After a layoff since early May, the European Poker Tour (EPT) is finally back in action with EPT Barcelona. The Main Event kicked off Monday with 554 players registering for Day 1A and 44 paying for one re-entry (this is a single re-entry event). Ben Wilinofsky is the chip leader of the 202 remaining players with 330,000 chips after Level 10.

Right now, it is Ben Wilinofsky and everybody else. After Wilinofsky, the second place player, Haoxiang Wang, has 239,300 chips, nearly 100,000 chips behind. And with stacks at those levels, 100,000 chips is massive. Six more players have over 200,000 chips, so it is a tight race behind the pole setter.

In a tournament, being dealt pocket Aces right away is one of those things you either love or dread. Clearly, Aces are awesome, but you know that if push comes to shove, you are going to have to go to the mat with them pre-flop, so there’s always a chance you get bounced before you even get comfortable. Now, Wilinofsky didn’t get Aces on the first hand, but those hole cards showed up for him in the first level of the day. According to the PokerNews.com report, Wilinofsky moved all-in on a board of T-3-7-J and Max Silver made the call with Queens. No luck for Silver on the river and Wilinofsky quickly had almost double his starting stack.

Silver was a good sport, though, posting on Twitter, “Haven’t busted an EPT level one in a while, feels like old times.”

Wilinofsky has a short live tournament resume, but it is a nice one. He has just six recorded cashes, but his very first was a win in another European Poker Tour Main Event, the 2011 EPT Berlin, where he won €825,000, or about $1,174,143. That makes up the vast majority of Wilinofsky’s earnings total, but he also had a six-figure cash at the 2012 WPT Vienna Main Event, where he placed third.

Online poker is Wilinofsky’s forte, though, where he has millions in tournament cashes.

It’s been a tough road to this point for Wilinofsky. At the end of 2015, he decided to retire from professional poker to address his mental health. Suffering from depression, he realized, as he told PokerListings in 2016, that he “was looking for external ways to fix an internal problem.”

That WPT Vienna final table was a key event, as he said he was “devoid of any kind of emotional response” when most people would either be thrilled with the finish, disappointed in getting so close to the win and falling short, or some of both.

“No matter how things get on the outside,” he told PokerNews, “it doesn’t really change anything for more than a couple of days.”

It will always be an ongoing battle for Wilinofsky, as it is with anyone who is trying to tackle depression or another mental health challenge. But he is there in Barcelona, kicking some butt through Day 1A, waiting to see what Day 2 has in store, along with a couple hundred competitors.

2018 European Poker Tour Barcelona Main Event – Day 1A Chip Leaders

1. Ben Wilinofsky – 330,000
2. Haoxiang Wang – 239,300
3. Miguel Use – 228,900
4. Lawrence Bayley – 224,200
5. Kalidou Sow – 220,000
6. Benjamin Pollak – 219,800
7. Upeshka De Silva – 218,100
8. Antoine Labat – 210,800
9. Adrian State – 186,200
10. Luis Rodriguez Cruz – 182,400

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