European Poker Tour Returns in Sochi, Day 1A of Main Event Completed

admin | March 26, 2018 | 0 | Gambling news

After a year of wandering in the wilderness branded as another tournament circuit, the European Poker Tour officially made its comeback on Friday in Sochi, Russia. The first day of the European Poker Tour Sochi Main Event is in the books with a contingent of (naturally) Russian players dominating the leaderboard.

For the official history books, this was the first time that the EPT had ever set foot in Russia, although technically the circuit came to the Casino Sochi last year when it was under the “other name that will not be uttered.” And, for one of the few times ever seen on the EPT, there was a multiple Day One format, with an odd twist. After Day 1A on Friday was complete, Saturday would see a Day 1B play out. If that wasn’t enough for the players, a “Day 1C” under a turbo format will be started at 8PM on Saturday night (the event also offers players a single rebuy during their start day). From those three days, the Day 2 field will come together on Sunday.

As the cards hit the air, defending champion (when it was the “other” event) Pavel Shirshikov was on the hunt for a repeat title and was joined by a host of notables (while we call it the “other” event, Shirshikov was quite happy to win it and the $515,774 first place prize!). Israel’s Saar Wilf, Lithuania’s Irena Macesovic (a final table finisher at a previous PokerStars event), a contingent of Brazilian pros and seemingly everyone in Moscow was arranged around the Casino Sochi tournament arena. But it was the travails of Shirshikov that perhaps demonstrated the fickle fortunes of tournament poker.

Players started the day with 30,000 in chips and Shirshikov made sure he raced through that stack quickly. Just after the first level of the day completed, the defending champion started off with a raise on a pot and Afanasenka Rama decided to look him up with a three-bet. Shirshikov called out of position and, on a 7 10 8♠ rainbow flop, check-called a 4000-chip bet from Rama. A Q on the turn put several possibilities on the board, which Shirshikov would check over to Rama. Rama put the defending champion to the test, moving all in for roughly 16K in chips, which sent Shirshikov into the tank.

Shirshikov’s deliberations were quite lengthy, to the point that the clock was eventually called on him. As the floorman counted down the one minute to the end, Shirshikov called and showed a J 10 for top pair with a inside straight and a flush draw. Although he was leading with his pocket Aces, Rama still had to fade 17 outs (four nines including the diamond, two tens, three Jacks and eight other diamonds) to take the hand, which he did when none of those outs hit the river. As Rama doubled up, Shirshikov saw his stack shrink to 6000 chips; before the end of Level 2, Shirshikov would be out of the tournament, even though he would buy back in for a second shot that ended in the same manner.

By the time the end of the evening came, 254 entries had been received on the tournament clock. The leaderboard featured several local players who were taking their shot at a big win:

1. Vitaliy Gusak, 206,300
2. Aleksandr Merzhvinskiy, 195,900
3. Roman Zhuravlev, 191,400
4. Ivan Safarov, 190,600
5. Andrei Krylou, 187,100
6. Sihao Zhang, 166,100
7. Vitaliy Pankov, 158,300
8. Serafim Kovalevsky, 148,700
9. Artur Martirosyan, 138,100
10. Vladislav Vinogradov, 131,800

Of the players in the Top Ten, only Zhang (from Luxembourg) is from outside of Russia.

With another full Day One on tap for Saturday – and the Day 1C “turbo” that will conclude the opening action on Saturday night – it seems as if the return of the European Poker Tour in Sochi will be a success. 387 buy-ins were recorded for the tournament in 2017, meaning that the initial starting field for Day 1B on Saturday should smash that mark. When the Day 1C “turbo” is added in by the end of Saturday night, it makes the potential for what was a regular occurrence on the EPT in the past – a big-time tournament event – more realistic.

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