Final champion Gavin Griffin will not be repeating his victory. He went out early in Day 1B after failing to get any traction. Team PokerStars Pro Lee Nelson’s day was of the up and down kind. Never able to get going, he stuck around the average for some time, then slipped below average, then below 10K, before busting out late in the day, aces against kings against tens... Lee held the tens.


Lee Nelson © Neil Stoddart

EPT Copenhagen champ Tim Vance spent much of the latter part of today on Lee’s immediate left. Out of his chair and playing hands from the standing position, Tim plays with his heart on his sleeve and his daughter’s photo in his cap. He had a similar day to Lee with one significant difference. As play approached the close Tim managed to double up, all-in with K-9. He'd flopped two pair to best his opponent's K-Q.

Even if it's patently obvious to those in the game and most of you reading, it bears repeating that Day 2 is the place where the players will make their bones. Surviving Day 1 is one thing. Being a player in Day 2 is something else entirely.

Tomorrow will tell if today's chip leads have the stuff to get to Day 3.

Selected chip counts can be found on the EPT Monte Carlo chip counts page. Official counts will be available in the same place when they are provided by the tournament staff.

For a look back at today's coverage, check out the links below.

Ready and set for the second half of day one
Game set and snaps on table Boris
Heads-up across a room
Level 1 recap
Channing and Coren look for more wins
From mountain highs back to the foothills
Team PokerStars Profile: Lee Nelson
Trinity of Champions
Level 2 recap
Never too late
No repeat champions and Level 3 recap
The gravitational pull of table 22
Boris bounced, history repeats
Level 4 Wrap-Up
Perspectives in agony
European debut for Steve Paul-Ambrose
Level 5 closes
The chip leader speaks
Say hello to Cyril

Day 2 action picks up at 1pm local time (7am ET) Monday.

Brad Willis
@BradWillis in EPT Monte Carlo