2012 WPT Malta Day 1A: Casper Toft Leads Small Field

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Perhaps it is fitting that a World Poker Tour (WPT) event in a tiny country had a tiny first day this weekend. Regardless of the numbers, though, it is still a World Poker Tour event and the winner still becomes a member of the Champions Club. That said, just 64 players paid the €3,000 + €300 to compete in the 2012 WPT Malta Main Event Day 1A Sunday. Just over half of them – 34 – moved on to tomorrow’s Day 2, with Denmark’s Casper Toft leading the survivors with 123,600 chips.

Should Toft take advantage of his chip stack and go on to cash in the tournament, it would be his first time making the money in a World Poker Tour event. His best live tournament cash came in January 2011 when he placed fourth in the €2,000 No-Limit Hold’em event at the European Poker Tour’s (EPT) Deauville stop, a cash which earned him €40,600 ($55,258). Toft also has two cashes in EPT Main Events and two at the World Series of Poker (WSOP), though neither of those were in the Main Event.

Toft ascended to the chip lead thanks, in part, to an elimination at the end of the night. Toft opened the betting pre-flop with pocket 8’s only to see Vladimir Geshkenbein shove the rest of his chips, about 15 big blinds worth, into the pot. Toft made the call, probably figuring he wasn’t likely to be a huge favorite. He wasn’t, as Geshkenbein held 9-T, both live overcards to Toft’s pair. But neither of those overcards found a match and Geshkenbein was eliminated.

One of the oddest sights of the day was the appearance of Phil Hellmuth. The poker world is accustomed to seeing him make a fashionably late, grand entrance, but those are always at the WSOP Main Event. Plus, those occasions always see Hellmuth as the one dressed up, not someone else. But this time, at WPT Malta, a svelte Phil Hellmuth took his seat during level seven (of eight, mind you) and played like normal. Behind him, though, was one of the world’s favorite crime fighters, the Amazing Spiderman. As it turned out, the man dressed up like the web slinger was the person who eliminated Phil Hellmuth from WPT Malta last year. It was at that tournament that Hellmuth had the bad luck to actually be bitten by a spider, hence the goofy costume.

Day 1B of WPT Malta is already underway at the Casino at Portomaso. The survivors from today will combine with the 34 from Sunday in tomorrow’s Day 2.

2012 World Poker Tour Malta – Day 1A Chip Leaders

1.    Casper Toft – 123,600
2.    Andrea Dato – 106,300
3.    Alfonso Amendola – 106,000
4.    Koen Berendsen – 103,700
5.    Kiryl Radzivonau – 94,800
6.    Jonathan Roy – 94,100
7.    Jens Schmieg – 93,500
8.    Dominik Nitsche – 91,400
9.    Jeffrey Rossiter – 82,400
10.    Bastien Lebel – 82,200

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