We are not exactly out of the COVID-19 pandemic, but restrictions have been lifted on casinos around the world for a while now and poker players have shown that they REALLY missed live poker while casinos and poker rooms were closed. Yet another major live poker tournament has enjoyed a spectacular turnout as players continue to flock to the tables. This time, it is the European Poker Tour (EPT) Monte Carlo Main Event, which after two starting flights has fielded 1,049, just 49 short of the tournament’s record. It could still break the record, as registration is open until the start of Day 2 on Wednesday.

Only 307 players remain going into Day 2, starting at Level 11 with blinds at 1,000/1,500 and a big blind ante of 1,500. Levels will be 90 minutes each, with a 75-minute dinner break after Level 14.

Anyone who does decide to pay the €5,300 buy-in to start on Day 2 will immediately be under pressure to find some hands quickly, starting with a chip stack of 30,000.

They will also have a steep hill to climb, staring up at chip leader Morten Hvam from Denmark, who finished Day 1 with 327,500 chips. He is the only person above 300,000. Rounding out the top five are Gangzhou Hu with 272,000, Boris Kuzmanovic with 259,500, Merijn Van Rooij with 253,000, and Bruno Volkmann with 249,000.

Monte Carlo has been a stop on the European Poker Tour almost every year since the Tour debuted in 2004, even during the strange year when PokerStars rebranded the EPT as the PokerStars Championship in 2017.

From 2004 through 2016, Seasons 1-12, Monte Carlo was the home of the EPT Grand Final except during Season 7 (the 2010-2011 season), when Monte Carlo wasn’t even on the EPT calendar. Starting with the temporary rebrand, there was no more Grand Final and Monte Carlo left the EPT after Season 14 in 2018.

To be fair, however, most of the hiatus since that 2018 stop was the result of the COVID-19 pandemic, which forced the cancellation of live poker tournaments for most of 2020 worldwide and much of 2021 in certain jurisdictions.

The EPT Monte Carlo Main Event isn’t the only tournament at the poker festival that is in high demand. The €1,100 France Poker Series Main Event, the tournament that opened the EPT Monte Carlo stop, attracted a record 1,918 entries, shattering the previous high mark of 1,501 set in 2018.

2022 EPT Monte Carlo Main Event – Combined Day 1 Chip Leaders

  1. Morten Hvam – 327,500
  2. Gangzhou Hu – 272,000
  3. Boris Kuzmanovic – 259,500
  4. Merijn Van Rooij – 253,000
  5. Bruno Volkmann – 249,000
  6. Andrew Hulme – 238,500
  7. Kazuhiko Yotsushika – 233,500
  8. Didrik Mantor – 232,500
  9. Ramon Colillas – 231,000
  10. Claudio Di Giacomo – 231,000

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