The monstrous field that showed up for the European Poker Tour’s first stop of Season Ten in Barcelona, Spain, has been whittled down to only 24 players, but it was the action in the €10,000 High Roller tournament that has drawn a great deal of attention from the poker community.
79 players came back on Thursday to work their way to the final three tables of the Main Event with Tom Middleton atop the leaderboard to start the day. There were several notable pros looking to take him down, including Kevin Vandersmissen, Kimmo Kurko and EPT champions Kent Lundmark, Dimitar Danchev and Mikalai Pobal. Pobal, the defending champion of this tournament, was the one who had the most work to do as he started the day the third lowest stack in the room.
Pobal wanted to get into action early (possibly to take part in some of the side action around the Casino Barcelona?) and he did. Unfortunately, it was an ill-timed move as he moved his last 71K in chips in against Sergei Chantcev and Glib Kovtunov. Chantcev got out of the way, but Kovtunov called and showed a leading pocket pair of nines against Pobal’s A-Q. The flop ended any discussion, coming down 9-5-9 to give Kovtunov quads, and Pobal silently slipped off to the next event with his minimum cash from the Main Event.
Pobal was joined by several other notable names as the day wore on. World Series of Poker “November Niner” Russell Thomas left before Pobal and Kevin Iacofano, Mike “SirWatts” Watson, Lundmark, Danchev and Vandersmissen would all depart as the day wore on. When Niall Farrell eliminated Martin Staszko in 25th place to end the night, the play was halted with Middleton still atop the ladder.
1. Tom Middleton, 3.986 million
2. Alejandro Perez, 3.3 million
3. Anaras Alekberovas, 2.638 million
4. Kimmo Kurko, 2.382 million
5. Andreas Christoforou, 2.258 million
6. Emilio Jimenez, 2.242 million
7. Madis Muur, 2.056 million
8. Benoit Gury, 1.94 million
9. Niall Farrell, 1.862 million
10. Eduard Bhaggoe, 1.637 million
€10,000 High Roller Event
The numbers for the first EPT High Roller event of Season Ten were outstanding. As the Day One action closed Thursday night, 168 total entries were on the tournament clock (players who busted were allowed to re-enter the tournament). While this would have normally been the story of the day for the High Roller event, it was a huge blowup by a popular pro that took the headline.
Daniel Negreanu, being his usual gregarious self, was hit with a penalty on a hand that sent the Canadian pro into a frenzy completely out of character for him. On a particular hand, the dealer dealt out the pre-flop hands and, feeling that Negreanu was not in range of his seat, mucked his cards per the new Tournament Director Association “first card off the deck” rule.
That rule, which was instituted after this year’s WSOP, states that a player’s hand is to be mucked if they are not within an arm’s length of their seat when the FIRST card comes off the deck. In the past, it was always thought it was the LAST card dealt out before a player would be mucked but the dealer applied the new rule and sent Negreanu’s hand to the muck.
This sent Negreanu off the rails as he demanded the Tournament Director come to the felt to plead his case. After much discussion, the EPT TD’s upheld the dealer’s decision and a frenzied Negreanu blind-pushed his stack into the center in protest on the next hand and was eliminated. Negreanu, on his Twitter account, blasted the rule as “anti-player” and “absurdly stupid.”
After a bit of a cool down period (Negreanu commented on his blog that his anger caused him to overreact, stating “My reaction was silly and I realize this”), Negreanu did pony up another €10,000 to take another shot and will be in the field for Day 2 on Friday.
For those that played the entirety of Day One, they will be looking to get to the final table on Friday:
1. Ole Schemion, 393,600
2. Igor Kurganov, 315,300
3. Sam Greenwood, 313,800
4. Seng Yong, 312,200
5. Gerard Pique, 308,500
6. Richard Yong, 300,000
7. Abi Khaitan, 295,200
8. Eugene Katchalov, 260,400
9. Jason Lavallee, 246,500
10. David Benefield, 220,400
Final numbers aren’t known as of yet for the High Roller as there will be a late registration period on Friday to allow players to jump in or re-enter the tournament.
The first stop for the EPT in Barcelona looks to be a hit with players and fans alike. As the weekend plays out, both the Main Event and the High Roller will determine the first champions for the EPT’s Season Ten schedule.