PokerStars Festival London: Big names run up huge stacks in the Main Event
If you were to take a cursory glance at the top of the chip counts in a poker tournament and see David Docherty, Philipp Gruissem and Slaven Popov as the names occupying the podium positions, you'd be unlikely to think you were following an event with a buy-in of £990.
But with 66% of Day 1A in the books that's what's happened here at The Hippodrome Casino in London. Those three stellar names lead from the rest in this opening flight of the Main Event. As the saying goes, the cream rises.
It's Docherty who's so far fared best of the 169 entrants who opted to play the opening flight of this £400,000 guaranteed event. He's climbed all the way to the giddy heights of 160,000. The Scotsman was a regular on the UKIPT and had a love-hate relationship with the Main Event. He made two final tables, The second of those final tables came here in London in April 2016. While you make your own luck, Docherty's deserted him deep in both events. In London he endured a bit of a reverse perfect storm to go from fourth in chips when the final started to first out. And in Dublin in 2011 he was chip leader with 13 left only to fall in eighth there too.
Today he got an early boost when he busted his good friend Jack Hardcastle with queens agaisnt aces, with the chips going in down the streets. It was the first hand after Hardcastle had sat down too.
If Docherty feels some icy breath on his neck that's because his nearest challenger isn't exactly a nobody. You're more likely to find Gruissem in High Rollers, or simply not playing poker these days. However, he's taking a break from Table Tennis* to run roughshood over this Main Event. With some deft footwork - well handiwork to be honest - he's smashed his opponent's and has turned his starting stack of 30,000 into 144,000.
(*Gruissem is an excellent Table Tennis player and took the most points off Darius Knight at the recent EPT13 Prague festival. Knight has a silver medal in the sport from the 2010 Commenwealth Games.)
That means they've both leapfrogged Popov, who was leading for a long stretch with a stack of 142,000. The Bulgarian, who plays on PokerStars under the username 'suarez_BG', is no stranger to success on the poker felt, be it in the live arena or the virtual felt.
In May 2012, he took down the SCOOP-M Main Event title, good for a cool $560,019. While he hasn't quite managed a score of that size when playing live, he made two EPT final tables, finishing fifth at EPT12 Prague and eighth at EPT11 Barcelona. He's finding London to his liking as his stack leaves him primed to make a deep run at this event.
Earlier today we caught up with Andrew Christoforou and he talked Kassouf, the WSOP and more. He busted 18th in last year's WSOP Main Event and is leading the chasing charge with 120,000. Other big names to play today include Team PokerStars Pro Felipe Ramos who has 13,600. Thomas Ward, who with 12 will be forever joint top of the all-time UKIPT Main Event cashes table, has run his stack up to 36,000. Fresh from cashing the High Roller, Chris Moorman has hopped into this and, in short order, has increased his stack to 47,000. And, EPT11 Grand Final champion Adrian Mateos has been on something of a grind all day as he sits on 35.000.
While one EPT champion remains, another has busted as Niall Farrell has hit the rail. He has the option to enter the turbo repecharge Day 1D at 10pm on Friday night. As do James Dempsey, Barny Boatman and Ben Winsor, who've all also been eliminated.
You can keep an eye on the conclusion of Day 1A of the Main Event and Day 2 of the High Roller via with our friends at PokerNews.
That's all from us for tonight though, we'll upload end of day chip counts before Day 1B kicks off at 11am, or you can find them via the app (see below). It's going to be another busy one.
All the PokerStars Festival London schedule information is available on the PokerStars LIVE App, which is available on both Android or IOS. Also make sure to follwo the @PokerStarsLive Twitter account of event information and announcements.