When only 178 players exchanged €5,300 for 30,000 during Day 1a of the Campione leg of the European Poker Tour we just knew that Day 1b would be a monster sized field in comparison; and we were not wrong.
Yesterday a bumper crowed of 392 players descended and what we are told is the largest casino in Europe, made their way to the ninth floor and took part in the main event. The man who ended the day with his name displayed at the top of the chip counts was Nicolas Chouity.
Chouity, pronounced Shweety, shot to fame in 2010 when he bested one of the toughest fields ever assembled, the EPT Grand Final. On that occasion he finished first from 848 players, each of whom had paid €10,000 to play, and he walked away with the title, the trophy and the massive first place prize of €1,700,000! Should Chouity, who ended the day with 165,800 chips (enough for third place overall), go all the way in Campione he will add a further €640,000 to his already massive winnings total.
The Lebanese pro always seemed to have a large stack of chips in front of him the the moment the tournament started but it was two clashes with Vanessa Selbst that saw him catapulted to the top of the counts and send a disappointed Selbst to the rail. The first hand saw him flop the world with an open-ended straight draw and a spade flush draw to boot, the latter hit on the turn and he was paid off by his American opponent who from the table talk suggested she had a set. Then towards the end of the day Selbst was seen on the rail and overheard saying she six-bet Chouity whilst holding jack-nine but the hand she was trying to represent, pocket aces, were in Chouity's possession all the time! Ouch.
Another player who ended Day 1b strongly was Andrea Benelli who bagged and tagged 163,400 chips at the close of play, a total that will see him start fourth in chips when play resumes at 14:00CET this afternoon. To pay Benelli a major complement would be to say although he is Italian he does not play like one! He always looks cool and composed, has a solid game and can make moves when he needs to and now he is well-stacked he is most certainly in with a chance of becoming only the second-ever Italian EPT Champion.
Other players who managed to navigate through the minefield of Day 1b include a whole host of well-known faces such as a British quartet of former EPT champions in the shape of Toby Lewis, Liv Boeree, David Vamplew and Rupert Elder whilst the likes of Patrik Antonius, Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier and Eugene Katchalov are also still in the mix.
When play does get underway this afternoon there will be a total of 325 players in the vast tournament area. By the time play comes to an end, after what could be seven 75-minute levels, there will probably be around half of that but they will still be some way from the money bubble; which bursts when the 89th place finisher is decided.
There is still a lot of poker to be played in this tournament so make sure you tune in tomorrow to find out who has made it through to Day 3 and who did not.
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