The general consensus around Casino Sanremo yesterday was that the atmosphere in the tournament room was a little flat. This was not something to be disappointed about, nor in any way concerned. Rather it was almost as if Sanremo had come of age as a poker venue and our hosts were treating Day 1A as is should be treated, the calm and sensible opening stages where there’s never all that much that is truly worthy of a high five in celebration nor an anguished howl of despair.
Already it seems as though things will not be quite so sedate today. There is a clear and definite buzz around the casino this afternoon, where a much more sizable and boisterous crowd has already arrived. Witness the press room this morning, where three interview stations were assembled on the stage so that the press pack could have their fill of Liv Boeree, Vanessa Rousso, Daniel Negreanu, Fatima Moreira de Melo and Dario Minieri, among others.
That quintet are among the leading attractions in what is a star-studded field this afternoon. We are, of course, familiar with the discrepancy in field sizes between Day 1A and Day 1B, and it also remains true that many of the top players prefer coming out for the second flight. Earlier this week, plenty of folk were still playing or partying at the World Series of Poker Europe in Cannes, but having now taken a few days off for recuperation, they are returning to the coal face today.
Just taking a wander through the tables today reveals an enormous number of the game’s biggest names. One table in particular illustrates this better than perhaps any other, featuring three former EPT champions (two of whom won here), one Team PokerStars Pro tyro and the first ever British tournament millionaire. Yep, sharing table 30 today are Rupert Elder, Liv Boeree, Roberto Romanello, Dario Minieri and John Duthie. (See “late update” below.)
You would be hard pushed to find a harder table to begin a day one – unless you happened to glance across the other side of the tournament room, where another clutch of enormous names have gravitated towards one another. This summer Antonio Esfandiari beat Sam Trickett to the biggest pay-check in the game: the $18m first prize in the One Drop tournament in Vegas, where the buy in was $1m and the prize pool $42m. They are renewing their acquaintance today, alongside the WSOP Main Event runner up Martin Staszko and a recent WSOP-E champion Jonathan Aguiar. Natalie Hof, the German television presenter and poker analyst is also sitting there. It will doubtless be the most difficult table she has probably ever seen, let alone played on.
All of those, plus about 450 others, are now locked in competition. Edgar Stuchly, the EPT director, and Teresa Nousiainen, the tournament director, have completed their introductory speeches and got things under way again.
Here’s an incomplete list of some of the other players in the field today. Whoever wins this one will have deserved every last euro.
Selected list for Day 1B: Faraz Jaka, Angel Guillen, Andre Akkari, Mike Watson, Isaac Haxton, Jon Aguiar, ElkY, Eugene Katchalov, Martin Stazsko, Stephen Chidwick, Kara Scott, Steve O’Dwyer, Yevgeniy Timoshenko, Chris Brammer, Chris de Meulder, Roger Hairabedian, Richard Toth, Sam Trickett, Roberto Romanello, Chris Moneymaker, JC Alvarado, Kevin MacPhee, Fatima Moreira de Melo, Ronny Kaiser, Lucille Cailly, Dag Palovic, Johnny Lodden, Toby Lewis, Artem Litvinov, Ash Mason, Dylan Linde, Kara Scott, Antoine Saout, Alex Kravchenko, Paul Berende, Pius Heinz, Salvatore Bonavena, Elio Fox, Michael Tureniec, Shaun Deeb, Martin Hruby, Sam Razavi.
Late update: It turns out that although Dario Minieri can read a flop texture in the blink of an eye, he is not so good at reading his table assignment. He was actually drawn today on table 20, not 30, which means he has now moved from table Elder, Duthie, Boeree, leaving the unfortunate Jorge Ufano to take his place.
Keep up to date with the latest from the tournament floor in our EPT Sanremo live reporting.