EPT London Day 1A: Marc-Andre Ladouceur Drives To The Lead, Large Field Expected

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After over a month away from the action, the European Poker Tour stormed back to life in London, the United Kingdom on Sunday with its latest event on the Season Nine schedule.

Although the online Sunday tournaments beckoned, 236 players decided to forego that action for some of the live variety. Right around noon in the Grosvenor Victoria Casino (“The Vic”), the players headed to their seats to get their first look at the Day 1A competition. Not surprisingly, there were a host of top tournament pros on hand to get their feet wet in one of the premiere events on the EPT.

Team PokerStars Pro was featured prominently, with Vanessa Selbst, Eugene Katchalov, Luca Pagano and Theo Jorgensen holding court at their tables. They were joined by other top players such as Barny Boatman, Jeff Sarwer, Scott Seiver, Dermot Blain, Steve O’Dwyer, Marvin Rettenmaier and Annette Obrestad as the play headed off to the races. But theirs wasn’t the only action to be witnessed at “The Vic” on Sunday afternoon.

The United Kingdom/Ireland Poker Tour (UKIPT) was wrapping up some of its action (in coordination with the EPT Main Event), with their Main Event playing out in the same arena as the EPT Main Event. In addition to this, the UKIPT High Roller tournament (which brought out 219 players) was in action. Finally, the much-touted battle between Team PokerStars and “The Professionals” from Full Tilt Poker was also scheduled for action, giving poker fans a bit of everything to watch.

Selbst made some early noise by increasing her stack to nearly two times its starting level. Over Twitter, Selbst told the story of how it was done: “Run a river bluff raise, guy hero calls. Next hand double with 99 vs. KK on a QQ9. After a few bets, went in. 53K now beginning Level 2.” Selbst would kick her stack upwards even more against Georgios Theodorou when she rivered a straight against him to reach 65K.

Canada’s Marc-Andre Ladouceur began to make an impact on the leaderboard when he clashed with Dominik Nitsche. The duo was joined by Nandor Solyom on a 9-8-8 flop and, after a bet out of Nitsche, Ladouceur was the only one to come along. On a deuce turn, Nitsche fired the remainder of his chips into the pot and Ladouceur made the call. Tabling pocket Queens, Ladouceur was ahead of Nitsche’s A-K and faded a few outs on the Jack river to knock out Nitsche and move up to 50K in chips.

As play worked into the evening, Ladouceur would continue to drive up the leaderboard to eventually finish the night in the pole position. He would chop some chips out of Rettenmaier’s stack to push his total up to 170K at one point before putting the cruise control on to coast into the finish. He will have some challenges, however, joining him from the Day 1A field on Tuesday:

1. Marc-Andre Ladouceur, 163,500
2. Adria Balaguer, 160,000
3. Antonio Matias, 141,000
4. Timothy Davie, 136,800
5. Antoine Labat, 130,300
6. Davide Suriano, 130,300
7. Seun Oluwole, 127,900
8. Ramey Shaio, 121,700
9. Michel Dattani, 119,000
10. Eric Sfez, 115,100

Also finishing out the day in decent shape were such names as Pierre Neuville (83,200), Alex Kravchenko (52,200), the newest member of Team PokerStars Leo Margets (57,000), Liv Boeree (56,100) and Selbst (54,800). Those that will have plenty of time to get in on the side games around “The Vic” include Sam Holden, Max Silver, Chris Bjorin, Ville Wahlbeck, Seiver and Nitsche.

In the other big news of the day, the much-hyped match between Team PokerStars (and their captain, Daniel Negreanu) and “The Professionals” from Full Tilt Poker (captained by Gus Hansen) was more of a rout than an actual match. Born of a Twitter sparring session between Negreanu and Hansen, the two teams would play heads up for three matches, with the winner being crowned as to who won the most of each matches’ three games played. With Negreanu were fellow Team PokerStars members Bertrand ‘Elky’ Grospellier and Isaac Haxton, while Hansen’s fellow “Professionals” Viktor ‘Isildur1’ Blom and Tom ‘durrrr’ Dwan would take up the fight with him.

Negreanu kept his followers informed over Twitter about the matches, which delivered photos of the battles and reports on the carnage that followed. Grospellier would take down the first match against Blom, 3-0, and Haxton would make short work of Dwan to win by a 2-1 margin. Already assured of an overall victory, Negreanu could play a relaxed game and he did, taking down Hansen 3-0 to win eight of the nine games played and earn Team PokerStars bragging rights over “The Professionals.” (Don’t think this is the last you’ll hear about this showdown!)

After the flurry of activity on Sunday, Day 1B at “The Vic” will seem tame by comparison. You can expect, however, that the field for Monday’s action will be much larger than its Day 1A partner, potentially driving the player pool close to the 600-650 player mark. It promises to be an exciting week in London as the European Poker Tour gets back to work.

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