You can usually sense a Day 1B field about 12 hours before you can see it. As the first flight plays out in relative calm, you can spot crowds of players clutching buy-in receipts or greeting friends, preparing for their day at the felt.
Here in Prague, the sensation of something enormous approaching was magnified by a number of factors. It was the day after Sunday, which meant the online grinders were free; other tournaments finished in other parts of this fine city; and we were even treated to a thick dusting of snow to amplify the crunch of 1,000 advancing boots.
When they arrived, as they did in their droves, we were looking at a record-breaking field for EPT Prague: a grand total of 864 players of which 528 played today. That produced a prize pool of €4,190,400 and a first prize of €835,000. Ones heart warms at even the thought of the prospect, despite temperatures well into minus figures.
All of this made for one of those days full of dangerous tables and explosive hands – and yet little of long-lasting relevance. It’s been a long time since a day one leader was handed the winner’s cheque at the end of the week, so no one should read too much into what went on. (No one except the 200+ who couldn’t make it through the day, of course.)
Still, there are about 300 survivors who would happily swap places with Vadim Belov tonight. He is the man with the most from this second flight – a bag full of 179,300 chips. That’s significantly fewer than his countryman Iosif Beskrovnyy managed yesterday (239,000) but not a bad day’s work nonetheless.
If Belov peers over his shoulder, through the blizzard, he will see Luis Rodriguez just behind. He has 176,800, followed by a host of big names waiting to pounce. There’s some high, high class in the bones of Jason Mercier (41,500), Johnny Lodden (94,500) and Pier Paolo Fabretti (99,900), who are also all still alive, even if Dario Minieri, Michael Keiner, Luca Pagano, Martin Hruby and Dag Palovic all departed.
It also wasn’t to be for Salvatore Bonavena. He and Roberto Romanello completed a full complement of former EPT Prague champions returning to the fray. But like Jan Skampa, Arnaud Mattern and Martin Finger, Bonavena went bust. Romanello (52,100) is the last of those former kings still with chips.
The full chip counts, plus details of the payouts structure, is always available in the panel at the top of the main EPT Prague page. And there is still the chance to review all of the day’s colourful coverage, by clicking on any of the blue in the paragraph below.
You can catch up on everything that is going on in the side events before joining us tomorrow at noon.
See you then.